Summertime Smarti Gras: Undergraduate research thriving at UTM, says vice-principal

students and posters in the Instructional Centre Atrium during the Smarti Gras event
Monday, August 21, 2017 - 4:17pm
Carla DeMarco

Exploring options for occupations in science and providing a resource in career planning for university students enrolled in biology programs were some of the motivations driving Marigrace Noronha’s research. She had the opportunity to outline her project and processes to an attentive audience at Smarti Gras, a celebration of undergraduate research at U of T Mississauga, on Aug. 16.

Noronha, a fourth-year student from the Department of Biology, was one of eight undergraduates who delivered an oral presentation at this year’s event. Her talk, Careers in Biology, involved work with alumni and the biology department as well as collaboration with UTM’s Career Centre.

“University students within biology may not necessarily know of career options that exist outside of healthcare and research,” says Noronha.

“My project and the chance to share my findings at Smarti Gras provided me with an opportunity to address this need to increase awareness about possible career options, and shed some insight on what is actively being done to address this gap.”

The seven other talks featured a range of topics including optimizing a microfluidic device to study long-term cellular dynamics from the Department of Chemical & Physical Sciences; curriculum mapping for the French-as-a-Second-Language program in Language Studies; investigating the extraction of source code in math and computational sciences; and the social modulation of pain in a mouse model from the Department of Psychology.

UTM’s Vice-Principal, Research, Professor Bryan Stewart kicked off the day’s events with opening remarks that emphasized the value of undergraduates’ participation in the range of scholarly projects on campus.

“One of the things we recognize is that students make huge contributions to science in the labs and to the studies being conducted across social sciences and in the humanities,” says Stewart. “All of these efforts are big contributors to research and to the overall culture at the University of Toronto Mississauga.”

Along with the oral presentations, there was an extensive exhibition featuring 50 posters in honour of 50 years of research at UTM. The topics ran the gamut from examining infants’ adaptation to accents in speech (Keren Smith, third-year psychology) and to documenting speech sounds in the Mississauga community (Aimee Jeanne Padillo‚Äč, third-year language studies) to emerald ash borer tree removal in Mississauga (Guillaume Perrault, second-year geography) and the thermal tolerance in a semi-aquatic insect (Julienne Bonoan, fourth-year biology).

“The breadth and excellence of the posters and the talks along with the enthusiasm of the presenters and engagement of the attendees reiterates that UTM is thriving on the research front,” says Stewart.

“An event like Smarti Gras is an opportunity to showcase the exceptional quality of the work being done by UTM’s undergraduate population and is a point of inspiration to faculty, staff and students about our research strengths, scholarly pursuits, academic creativity and overall research-community spirit.”

The full program of the day’s events, including the oral and poster presentations from Smarti Gras, is available on the Office of the VP, Research website.

Along with the research office, the event was co-sponsored by UTM’s 50th anniversary, the Dean’s Office, Library and UTMAGS.