The Online Beacon

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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Undergraduate Research Conference Preview

Greg Nesbit Photography
Photo from URC 2022

On Friday, March 8th, The Beacon spoke with Professor Graziana D’Elia -Brilliante, a Modern Languages professor at MCLA. Brilliante teaches both Spanish and Italian and is currently Chair of Undergraduate Research. She is currently working alongside her colleague Caren Veilin, a professor of the English Department and Associate Chair of Undergraduate Research, both in the process of organizing the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC). 

“The URC is one of the most important academic events on campus,” Brilliante says, “Students present their research projects to a larger campus community and share their results. The phrase ‘present research’ has a broad meaning in the URC ethos: students in all majors, minors, and concentrations may present; the URC showcases creative writing, art exhibits, and performances, alongside more traditional papers and poster presentations.” 

The Undergraduate Research Conference is a traditional MCLA program. Beginning in the early 2000’s. It was started by three of Brilliante’s colleagues: Dr. Ann Billetz in Biology, Dr. Tom Vryne in Psychology, and retiree of MCLA, Dr. Maria Bartini, also in Psychology. In the late 2000’s, URC was considered a Day of Engagement by President Mary Grant for the whole campus. Since then, the URC has demonstrated its “commitment and dedication to academic research and hard work of MCLA students.

Photo from URC 2022 (Greg Nesbit Photography)

Brilliante says, “MCLA faculty sponsor and supervise the work of their students who present at URC. Leading students in research and supporting them in the process is a deep core value of the MCLA faculty. Caren and I work with many professors and staff colleagues on the Undergraduate Research Advisory Board (URAB), who help Caren and I get conference abstracts, award grants and fellowships, advertise events, book location on campus for presentations etc.”

Brilliante also wishes to add that the URC’s cover is an actual graphic design made by a student of MCLA and the URAB is currently waiting on designs for the 2024 URC program cover. If you find yourself interested in having your artwork on the URC’s cover, make sure you contact the URC as soon as possible! 

“Every year we host a Keynote Speaker who is an MCLA alum who is also a successful academic, scientist, entrepreneur, activist or artist,” says Brilliante, “This year, we have invited Deven Philbrick, who is a poet and doctoral student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Deven was an exceptional student as an undergraduate here, and he presented at various undergraduate research conferences and events. I am delighted to welcome Deven back to campus to give his insights and advice to our students this year.” 

For a chance to meet and connect with Deven Philbrick, it is encouraged by the URC that you attend. If you also share a love for poetry, Philbrick may be a good resource for you. 

“Attending the URC is an opportunity to discover something new and to support your fellow students who are presenting. All sessions from posters to the art exhibits to the paper presentations are dynamic, accompanied by rich visuals so no-one will be lost or bored. Ask your professor if they offer any extra credit for attending sessions. There will be merch too.”

If you are interested in attending, see below for further information. 

The URC, this year, will take place on April 18th at 9:00 am, the last session ending at 6:00 pm. For any further questions, contact Brilliante at [email protected]Brilliante: “All sessions are open to individual students as well as groups of students to present regardless of an individual student’s GPA. The only requirement to participate is a strong research project that shows a solid academic foundation. For more info and quotes, visit” 


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Mariposa Ribon, Staff Writer

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