UPEI undergraduate research symposium expands across the country

“To be honest, I was quite nervous four years ago when I first presented,” says Mostafa Fatehi Hassanabad, co-chair of the 2009 Computer Science Engineering Mathematics Physics Undergraduate Research Symposium, or CEMPURS. “But I think that’s half the point of the conference. It’s great practice. This was my fourth year, and I was much more comfortable, much more able to talk about my research.”

 CEMPURS began six years ago at UPEI as a forum for undergraduate students to present their findings after a summer of research. It expanded in the last few years to include students from Ryerson University, and this year brought in even more participants with the addition of University of the Fraser Valley. Presentations this year included mathematical modeling of the growth of cancerous tumours, and computer simulation of the movement of polymers through nanopores (tiny holes) in a membrane.

Dr. Daniel Ryan became UFV’s Dean of Science last summer. Before that, he was Chair of Mathematics here at UPEI,” explains Fatehi. “He was able to put us in touch with students in Abbotsford, B.C., which added a really nice dynamic to the symposium.”

CEMPURS helps give undergraduate students experience at presenting their research in a friendly, low-pressure environment. In the weeks before the symposium, participants were walked through the process of writing abstracts and making presentations in a seminar put on by Dr. Derek Lawther and Dr. Shannon Murray.

“The symposium is formal enough to give experience, but not so formal that you’re terrified of a poor reception. Almost everyone is in the same boat as far as experience. The audience is almost entirely made up of undergraduates and their faculty advisors.”

CEMPURS also expanded this year to include students from the Chemistry Department. Fatehi says they didn’t bother adding a new letter to the acronym.

“We let the ‘C’ do double duty,” he jokes. “I think maybe its C squared.”

 CEMPURS was held August 12th, in the Atlantic Veterinary College.