SOURCE goes virtual for a second year.


Justin Zabel, Staff Reporter

For the second year in a row, the Board of Undergraduate Research will conduct the annual SOURCE presentations completely virtually.

The way these presentations work is undergrad and graduate students can prerecord their presentation, have them uploaded to an organization’s website to be able to present the research they discovered in the process, along with their end results. 

Erin Cone, Program Coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Research

“We got to partner with an organization called the Student Opportunity Center. We partner with them all year round. They provide opportunities and research opportunities for students. They have actually partnered with us to provide the platform for the virtual conference,” Erin Cone, the program coordinator for the office of undergraduate research said. “We don’t have to code a website or anything like that. They accept pre-recorded presentations that students submit for both poster and oral presentations. Everything is pre-recorded. That takes away the technology glitching during a live presentation.”

During previous SOURCE presentations, judges and several audience or community members observed presentations. Now with the event virtual, there are still judges, but more community and audience members can sit in and observe.

“Judges and audience members can make comments on that site. They are also monitored. Everything is good comments. They take away negative comments that don’t provide any feedback,” Cone said. 

With COVID-19 turning this event virtual for the second year, this affected the amount of presentations and participation.

“The presentations were cut in half about. That means we went from 500 to 250. A decent amount of participation given the circumstances,” Cone said. “But it has given us a chance to have more viewers involved. More community members and audience members than our in person event.” 

However, alumna Meghan Gilbert said the virtual event gives more opportunities and provides more students a way to present even if they are not even in Ellensburg. 

“I think it opens up an opportunity for more students to participate because sometimes there are students who have graduated who can’t come back and present on the work they have done through the year or there is scheduling conflicts,” Gilbert said. “With this ability to record ahead of time and upload your presentation. I think it actually opens the doors for more to participate.” 

The number of students participating in SOURCE may have decreased rapidly, however, that doesn’t stop everyone from presenting. Cone gave a rough estimate of how many presentations would take place for each department presenting in this year’s virtual event. 

“I know we have 90 presentations from the College of Education and Professional Studies. About the same number for the sciences. Then 30 from the CAH and a small number from College of Business, but that is typical,” Cone said. 

With the estimates of presentations, that did not stop Gilbert from presenting her research during her final year at CWU. 

“I am presenting alongside an undergraduate student on the Strengthening Interdisciplinary Leadership Teams Through Team Development Intervention,” Gilbert said. “It is some work we did last year that we received a grant on campus for. A requirement of that grant is to present at SOURCE.”

Not only in her final year she had time for her own research, Gilbert also made sure she could co-mentor an on campus club’s research.

“I also help co-mentor a presentation by Students With a Purpose, which is a club here on campus. They will be presenting the Effectiveness of Balance-Scorecard Performance Management on Organizational Team Innovation and Sustainability: Interdisciplinary Team Development Intervention (TID) Phase II. It’s essentially connected to the work we did last year,” Gilbert said.

Shifting SOURCE virtually hurt the number of presentations. However, it is following guidelines and giving opportunities for students to still be able to present. With not knowing what the next year held, some may wonder if the event will stay virtual.

“I think we’re aiming for something hybrid,” Cone said. “Having some in person elements but also keeping the virtual aspect because it allows so many people to see our event. I think we are going to try and keep that as a current part. We definitely want to make it back on campus, but that just depends on what happens. We’re fine putting on another virtual event, but we’ll see what happens in the next year.”