The Penn-York Undergraduate Research Association honored Dr. Helene Lawson at its 20th conference held at Clarion University.
Organizers presented Lawson, who founded the association in 2000, a Lifetime Achievement and Service Award in recognition of her service to the organization.
“Most students have a fear of speaking in front of a larger audience, including faculty, other students and families,” said Lawson, a professor of sociology.
The conference gives students a chance to present in a supportive environment. Presentation skills are important for those going on to graduate school and business.
“Students learn to do research, and they take it seriously because they know they have to present at this conference,” Lawson said. “They enjoy sharing their research with people from other disciplines and other cultures.”
Lawson said that it was also important to her to keep travel distances manageable, allowing more students to participate and cutting down on costs since there is no need for overnight lodging.
Since 2000, the association has included Pitt-Bradford, Clarion, St. Bonaventure University, Canisius College, University of Rochester, Hilbert College, Rochester Institute of Technology, Slippery Rock University, Penn State Erie - The Behrend College, Bloomsburg University and Alfred University, among others.
Each year, a different member institution hosts the conference.
Students can make a verbal presentation or a poster presentation, where they present their findings on a poster and are available to answer in-depth questions from individuals for extended periods of time.
Penn-York is one of two opportunities Pitt-Bradford students have each year to present research as undergraduates, which is an important aspect of scholarship. Students can also present before their Pitt-Bradford peers during Honors Day held each April.
Penn-York gives students the added dimension of learning from students at other universities and being able to share research with them. Some students have used these experiences to gain confidence to present at larger conferences as well.