Past and present College of Western Idaho (CWI) students, and current Bridges to Baccalaureate Fellows, were on show recently at the 2020 Idaho Conference on Undergraduate Research (ICUR). Each year ICUR showcases exceptional research being conducted by undergraduate students from across the state of Idaho. This year, however, in consideration of the COVID-19 pandemic, ICUR was held entirely via virtual platforms. This new format presented significant challenges for the conference organizers as well as for student presenters and conference participants. Nevertheless, I was in attendance and I’m happy to report that ICUR was a success with two days of research talks, poster presentations, and panel discussions.
Numerous CWI students attended and several were the principal authors or co-authors on talks or posters given during the two-day symposium. I was particularly impressed by the quality of research that our students are conducting. From ecological research on “showy milkweed” (mentored by Professor Dusty Perkins, CWI) to the relationship between sexual orientation and relationship status on sexting motivations (mentored by Professor Heather Schoenherr, CWI) to bioinformatics tools to predict vaccine potential (mentored by Dr. Juliette Tinker, BSU), the sophistication of the work our students are doing was impressive and inspiring. In addition to student researchers, I “bumped into” many current CWI undergrads who were participating as audience members. It was great to see our students taking the time to come out, support their peers, and learn about research being conducted right here in the Treasure Valley and beyond.
Congratulations to all of our undergraduate researchers; those that have moved on to Boise State or the University of Idaho and those that are still studying at CWI. The path you’ve chosen isn’t easy but if your perseverance in the face of COVID-19 is any indication of future successes, we’ve much more to look forward to!