Celebrating Undergraduate Research

“When we nurture and celebrate individual creativity at the baccalaureate level, we nourish the very heart of our university’s research mission and its core principle of public service.”

In their opening letter in the Undergraduate Research Symposium program, co-chairs Josh Snodgrass and Kevin Hatfield acknowledge that having undergraduate students conduct authentic research projects contributes to student engagement and success.

Now in its eighth year, the Undergraduate Research Symposium drew 382 presenters and 260 faculty mentors spanning 71 majors, 13 minors, and 8 schools and colleges. Over the past eight years the Symposium has hosted nearly 1,600 student presenters. This year, seven of those students were from the College of Design. One of those was Jacob Armas, a double major in art history and international studies.

Armas’s research explored how different generations of art historians, art writers, and curators think about, approach, and frame Czechoslovakian art of the 1970's and early ’80s. In the oral presentation of his work, titled “Perspectives on Czech Art of the 1970's and early 80's: Framing an Understudied Period, Armas described how he conducted structured interviews based on a standard set of questions developed from relevant secondary sources in English. He then analyzed the data in an attempt to see if and how the interpretation of the period's art might have changed through succeeding generations. Armas drew the preliminary conclusion that with more historical distance comes more willingness to re-evaluate a period and interpret its art in new contexts.

“The focus was more on themes and perceptions, with references to supporting artworks, but often these were performance pieces with little or spotty documentation,” Armas said.

Armas’s research was made possible with the help of several grants and scholarships including the Gloria Tover Lee Scholarship in Art History, the Judy Fosdick Oliphant Scholarship in International Studies, a UO Summit Scholarship, the GEO Map Your Future Scholarship, a SIT Study Pell Grant Match, and a SIT/ UO Scholarship.

Jacob Armas presents at the Undergraduate Symposium in 2018
Above: Jacob Armas presents his research at the 2018 Undergraduate Research Symposium.