April 15, 2019 Architecture Students Present Research at Undergraduate Research Symposium

Three Architecture students participated in the 10th annual Undergraduate Research Students’ Association (URSA) Research Symposium on April 5.

Michael Travis and Allie Ward, 3rd-year students, and 5th-year student Katie Lamb gave 15-minute presentations about their undergraduate research projects as part of the symposium.

URSA is a student organization dedicated to expanding access to undergraduate research at UT. The organization does so by connecting faculty with students seeking undergraduate research positions, promoting undergraduate research and creating an undergraduate research culture.

Students participate in this symposium to gain experience presenting and discussing their research with peers. In addition, the Architecture students hoped to spark dialogue with others outside the college about design and its role in everyday processes through their presentations.

“The work within the college is more than just creating ‘buildings,’” Travis said. “The issues and circumstances that we address engage a larger audience that is otherwise unaware of architecture’s role in processes.”

Travis plans to start conversations about architecture’s role through his research about food systems. His abstract, titled “Farm to Table,” discusses architecture’s role in economies, practices and networks of food. He emphasizes that the architect is not the sole person in charge of the design and that local farmers to corporate executives influence designs for food projects as well.

Ward also focuses on food in her research. Her abstract, titled “MEATSPACE,” addresses how meat is the central component of a meal and how meals spark intimate conversations. Those intimate conversations help build connections, making them the “meat” of the meal experience. Ward translates these moments and meat to architecture through using cross-sections of meat to inspire architectural designs.

“I am hopeful for follow-up conversations and questions that really challenge my ideas and teach me how people outside of the college will respond,” Ward said. “It’s really helpful to reflect on what I have learned, continue to build upon my findings and verbalize my research.”

Lamb’s research, titled “Surrogate of Memory,” explores the relationship between photography and social media as systems of cataloging memories. She focuses on Instagram specifically to see how architecture and place are constructed through this changing memory cataloging system.

“I’m looking forward to feedback from people who have different experiences other than architecture and design,” Lamb said.

URSA accepts 100 abstracts across the university every year and allows about half of those students to present their research. This year, 48 students were chosen.

This is the second year that students in the college have been chosen to participate in the URSA Research Symposium. In 2018, Dillon Dunn presented his research about architecture’s role in experiences, specifically dealing with “American Oblivion.” Dunn also was named UT’s 2018 Undergraduate Researcher of the Year, a 2018 Fulbright Scholar and a 2017 Aydelott Travel Award recipient.