Student Research Week Makes Its Virtual Debut at Texas A&M University

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

After being postponed in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, Student Research Week at Texas A&M University is back! The event will be held virtually for the first-time starting Monday, March 29th, and running through Friday, April 2nd, 2021.

Texas A&M can be classified as one of the premier research institutions in the country. Being one of the two land grant schools in the state of Texas, the university emphasizes providing resources for various areas of research.

Student Research Week at Texas A&M was founded in 1994. Since then, the event blossomed from a one-day affair to a week-long occasion.

As undergraduate and graduate students work year-round to make breakthroughs in agriculture, animal science, medicine and so much more, it is important that Texas A&M provides them with the opportunity to showcase their findings.

Even with the switch to a virtual platform, hundreds of students applied for a chance to present their work and put their hats in the draw for cash prizes.

Pranjal Awasthi, director of Student Research Week, sees this year’s participation as a testament to the Aggie spirit.

“This year we have had over 200 students register their abstracts,” Awasthi said. “Typically, the in-person SRW sees somewhere around 300-500 students register for sessions. We were really happy that neither COVID nor the virtual mode dampened the spirits of Aggies.”

Switching the event from in-person to virtual presented a new challenge for the staff, but Awasthi sees this adjustment as a positive way to create valuable feedback for all participants.

“I think this year's SRW has been created in a way that can facilitate a more personalized feedback from the judges,” Awasthi said. “The digital space gives us the chance to not be limited by the constraints of space and venues.”

Contestants showcase their research through oral or poster presentations for the opportunity to receive prizes in different categories from $300-$500. However, the event also has special awards that are received via a donation from those that invest their resources and money into Student Research Week. These awards have specific criteria and the prizes for them can reach up to $1000.

“The special awards are courtesy [of] all our patrons who have been kind enough to support a vibrant research atmosphere for the students,” Awasthi said. “Students are open to enrolling for whichever award they think their research is eligible for. We then work with our judges and patrons to decide which student is awarded the award.”

The event typically hosts professional panels, resource tables, keynote speakers, and many other opportunities for students in addition to the contests. Despite the switch to virtual, Student Research Week will still be able to host some of these sessions for students to partake.

“Professional panels form one of the core pillars of SRW and we strive to get some of the best and most interesting research out to the students through the professional development panels,” Awasthi said. “This year, we have a lot of cross-disciplinary experts whose work has ranged from STEM to law to liberal arts.”

While 2021 presents challenges and adjustments for everyone, Student Research Week at Texas A&M will tackle them head-on. Though this year debuts a new version, Awasthi knows the event is primed to use the virtual edition as a positive experience and continue to evolve for years to come.

“The future of SRW looks bright, resilient, and very encouraging,” Awasthi said. “I feel SRW will continue to perpetuate a cycle of good research, initiate students into research, and provide a platform for all students to make their research visible to everyone.”