President George Bridges listens to a student presentation during the 2010 Undergraduate Conference.

The annual Whitman Undergraduate Conference showcases and celebrates the creativity, scholarship and academic pursuits of Whitman College students, who become instructors for a day. The conference features a full day of student presentations, exploring topics that reflect every academic area of the college.

This year’s conference, the 13th annual, takes place Tuesday, April 12 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. in venues across campus. It is free and open to the public.

Students present the original work they have produced in their courses, senior theses, summer internships and study abroad. Visit the conference Web site for details on locations and presenters.

“The Undergraduate Conference is a special day for everyone on campus. Students become teachers, and faculty and staff get be students again,” said Keith Raether, director of fellowships and grants. “I also think the conference setting and format give all of our student presenters a keener sense of the value of their work. In that knowledge, I think they gain a certain seriousness of purpose as emerging scholars. They start to see, or see better, what their research and critical thinking means in the larger frame.”

Ari Frink ’11 presents his research at last year's Undergraduate Conference.

More than 250 students will present at the conference through a variety of presentation methods, including talks, poster presentations, musical performances and artistic exhibitions. There are four sessions, which include 34 concurrent panels of discussion, Topics range from “Disease Studies” to “Women in the World” and “Community Issues: Whitman, Walla Walla” to “Nations and Tensions.” Poster presentations take place in Cordiner Hall from 1-2 p.m.

Within those panels of discussion, topics branch out to include subjects such as early 20th century traveling circuses, cosmopolitan romance in Nepal, snakebite treatment in Kenya, Parkinson’s disease, attention delays in infants living in poverty, environmental assessment of the Deepwater Verizon oil spill, food access in Washington, D.C. and a modern dance routine illustrating the principles of physical chemistry.

Whitman College, in Walla Walla, Wash., is the premier liberal arts college that combines academic excellence with an unpretentious Northwest culture and an engaging community. An independent, non-sectarian residential college, Whitman fosters intellectual vitality, confidence and leadership in its 1,450 students. Also noted for its commitment to environmental principles, Whitman is characterized by intellect, down-to-earth sensibilities, collaboration over competition and active lifestyle.