Guidelines for abstracts and research statements

Your abstract will be published in the Scholars Day program, and it should be submitted in final, publishable form. It will also be used in the selection process.

[Print version]

2024 Scholars Day

Applications open: Jan. 10
Applications close: Apr. 9
Scholars Day

- OR -

Poster session event
Registration opens: Jan. 10
Registration closes: Apr. 9
Poster session registration

Writing an abstract

Goal: An abstract should provide a short but clear statement of your research project. In one to three sentences, it tells the reader the purpose of the paper, the methodology used, the results, and the importance of the results.

Best Practices: A well-crafted abstract will touch on four main elements of the project, as described below. You’ll want to think through each element carefully, even though you may just touch on it in the abstract. Remember, an abstract is SHORT!!!

Explain the purpose of your paper. State the primary objectives and scope of the paper. What is the rationale for your research? Why did you choose the topic of research? Is the topic you are researching an ignored or newly discovered one? Why is it significant? What is your thesis statement?

Clearly state the methodology (techniques or approaches) used in your paper. What is the method or “lens” you are using for analysis? What is the larger organizational structure?

Describe your results so far. What have you learned or revealed in your research? Give special priority to new findings that contradict previous theories. (In other words, have there been any surprises?)

Describe the implications of the results. Why are the results of your research important to your field? This is a time to emphasize the “so what” factor.

Length: The abstract should be no more than 75 words.

Example of a completed abstract:

This interpretive study analyzes the journals of middle-school girls who attend an urban public school to determine how they use journal writing to negotiate the joys and difficulties of adolescence. Comparing the journals with statements gained through interviews, the study shows that writing is used as an outlet for positive but not negative emotions and therefore challenges previous research on the topic. (word count: 62)

(Sources: and

Research statement

A research statement is your fleshed-out description of the project that you are submitting for Scholars Day. It is a 150-300 word summary that will be used in the selection process.

Although the space to describe your research is limited, the research statement you submit should contain these elements:

  • A rationale for the choice of topic, showing why it is important or useful within the concerns of the discipline in which you are writing.

  • A review of existing published work ("the literature") that relates to a topic. Here you need to tell how your work builds on existing studies and yet explores new territory.

  • An outline of your approach or methodology (perhaps with comparisons to existing published work).

Particular disciplines have different ways of organizing a research statement. For this reason, it is wise to work closely with your faculty advisor when organizing your research statement.

  • Start with why your idea is intriguing (how it contributes to the field), then fill in how you address your idea (the technicalities about the topic and method).

  • Provide enough detail to give the reader/reviewer a good sense of your main claim(s).

  • Show confidence and eagerness by using the first person "I" (if that is acceptable in your discipline) as well as using active verbs, concise style and positive phrasing.

Abstract and research statement examples

Enhancement of Lipid Production in Freshwater Microalgae through Nitrogen Deficiency

Presenter: Allison Myers


My study investigated lipid productivity of two species of microalgae, specifically how lipid production may be maximized through modification of nitrogen content during growth in a bioreactor. Due to a failure to grow in the bioreactor, Scenedesmus sp. was unable to undergo lipid extraction. The greatest lipid yield was produced by Chlorella sp. under nitrogen deficiency. These results supported the hypothesis that nitrogen deficiency leads to an increase in algal lipid production.

Research statement

Note: To see an example of a completed research statement, click on the tab for Engineering.

Biomass growth and lipid extraction of Nannochloropsis oculata under natural and artificial light

Presenter: Lee Brewer

Nannochloropsis oculata is an algal strain that shows significant promise in the production of biofuels. Energy requirements in the growth, separation, and synthesis of this method of producing biofuels often negate any benefit of this renewable energy source. This experiment focused on reducing some of these energy requirements by investigating the effect different natural and artificial light sources has on both biomass growth and lipid production by the algae.

Research statement

Note: To see an example of a completed research statement, click on the tab for Engineering.

