Posters and Presenters are gathered densely during MassURC 2024 at the University of Massachusetts
Photo: Lily Attias-Inzano

On Friday, April 19, 2024, I presented at my very first research conference – the Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference (MassURC). Throughout my undergrad, I always heard about MassURC but never really knew what it was, nor did I think I would ever be a part of it. Fast forward to my senior year, where I am currently composing my Honors Thesis, I got the chance to showcase my educational interests at this year's conference. 

What is MassURC?

MassURC is not your average research conference; it is a cornerstone for undergraduate students throughout Massachusetts to showcase their research across a variety of disciplines. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2024, the conference has evolved tremendously, especially after the recent virtual session shift it had to take due to the pandemic. This year the conference was in-person for the first time since 2019, and there were 700 presentations by about 800 students! There was also a keynote by UMass Dartmouth professor Lamya Karim.

Why Participate in MassURC? 

The decision to participate in this year's conference was a no-brainer for me. It was a chance to step beyond the classroom and test the waters of presenting my research to an audience beyond my professor and peers. 

The MassURC was a place for me to share what I had thus far for my Thesis, challenge my understanding, and refine my communication and presenting skills – all essential tools for any researcher. 

My Personal Experience at the Conference 

Presenting at MassURC was both exhilarating and enlightening. As one of the first groups to present, I was able to experience the buzz of sharing my thesis on how mental health mediates the relationship between student debt and individuals’ perceptions of the economy. Although I only presented a segment of my research, the feedback I received was very affirming. 

One of the highlights from the conference was seeing those who I work closely with in my job with the Student Care Supply Closet in the Dean of Students Office: Stephanie Lare, Case Manager for Graduate Students, and Corinna Cusson, Assistant Dean of Students, both came to support me during the presentation. 

Knowing how supportive the faculty are here at UMass is really shows a lot of character about the university and their dedication for their students. 

Another highlight was I was able to discuss my work with CHC Dean Mari Castañeda. Her insights were invaluable, and our one-on-one chat was an amazing opportunity given her hectic schedule. 

Ruchi and Dean Castaneda stand in front of her poster at MassURC 2024
Dean Castañeda was circulating throughout the conference talking with participants!

What I Took Home 

More than just a line on my resume, the conference taught me how to get complex ideas across in a much simpler way, so that someone who may not know anything about my topic can follow along without feeling overwhelmed or lost. Also, watching other students present their research was a huge eye-opener. 

Looking Back….

Reflecting on that day, I am not just proud of stepping up but also thankful for the personal growth it sparked. 

MassURC wasn’t just another academic event; it was a milestone for me, and now? I can’t wait to see what a postgraduate research conference may look like!

Brochures for the 2024 Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Conference at the University of Massachusetts
Photo by Eva Trainer
Article posted in Research for Faculty , Prospective students , and Current students