The annual CERCA event continues virtually

Student collaborative research with faculty and staff will be showcased at the end of April

More stories from Amira Lunderville



The Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity event will be presenting student-faculty and student-staff collaborative research.

Catherine Chan, executive director of research and sponsored programs and the leader of the team who organizes CERCA, said the goal is to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments of the partnerships.

“Student presenters share their experiences and results of their collaborative research, scholarly and creative work through different modalities and platforms,” Chan said. “Attendees have the opportunity to interact with presents by engaging in questions and answers and discussions.”

Students from all corners of campus in all areas of study will be presenting in CERCA, including students from UW-Eau Claire, UW-Eau Claire–Barron County and the Chippewa Valley Technical College, Chan said.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs collaborates with colleagues from many other programs, Chan said. These programs include the Honors program, the Blugold Fellowship program and a variety of others to host this event.

The goals of CERCA are to present the accomplishments of student research, scholarly and creative work throughout campus, Chan said.

“It allows our student researchers to reach a benchmark in their scholarly and creative endeavors by sharing their work with peers and experts in the field, which is an integral part of the scholarly and creative process,” Chan said.

CERCA provides a forum for disseminating the results of collaborative research, scholarly and creative work and facilitates idea exchanges and, therefore, growth of the researchers, Chan said.

The event also provides a venue to highlight the new knowledge and positive impacts students, staff and faculty collaboratively created, she said.

Students, faculty and staff have been preparing for this event since the beginning of the semester, Anna Green, third-year criminal justice and Spanish student, said.

“I have practiced my presentation over and over again,” Green said. “I am also prepared to take time to respond and answer any questions anyone has.”

Rahul Gomes, assistant professor of computer science, said he is working with his research group to finish drafting their poster for the event, generating flowcharts and graphs to explain their approach and include preliminary results, which demonstrate the suitability of their research approach.

His research team is gaining knowledge on certain subjects, he said. Their research looks at identifying certain features (known as methylation markers) in the human genome, which plays a role in silencing tumor suppressor genes.

“Identifying these genes could increase our knowledge and allow us to reduce the chances of a person suffering from cancer,” Gomes said.

Jim Boulter, professor of public health, environmental studies, chemistry and biochemistry, said he is working with several groups and has been mentoring students for at least 14 years.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boulter said CERCA looks a little different this year, but it’s still important to hold the event.

“I think it’s important we continue to do this event every year so that all students have the opportunity to participate in the presentation of their research results, but also the process of compiling those results into a narrative — either a poster or an oral presentation,” Boulter said.

Chan said the event will have a combination of live and pre-recorded presentations throughout the week of April 19-23.

Just like the in-person event, attendees will be able to interact with presenters, either live through virtual platforms, such as Zoom, or asynchronously through discussion forums via the learning management system Canvas, Chan said.

More information about CERCA and how to access it can be found on the university website.

 Lunderville can be reached at [email protected].