Presenter: Chris Harris


Assessing technology and curriculum design can be a challenge. Measuring successful integration and teacher understanding against national standards for technology education is the subject of this presentation. Workshop design, training, and effectiveness are analyzed in light survey data in order to reveal up-to-date best practices for training teachers and administrators, and raising student success through a variety of technologies.

Research statement

This thesis project created a series of three professional development workshops to train K-8 teachers on incorporating technology into their curriculum. The workshops were designed in response to the review of literature about effective methods of presenting professional development in education, with a specific focus on what is effective for training teachers on technology integration that will ultimately lead to gains in student achievement. The content was aligned with the International Society for Technology Education standards for technology integration (NETS-S: National Education Technology Standards for Students). The effectiveness of the workshops were analyzed using survey data from the participants, which used pre and post test responses to show what changes, if any, occurred with respect to teacher attitudes towards technology integration, attitudes about the workshop content and presenter, and understanding of the standards. The survey data validated that the goals of the project were met to increase teacher understanding of the NETS-S standards, and to increase teacher confidence in applying the standards. Detailed analysis of the survey data is presented, followed by suggestions for further study and applications for the workshops.

Presenter: Katy Connor Beattie

During this study, in-context and out-of-context strategies were utilized to determine the most effective way to teach grammar in a classroom. The participants were fourth grade students at a low socioeconomic, rural school in Washington State. After a pre-assessment on grammar skills, students were assigned to Group A (out-of-context) or group B (in-context) for eight ten minute grammar mini lessons. A grammar skills post-test and conduction of a T-Test were showed no significant pattern in favor of the in-context strategy or the out-of-context strategy. Informal discussions however showed that students preferred being taught in small groups and agreed that the group they were in used a better strategy than the other group. This study has shown a need for more research done in the area of teaching grammar effectively through in-context instruction.

Research statement

Note: To see an example of a completed research statement, click on the  tab (above) for Education.

Effect of Tetracycline on the Foraging Behaviors and Community Recovery Rate of the Termite Species Reticulitermes speratus

Presenter: Kersten Stanton

Termites have a complex, mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationship with bacteria that have the unique ability to break down cellulose into useable, energy-rich compounds in the termite’s gut. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of these bacteria on their host’s behavior. The data collected suggests that community foraging increases along with community disorientation when the gut bacteria are destroyed. This study has implications in the fields of biofuel production and pest control.

Research statement

Note: To see an example of a completed research statement, click on the tab for Engineering.

Zhukhovsky Airfoils

Presenters: Travis Bleich, Pat Carroll


Using complex potential it’s possible to map cylinders to airfoils for the purpose of determining airflows around these arbitrary wing shapes. This project examines the transformation equations used for these conformal mappings. After mapping airflow over a cylinder onto a complex airfoil the effects of lift and pressure on these airfoils can be calculated.

Research statement

In real world applications complex flow patterns often arise. To perform lift and pressure calculations on these flows we must first be able to simplify the flow pattern. One such method of simplification is mapping, between two complex planes. A mapping is performed when formulas on the primary plane are put through a transformation equation and turned into new formulas on the secondary plane. Using this concept complicated flow patterns such as the airflow over the cross section of a wing for an airplane can be determined. A simple infinite cylinder under ideal flow can be modeled on the primary plane, and the streamline equations can be transformed to the wing section on the secondary plane.

The Russian scientist N.E. Zhukhovsky worked with these transformation equations involving airfoils. Specifically he developed the equation w=Jz=z+1/z which can be applied to a unit circle on the complex plane. This creates a mapping from the circle to the Zhukhovsky airfoil. If the streamlines around the cylinder are known then their images can likewise be mapped by the same equation. Varying the circle’s center in the primary complex plane allows for varying curvature of the airfoil shape. The collection of these airfoils is known as the family of Zhukhovsky airfoils. This greatly simplifies analysis done on the airfoil.

The circulation, angle of attack, and velocity can all be transformed from one plane to the other, and then performance characteristics such as lift and pressure can be calculated with the aid of the transformation.

