University of Vermont

University Communications

At April 19 Student Research Conference: Cuban Skateboard Revolution, Simulated Robot Environments and Everything Between

Computational Lab
A weekly meeting of the Computational Story Lab team in Farrell Hall. All 12 students on the team, ranging from undergraduates to a post doctoral student, will exhibit at the April 19 Student Research Conference in the Davis Center. Faculty mentors for the lab are Chris Danforth, rear center, and Peter Dodds, center, crouching, both of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. (Photo: Raj Chawla, UVM Medical Photography)

The 12 students in UVM’s Computational Story Lab in Farrell Hall all have something in common: they use complex mathematics and prodigious computing power to model dynamic, rapidly evolving systems from financial markets to hurricane trajectories.

The group, which includes undergraduates, masters candidates, doctoral students and a post-doctoral student, share something else: all 12 will be participating in UVM’s Student Research Conference, taking place on the fourth floor of the Davis Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 19.  

A record 365 students – 205 undergraduates and 160 graduate students – will make oral presentations or show posters at the conference, a 44 percent increase over last year and a whopping increase of over 10-fold since 2007, the first year of the conference.  

Sixty-four academic programs will be represented from all 10 of UVM’s colleges and schools. Continuing Education students will also participate.

The conference will feature student creative work, as well as research.   

According to Abu Rizvi, dean of UVM’s Honors College, a co-sponsor of the conference, the number of participants rises rapidly every year because of “the growing realization by students and faculty that mentored research and creative activity are an ideal way to apply and extend the content knowledge that students acquire in the classroom.”

Domenico Grasso, vice president for Research and dean of the Graduate College, the conference's other co-sponsor, hopes to see a good number of undergraduates in the audience.

“It’s an opportunity for students who haven’t yet worked with a faculty mentor on research or a creative endeavor to see what the process is all about,” he says. “By talking with students and faculty, they can lay the groundwork for getting involved next year.”    


Students, faculty and staff would find the conference worth attending for its entertainment value alone, Grasso said, given the talent and ambition of the student participants.

“It’s mind boggling seeing what our students, in partnership with their faculty mentors, are accomplishing,” he says. “Their work is on the cutting edge. Some of it seems like science fiction.”         

Sample projects include “Interactive Robot Simulation Environment”; “Creating Taste of Place for Vermont: An Analysis of Consumers’ Willingness to Pay”; “Reverse Engineering the Human Brain”; “CREB in Pathogenesis of Mesothelioma”; “Cuba Skate: Facilitating the Cuban Skateboard Revolution in Havana, Cuba”; “We’re Not Made of Metal”; “Descriptive Clustering Meta Search Engine”; “’I Know I Can Be What I Wanna Be’: Career Development for First-Generation College Students”; “Shared Subjective Experience as a Catalyst for Prosocial Harmony: Study on Quieting the Ego”; and “Consumer Survey Data Analysis for Market Adoption of Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles.”

All those attending the conference will be entered in a contest to win an Apple iPad.

Oral presentations are scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon and 12:30 to 4 p.m. The poster sessions are scheduled for 9 to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Read more, including a complete list of all the oral and poster presentations, on the conference website.

The conference is free and open to the public.