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Luring hungry students with free food is a good way to pack an auditorium, but the Soup & Science series has become a huge hit based on more than the promise of soup.
Offered for the third consecutive semester, the series, which runs Jan. 8-12, is as popular as ever, with 100 or so students attending each lunch-time session at the Redpath Museum. The Office of Undergraduate Research in Science (OURS) inaugurated the series in January 2006 to showcase professors and a wide variety of research topics as a means of helping science undergrads get involved in research.
Each session features six professors, who present rapid-fire, high-energy, three-minute summations of their research interests. "The food aspect helps, but many of these students are straight out of high school and so they're eager to learn about topics they haven't been exposed to yet," said Master's Chemistry student Chris McQuinn.
For the first time, this week the series includes a presentation from someone in the Faculty of Arts, Political Science Professor Stuart Soroka. "Casting a wider net shows students the wealth of opportunity out there," said OURS Undergraduate Research Officer Victor Chisholm. "Although we've drawn from disciplines like geography and psychology that straddle fields, this is the first time we've had a presentation from Arts."
Students can also sample topics ranging from database replication in application servers to the relationship between land-usage rights and environmental change.
As always, each session concludes with Faculty of Science Dean Martin Grant quizzing the students ("Can you taste a protein in your soup?") and deftly tossing T-shirts to those who answer correctly. Lunch is then served along with the chance for students to mingle with the professors and delve a little deeper into research opportunities that may have piqued their interest.