In this project we will examine how this transformation can be carried out using Theodorsen’s method. This is an indirect solution using conformal mapping. This avoids a direct solution using Laplace transforms which in general only provides analytic solutions assuming ‘thin airfoil theory’ applies.

A magical opportunity in Bulgakov's the Master and Margarita

Presenter: Betty Ramirez

In Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, Master and Margarita, the Devil comes to Moscow and asks, “has the human heart changed?” Bulgakov uses the magical characters Woland (the Devil) and Yeshua (Jesus Christ) as a literary motif to question how we should live our lives. We learn through this novel that magic becomes a life changing experience, bringing new opportunities to fulfill our lives. Bulgakov’s novel brings to life forgotten values in the world to remind his audience that without magic life is meaningless and empty.

Research statement

Note: To see an example of a completed research statement, click on the tab for History.

Imbued with restless sentiments of anarchy and collectivism: Albert Johnson's war against radical aliens

Presenter: Christopher Henry

In 1924, the United States Congress passed the most restrictive piece of immigration legislation in the country’s history. This law established a Northern European biased quota system and barred all immigration from Asia. The author and lead proponent of this law, Albert Johnson, harbored an intense fear and hatred of radical socialists and devoted a majority of his career to immigration restriction as a means of combating radicalism in the United States.

Research statement

By the 1920s, the United States was becoming divided between the dominant white, Anglo, Protestant middle and upper classes, and a rapidly growing foreign working class comprised of numerous ethnicities, religions, and cultural values. The advent of World War I, the call for total Americanism, and widespread, increasingly violent labor struggles brought national sentiments on nativism to a fever pitch. Increasingly restrictionist legislation followed, culminating in the 1924 Johnson and Reed Immigration Act. This blatantly racist law was designed to maintain the Northwest European racial dominance of America, and prevent socialist immigrants from entering the United States and possibly challenging American capitalism.

The legislation’s primary author and sponsor, Albert Johnson, was at the center of the immigration debate a decade before the bill’s passage. A lifelong newspaper man, Johnson resided in Hoquiam, Washington, and through his Daily Washingtonian built his nativist ideology largely on the labor activism of the Industrial Workers of the World operating in Hoquiam and Aberdeen. During this tumultuous period in the Twin Harbors, Johnson gained a reputation as a vehement anti-radical. Hatred of radicals and socialists formed the core of Johnson’s anti-immigrant ideology, and drove him to pursue the most restrictive immigration legislation in the nation’s history.

This research project brings to light the motives at the core of Johnson’s restrictionist policies. Numerous books, articles, and dissertations have been consulted, especially, John Higham’s “Strangers in the Land” as well as Johnson’s editorials and Congressional documents including a large online eugenics archive. The evidence appears to confirm the thesis that Johnson used racial and xenophobic arguments to eradicate a burgeoning socialist movement. Johnson’s editorials and speeches show prove him an enemy of socialism for whom ending immigration was the solution to class division and social unrest.

Plato and democratic illness: The Republic as a reform document

Presenter: Amy Pollard

A unisex locker room, a rigged dating service, a daycare that children never leave…shocked? You are not alone. The social measures in Plato’s Republic shocked Athenians too. Is Plato serious about these measures? Does he want to destroy democracy? I will argue that Plato seeks not to destroy democracy but to reform democracy. Therefore, The Republic should be read not as a practical government plan but as a reform document, intended to spark civic debate that will save democracy.

Research statement

Note: To see an example of a completed research statement, click on the tab for History.

Rehearsal for reality and sexual harassment

Presenter: Olivia Baumgartner

This presentation explores a study using Augusto Boal’s “rehearsal of reality” with women to increase confidence and preparedness for situations of sexual harassment. Women at Saint Martin’s University were given the opportunity to share experiences with sexual harassment. They acted out these experiences and explored alternative outcomes. This was followed by the opportunity to share how the workshop affected their confidence or preparedness. Responses were assessed to evaluate the change or increase in confidence and preparedness.

Research statement

Note: To see an example of a completed research statement, click on the tab for History.

Scholars Day questions? Contact