Undergraduate Symposium goes virtual, live and pre-recorded presentations to take place all day


Graphic by Sarah Carlon

Kat McCully, Contributing Writer

Instead of the traditional day-long, in-person event that recognizes exemplary student research and creativity across many disciplines, this year’s Undergraduate Symposium has been modified to Simmons’ first ever Virtual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creativity. 

The special live presentations, including Keynote speakers, and a questions and answer  section will take place on April 23, but the remaining presentations can be viewed at any time online. 

According to Jaime Libowitz, Simmons operations manager for the undergraduate program, the showcase will work by allowing students to record a 10-12 minute video presentation using Loom, a desktop and iOS app that allows users to create and share videos. Users on Loom will be able to directly share their slides, graphics, and visuals with the audience. In addition to Loom, keynote speakers will also be presenting their work live on Zoom. 

Libowitz said  they want to keep the showcase as close to the original as possible.

“It’s a really stressful time for a lot of students and I think we want to try to maintain as much consistency and sense of normalcy as possible, and part of that would include keeping the events and programs that were planned during the semester in some other format even if it’s not ideal,” they stated. 

The Loom presentation videos will be uploaded to the Simmons YouTube account so they can exist forever. Viewers and presenters can leave questions, comments, and feedback in the comment section of Loom as well as YouTube, Libowitz said.

Keynote speaker and senior at Simmons, Lilli Thorne, is disappointed that she doesn’t get to present her, “passion project live for a bunch of people,” after working on it for so long, but she is excited by the opportunity for her project to exist forever. Thorne’s project reflects upon the early creation of community spaces in settlement houses for working-class, queer women. She said she is glad that her family and friends who would not have been able to attend the event in Boston may now see her presentation virtually from anywhere.

Rich Gurney, professor and director of the SURPASs program, said he is excited by the prospect of this new platform bringing in a larger audience. Thorne and Libowitz agree that it is less commitment for students to tune in from their houses to watch the showcase and believe there is a potential for more engagement. They all agree that the virtual showcase also makes it possible to share these presentations with future employers. 

Gurney feels the Loom presentations can be sent to prospective students who have not had that face-to-face, in-person Simmons interaction due to tours and events being virtualized. “The links can be shared with prospective students just to hear the richness of work our students participate in and champion at simmons. I think those are the stories that need to get to prospective students to encourage students to join our community,” Gurney noted.

For more information on the presentations and how to watch live, visit the website in the link to follow: https://www.simmons.edu/undergraduate/academics/undergraduate-research-and-fellowships/undergraduate-symposium