UA Undergraduate Research Conference Adds Creative Showcase

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — To highlight the collaborative relationship between the arts and research, The University of Alabama’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference is kicking off its 14th year with an undergraduate Creative Showcase Wednesday, March 29, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Ferguson Center Theatre and Gallery on the UA campus.

“The University of Alabama excels in research and creative activity,” said Dr. Kim Bissell, UA’s director for undergraduate research. “But the URCA conference, as it was structured, did not give creative activity and fine arts students the venue to showcase their work. So, the Office for Undergraduate Research decided that having a kick-off event in the form of the Creative Showcase would be a great way to put the spotlight on excellence in creative activities.”

The showcase, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development and emceed by Seth Panitch, professor and program director of acting, will feature 12 performances, highlighting approximately 25 students in theatre, music, opera, dance, fashion, design, creative media, creative writing, advertising and public relations.

Seating for the on-stage portion of the showcase, which is free and open to the public, opens at 4:30 p.m. However, the audience is also invited to attend a reception at 4:15 p.m., which will continue after the show at the Ferguson Center Gallery, where an exhibition of student artworks will be on display before and after the show.

The artworks on display were created through the Da Vinci’s Studio initiative—a program conceived in 2016 by Honor’s College student Jessica Shieh—to increase collaboration between student artists and researchers. Each artists begins with a 24-by-24 inch canvas and is given 10 hours to create an artistic rendering of research conducted by another UA student.

Last year, for the initiative, Shieh worked with biology student Shaiti Madireddy to create a mixed media piece depicting the effects of iron oxide nanoparticles on the pollen grain viability of the plant Arabidopsis thatliana.

Each of the exhibited canvases will be auctioned off at the end of the night. Proceeds will go to the Honor’s College for the continued support and expansion of the DaVinci’s Studio initiative as well as other undergraduate student research.

“In our first Showcase event, we wanted to select a diverse group of students, representing several colleges, to showcase their creative activity,” said Dr. Anneliese Bolland, the assistant director of the office for undergraduate research. “We hope that this Showcase will grow in the future and that we will be able to use a proposal submission process similar to our research conference.”

The Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference is a premier annual event at The University of Alabama that provides undergraduates an opportunity to highlight their research or creative activity.

In addition to bringing attention to the excellent work of undergraduate students, the conference allows students to gain experience presenting, compete for cash prizes and form relationships with their faculty mentors and fellow conference presenters.


Anneliese Bolland,


Courtney Corbridge,, 205/348-8539

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.