With necessity having mothered invention, this year’s Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity at Hope College will be available to audiences around the world via a new format on Friday, April 17, from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. thanks to the magic of the internet.

First held in 2001, the annual celebration has been an in-person gathering in the past, but is instead happening virtually this year due to the college completing the spring semester remotely because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.  It will take place in virtual rooms made possible by Google Meets. The rooms will be accessible at hope.edu/celebration2020

The event will feature presentations by the college’s students on more than 100 original research projects and creative endeavors of the past year.  The topics will range from the development of democracy in Africa, to the premiere of a composition for organ trio, to using satellite imagery to identify cloud forest landslides, to the relationship between accountability and empathy.  All of the college’s academic divisions — the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural and applied sciences — and a total of 24 departments and programs will be represented.

The presentations will take place in three 50-minute blocks, which will start at 2:30 p.m., 3:20 p.m. and 4:10 p.m.  Each block will have six or seven online “rooms” grouped by similar themes, which in turn will include five or six projects.  The students in each session will take turns giving brief (three-minute) summaries of their research and then will take questions through the “chat” section of the room.

The complete schedule is available on the website, as are descriptions of all of the projects.

The event is traditionally held at the college’s Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse, with more than 200 projects highlighted through poster presentations that fill the volleyball and basketball courts as well as the upper-level mezzanine.  Although not all of the students who would have participated in this year’s celebration on campus were able to develop presentations for the online event, all of the projects that would have been highlighted will be featured in an abstract book that will posted on the website in the future.

“Conducting original research with faculty is a distinctive part of a Hope education, and the Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity is a culminating event for many students to showcase their work to students, faculty, family and community members.  While we’re disappointed that we can’t be in fellowship in the fieldhouse as originally planned, we’re pleased that technology is enabling us to still come together to learn from our students and recognize them for their scholarship,” said Dr. Gerald Griffin, who is the associate provost at Hope as well as a member of the biology and psychology faculty.

Hope College is nationally recognized for the extent and quality of its undergraduate research program. Students regularly present their research at regional and national conferences and publish their research as co-authors with their faculty mentors.

Among other acclaim for Hope’s program, in the fall of 2017 the Council on Undergraduate Research presented the college with one of only three campus-wide Awards for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments.  And this past fall, for the 18th consecutive year (since the category debuted), the Best Colleges guide published by U.S. News & World Report included Hope on its listing of institutions that are exceptional for their emphasis on undergraduate research and creative projects.

Research has a long and storied history at Hope.  More than 100 years ago, biologist Dr. Samuel O. Mast designed research laboratory space for the college’s Van Raalte Hall, which opened in 1903.  The late Dr. Gerrit Van Zyl, who taught chemistry at the college from 1923 to 1964, is widely recognized for developing research-based learning at Hope in its modern sense.