Departments across Texas Tech came together to showcase innovators, engaged scholars, entrepreneurs and undergraduate researchers.
In its milestone fifth year, last week's Discoveries to Impact (DTI) conference took place hosted more than 1,000 registered participants, featuring students, faculty, staff and community members with a drive to make an impact.
Whether that impact is through community engagement, research and creative activities, or innovations and startups, the conference highlighted the connection between the innovative work being done at Texas Tech University and the impact on the community.
The four Texas Tech departments hosting the event awarded a total of $322,000 throughout the week to support engaged scholarship, undergraduate research, startup creation and innovation.
“The programs, projects and activities from the university's varied disciplines are designed to help a diverse set of local, regional and global communities,” Provost Ron Hendrick said. “We continually look for innovative ways to enhance students' academic experiences by promoting research and creative activity and advancing faculty scholarship.”
Undergraduate Research Conference
In its 15th year, the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) featured more than 400 undergraduate student presenters showcasing their research and creative activities. The week-long event is one of the country's largest interdisciplinary undergraduate research conferences and is hosted by the Center for Transformative Undergraduate Experiences (TrUE).
The poster presentations at the conference featured research and creative activity representing the humanities, performing arts, biological and chemical sciences, social sciences and physical sciences. TrUE proudly awarded 40 student presenters a total of $17,500 in Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA) Outstanding Presenter Awards. It also recognized 49 students as Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers and 28 professors as Outstanding Faculty Mentors.
“I was floored with the incredible show of support we received at this year's Undergraduate Research Conference,” said Levi Johnson, director of TrUE. “With more than 400 student presentations, we had to add an entire session to our schedule and significantly increase the number of volunteer reviewers. We are so proud of these students and thankful for the vibrant, supportive scholarly community at Texas Tech that makes this event possible by giving of their time and expertise.”
The Center for the Integration of STEM Education & Research (CISER) hosted the 31st annual scholarships and awards banquet, bringing together members of the research, leadership and service community. Texas Tech University System leaders, faculty members and students were joined by community and alumni partners as CISER awarded 20 scholarships and awards totaling more than $40,000.
Engaged Scholarship Symposium
The Office of Outreach & Engagement hosted the fifth annual Engaged Scholarship Symposium on April 12. Presentations at the symposium featured partnerships between Texas Tech faculty, staff, or students and K-12 schools, nonprofit organizations, city governments, children, parents, health care professionals, veterans and other community members – all of those partnerships aimed at discovering sustainable solutions to a range of societal issues.
Hendrick, along with representatives from Outreach & Engagement, recognized the 2023 winners of the President's Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award, the President's Emerging Engaged Scholarship Award and the President's Exemplary Program Award. Overall, 22 faculty members were recognized for their engagement with community partners and awarded a total of $11,000.
“This year's awards highlighted the important role that our faculty, staff and students can play in helping often disenfranchised communities address challenges that they may not be able to address on their own,” said Birgit Green, assistant vice provost for Outreach & Engagement. “From working with caretakers of family members with dementia or foster youth, to addressing Vietnam War legacies or improving veterans' mental health, to using animation-making to help individuals with childhood trauma or addiction issues, the community impact is huge.”
Robert D. Newman, the president of the National Humanities Center, was the keynote speaker for the awards luncheon. In his address, Newman highlighted the vital role humanities can play in engaging with communities and finding sustainable solutions to national and international issues.
Innovative Research Demo Day
Innovative Research Demo Day featured research projects in medical design and entrepreneurship.
Teams in both categories competed for People's Choice Awards sponsored by the Innovation Hub at Research Park. Winners and runners-up in each category received checks for $500 and $250 respectively.
Ira Kaganovsky-Green, the founder and CEO of natural hygiene product company Freedom, shared her story of solving a problem many breast cancer patients faced and becoming a breast cancer patient herself. She then joined Taysha Williams, managing director of the Innovation Hub, in awarding the first Texas Tech Accelerator Competition People's Choice Award to AbbyRose, a patented phone case rack called the Rose Rack that showcases phone cases in an organized and aesthetic way.
Texas Tech Accelerator Competition
On Friday (April 14), 17 business and nonprofit startup teams gathered at the Innovation Hub to compete in the final round of the Texas Tech Accelerator Competition and Social Innovation Challenge.
With the support of the Innovation Hub's 57 mentors and volunteers who helped score business plans, the Accelerator Competition awarded 10 startups a combined $250,000. The 10 teams accepted into the year-long Texas Tech Accelerator Program have access to funding support, $25,000 grants, co-working space and mentors.
The awardees were announced at the DTI Closing Party Friday evening. In addition to the 10 awardees, attendees recognized the passion of Hometown Hats Co. and awarded the local hat patch business the second People's Choice Award for the Texas Tech Accelerator.
“DTI week is the best time of the year,” Williams said. “This conference solidifies why it is always a good day to be a Red Raider. Students, faculty and community members all showcased research and creative ideas that are making an impact. By supporting research and innovation, Texas Tech helps shape the future and provides a path for advancing knowledge that will create a better world for everyone.”