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MPL Undergrad Researchers at the CEC Conference

Amplifying Undergraduate Research: MPL at CEC 2024

In March 2024, four MPL undergraduate researchers attended and presented research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at the national Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Conference. This AMAZING opportunity to experience--for their first time--a large research conference was supported by the incredible Cinelli Family Foundation. We are so grateful!

Read about their experiences below!


The CEC Conference in San Antonio was one of the most memorable experiences that I’ve had in my academic career. I am so incredibly grateful I was able to be a part of the conference and to learn from and connect with others. I felt closer to others in the MPL lab as we traversed downtown San Antonio and experienced a cultural music festival. I was able to take pride in the work we did as we presented our research at our poster presentation, explaining the nuances of the work we helped passersby. I was also very interested in the other presenter’s panels and posters. Although special education and mathematics aren’t my major, I believe that a huge basis of the work this community does is founded on empathy and inclusion. I was so excited to walk down the rows of exhibits and learn the niches other researchers and organizations have built for themselves to promote a diverse and accessible world. I was especially excited to see a poster on the socioecological model of public health as well as an organization that centers on teaching children how to healthily manage emotions. In whole, I am so happy I was able to attend this conference and bond with my lab mates while we learned, connected with, and took part in the world of research.


My experience at the CEC Conference in San Antonio more than exceeded my expectations. Being granted the opportunity to interact with other researchers from other universities and communities was very eye-opening. One of my favorite interactions I had was with a researcher from Taiwan. His research interested me because it was on the impact of cycling exercise on students with intellectual disabilities. As a health science major, it made me happy to see that the work I do within the MPL lab can also connect to the work I do within the healthcare field. It was also so exciting to be able to explore San Antonio with my fellow lab members. We were fortunate to be there while there was a free Tejano music festival going on which allowed us to experience a little bit of another culture and enjoy their food as well. The reception at the Briscoe Western Art Museum was a great way to connect with all of the people from the conference in a relaxed setting with such beautiful artwork from local artists. 


Although I was not the target audience for CEC (being a mechanical engineering major) I enjoyed the conference and learned a lot of new things. It was my first time at a research conference and I was a little overwhelmed at first by the sheer size of it. I was able to sit in on two sessions and spent a lot of time at the booths. I even managed to find two organizations that focus on engineering-one of which had a research poster right next to ours-and was able to get some resources to hopefully get an internship over the summer. During this trip, I also made new friends and got to spend time with and get to know some of my coworkers that I don’t often get to hang out with. Overall, it was an incredible experience, and I look forward to attending future conferences with MPL. 


This opportunity was accompanied by a fair share of nerves about presenting and networking, but mostly by an immense appreciation for the conference as a whole and being able to participate in it. While walking around the conference the first few days I was in awe of the amount of attendees and the variety of research being presented. We visited fellow MPL/Mizzou presentations and posters which made me feel so proud of my colleagues, closer, and more prideful of the work we’re doing. Seeing the work visually and being able to communicate with so many different people about it really helped make it feel tangible and impactful. In our free time we explored the city of San Antonio and visited historical sites such as the Alamo and the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Although my major is in Environmental Sciences and not education, I was open to all the research I was presented with and was eager to learn as much as I could. I only wish I could’ve slowed down time and managed to see every presentation available.

MPL Experiencing the Conference and San Antonio!

 An impactful experience supported by both the NSF and the Cinelli Family Foundation.


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