NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will hold its 14th Annual Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) on Thursday, April 21. Posters will be presented from 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. in the Venable Hall Gymnasium. Paper presentations and special sessions will take place 9:30-10:50 a.m. in Bowman Hall, and 2-4:50 p.m. in Murdock Hall. Special art exhibits will be displayed throughout the day in the Bowman Gallery and in Murdock Hall room 208.

This event, which showcases research projects in a variety of disciplines, is free and open to the public. Approximately 145 students from across all discipline areas will offer 129 presentations during this all-day event.

With nearly double the number of last year’s 65 presentations, this year’s event will be the biggest Undergraduate Research Conference the College has held to date, according to Graziana Ramsden, chair of the Undergraduate Research Council at MCLA.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Chloe McGrath ’13. Originally from Adams, Mass., she graduated summa cum laude with a major in political science and public policy, and a minor in history.  In May, McGrath will graduate from American University’s Master of Public Policy graduate program with a concentration in public finance management.

Since September 2015, McGrath has been a federal Pathways program trainee at the Internal Revenue Service’s Office of Chief Counsel, Department of Treasury, in Washington, D.C. Upon her graduation next month, she will begin working as a management analyst for the Department of Treasury.

Previous to her work as a trainee with the Department of Treasury, McGrath served a number of internships in Washington, D.C., including with Franklin Partnership, where she conducted legislative research; with Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA); and with public affairs firm Hamilton Place Strategies.

McGrath will speak on “Seizing Opportunities after a Liberal Arts Education” at 12 p.m. in the Amsler Campus Center gymnasium.

“I am so grateful for this opportunity to come back to MCLA. I’m very excited to see some faculty whom I have missed very much. Some of my best memories in my life happened at MCLA, so it was and always will be a very special place for me,” McGrath said.

She also looks forward to seeing the work MCLA students have prepared for the conference.

“The URC was one of my favorite events while I was a student, so this is something I'm really looking forward to,” McGrath said. “I love seeing the variety of research, so I know without a doubt I will learn some new things.”

“Undergraduate Research at MCLA has become woven into the fabric of the curriculum,” Ramsden said. “Faculty at MCLA require research, analysis and presentation across the curriculum.

“Researching a topic in depth fosters interest and curiosity in students,” Ramsden continued. “When asked to present their research, students already know their topic very well and can speak to the details with ease. In addition, as students come to own the information, they can think critically to connect dots and relate to a wider context.”

The conference is part of the College’s expanding Undergraduate Research Program, which emphasizes individual opportunities for student work with faculty.

“Faculty and students can do this type of work here because MCLA is a small institution, where students work alongside faculty members in a supportive environment, where every student counts.” Ramsden said. “The Undergraduate Research program is proud to support the work that the MCLA students and faculty do, not only with the annual conference, but also with travel to national conferences such as the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) Regional undergraduate research conference and the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR).”

In addition to the poster, paper and special presentations, MCLA President James F. Birge will offer opening remarks at 9 a.m. in Bowman Hall, and McGrath will be available to meet campus and community members from 1:30 to 2 p.m. in the Sullivan Lounge.

For more information, including descriptions of all projects and presentations, go to

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.​