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Erickson Conference celebrates 20 years of undergraduate research

Woman explaining engineering diagrams Illustration by Dom GuzmanIN MAY, 72 TEAMS and 165 students participated in the 20th Annual Erickson Conference, showcasing the research and design contributions of SPU undergraduates.

Named for Joyce Erickson, dean emerita of the College of Arts and Sciences, the conference now includes all CAS-STEM departments (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, and Sociology), and Health and Human Performance (School of Health Sciences).

“Our students and faculty are doing truly innovative work,” said Jenny Tenlen, chair of the Erickson Organizing Committee and co-chair of SPU’s Biology Department. “In addition to presenting their work, students witness firsthand how our nationally recognized keynote speakers integrate their faith with their scientific vocation.”

This year’s speaker, Grace Wolf-Chase, senior scientist and senior education and communication specialist at the Planetary Science Institute, shared her journey as a woman in astronomy. Wolf-Chase’s research led to the discovery of previously unidentified stellar nurseries where new stars form.

Student presentations ranged from classroom-based original research projects to multiyear independent research programs and engineering design projects. Six oral presentations and five poster presentations won awards this year. The top research projects ranged from women in aerospace to research in cancer, cardiovascular medicine, DNA extraction, and the microbiome.

“One of the highlights of Erickson is seeing how animated student presenters are during the poster sessions,” Tenlen said. “These students are outstanding role models for younger students who may be considering a research career.”

Illustration by Dom Guzman

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