It’s no little-known fact that the members of the RCC lab keep themselves busy. However, not many may know that quite a few of them are involved in UNE’s Research Experience Club, REC! REC aims to promote undergraduate research on campus in all departments. One of the big events REC is in charge of is hosting the annual Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium – an entirely student run symposium dedicated to providing a professional yet low-stress platform for undergraduates to show off what they’ve done in their labs and hone in their presentation skills. REC was founded in 2017 by RCC lab members Ellie Leighton (‘18), Courtney Parent (‘19), and Nicole Martin (‘21) and has been growing both in size and its presence on campus ever since. This year’s symposium had its largest turnout yet, showcasing undergraduate research not only at UNE, but from St. Joseph’s College and the Maine Maritime Academy. The success of the event is attributed to REC’s growing size and collaborative work throughout the semester.
The RCC’s very own Nicole Martin (‘21) is the current president of REC. In addition to presenting a poster with the RCC’s Grace Bernatchez (‘21), she played a leading role in planning and coordinating the event. Nicole addressed the attendees as the president of REC and as an undergraduate research assistant, underlining the importance of research on our campus for all students. She reflects on her dual role:
“The great part about the Fall Research Symposium is that it is student led and student inspired. We are all coming together to share our love and passions for research, and I feel like that really comes across in the event. No one is being forced to be there- everyone is truly thrilled to share their work and is excited to hear about other’s. This sense of community that we are all undergrad researchers coming together to support one another is what makes the event so successful.”
Lab member Aubrey Sahouria (‘22) serves as vice president to the club, and presented with another REC and RCC lab member, Genna Companatico (‘20). Aubrey, Genna, and Grace share their experiences presenting at the symposium they helped to produce:
“There is something so fulfilling about seeing an event you and other students worked so hard on coming to fruition. This fall symposium looked and felt just as professional as the university-run symposium in the spring – and to know that it was the hard work that you and your peers produced makes it so much more special. Here, I presented our lab’s hard work on a platform built from our club’s hard work. It’s like being an actor in a play you helped to write and build the set for – you get to own the experience as uniquely yours” reflected Aubrey.
“As a member of both a research lab and REC, it was so amazing seeing all of the undergraduate students present at an event that we planned. This was our most successful symposium yet, and I am so proud of everyone! This year, we were able to invite undergraduate research assistants from other schools, which was a great experience for everyone. We hope to continue to grow this tradition and make the event bigger and bigger in the future!” Genna commented.
“Presenting at an event that I was involved in helping to put on was very gratifying. It was almost like being the outsider on the inside. Due to helping put it on and then being able to be a part of the presenting event was a really great experience. It’s awesome to see how successful a small group of people can be in putting on a bigger event, especially for something all of our members are so passionate about!” said Grace.
These busy lab members presented two posters at the autumnal chef d’oeuvre. Nicole Martin and Grace Bernatchez presented their work on the effects of e-readers on reading comprehension in younger and older adults. Genna Companatico, Aubrey Sahouria, and Bella Martin (‘23) presented research conducted with UNE alum Courtney Parent (‘19) on performance across different text types and predicting performance through three common reading tests. The lab will continue to collect data and refine their posters for future regional and national conventions. As for the Fall Research Symposium, it will continue to occupy a special place in the hearts of UNE undergrads – and an especially special place in the RCC lab.