Freshman Reflections on NCRC

“Especially for someone that is not sure what their major is going to be, this conference was a great way for me to learn about each field.”

SMU HRA members at NCRC 2017: Minaz Zad ’20, Iqra Parupia ’17, Arya McCarthy ’17, Manqi Shi ’20

This year I went to Harvard’s National Collegiate Research Conference as a non-presenter. Although I have done science research before, I wanted to learn more about other areas of research: other sciences, the humanities, politics, nutrition, and other areas. It was so cool to make friends and talk with students from top universities like Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and others around the nation. It really put things into to perspective because I found out about their school and their research. I could make helpful comparisons with SMU. I also talked with so many intelligent students to see their amazing research and its applications during their poster presentations and speaker sessions.


These ideas and research included:

  • inventing a coding sequence to translate text in mixed languages efficiently
  • preventing the steps of HIV
  • researching healthcare in the United States
  • how tattoos affect the perception and trials of people
Iqra Parupia ’17 presents her work on multiple sclerosis (MS)

These were just a few examples, but you can see what a variety of fields these people were investigating. Since it is my first year at SMU, I really wanted to discover my interests in research here so that when I apply for research in the future at SMU, I know a good amount about what each kind entails.

Outside of talking with amazing students, I was able to listen to speakers that have changed the world with their work. Not only that, these speakers were highly accomplished individuals from different fields, which gave me a sense of what a career would be like in the sciences, humanities, journalism, etc. These people included Dr. Harold Varmus, which talked about science and publishing, Mrs. Jill Abramsom, who had senior editorial positions at the New York Times, and Homi K. Bhabha, who provided insight on the humanities.



In addition to these speakers, there were smaller sessions corresponding to your interests, where you could ask any questions or concerns that you had. These sessions included information about ethics in research, medical school, research and activism, entrepreneurship, and graduate school. Again, they had diverse options.

Especially for someone that is not sure what their major is going to be, this conference was a great way for me to learn about each field. For people where they already knew their major, it was a great way to meet other professionals and students to see what work was being done in your field. I learned so much and had a great time meeting new people.

Nearly 200 student researchers attended NCRC 2017, including four SMU students—a large contingent

by Minaz Zad ’20
photography by Mac Schumer, Harvard University