Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge

TURC is an innovative program that enables undergraduates to take challenging courses and conduct advanced research with the guidance of top TU professors.

Alicia Ruskey

TURC and Chouteau Elementary Photography Workshop


An Adventure To Discover Our Own Special Light: A TURC and Chouteau Elementary Photography Workshop and Exhibition Summer 2012

An Adventure to Discover Our Own Special Light is a photography workshop created between the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge, a program that enables undergraduate students at the University of Tulsa to conduct research with the guidance of TU professors, and Tulsa Public School’s Chouteau Elementary. The title of the project was named as such to mean two things: it is an adventure for the students to discover their own unique perspective in the context of photography, but also to discover that, through art, they can express themselves.

The purpose of the workshop was to introduce the students to digital photography as an art form though the means of projects designed to teach some of the overarching concepts in photography and in art. The workshop lasted for six weeks from late April to early June. During this time, each student was given a camera to use (Chouteau Elementary now owns the cameras). A concept would be introduced with a presentation including background information and work by well-known photographers. Then, a project would be assigned meant to give the students the opportunity to discover more from first-hand experience. The main goal of this workshop was to teach them not only how to take a good picture, but also how to create a good composition, and to develop an eye to become visually aware of what is around them.

This exhibition features the culmination of each student’s work: photo documentary, cyanotypes, portraiture, and Photoshop work. Additionally, there are two collaborative projects: the cyanotype quilt and the Hockney photo collage. The photo documentary consists of four of each student’s photos that best tell about life at Chouteau Elementary. The best of each student’s cyanotypes are included in the quilt in addition to being on display individually. The portraiture segment features each student’s most engaging image of another person. The Photoshop portion is comprised of work that certain students decided were worthy of showing. Lastly, the Hockney photo collage was a group effort, made up of photos of one scene taken by the students, and then put together by the students, with some help.

A message from Alicia Ruskey, TURC student

A special thank you to the Williams Foundation for donating enough cameras to Chouteau Elementary; the TURC board for funding the project; and my mentor and professor M. Teresa Valero, for not only helping me throughout the entire project, but also having faith in me to successfully carry it out.

I would like to congratulate the students participating in this workshop, and I sincerely hope that they will continue with photography, and that art will always be part of their lives.

The Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC) is an innovative program that enables undergraduates to take challenging courses and conduct advanced research with the guidance of top TU professors.

Its aim is to create leaders in scholarship, research and public life. Specifically, the program emphasizes undergraduate research and community involvement.

Participants in TURC are selected by a competitive application process.  To apply, submit the Application Form by April 19, 2014.

Questions about the TURC program? Email Nona Charleston at nona-charleston@utulsa.edu.

Undergraduate Research

The centerpiece of the program is research, or scholarship. The goals of such research may be to deliver papers at academic conferences, to produce publishable articles, or to initiate meaningful community projects. In disciplines in which publications are not the standard of scholarship, other criteria may be used (e.g., a musical composition, an art exhibit).

Each TURC student has a faculty mentor who will help the student along paths of mutual interest and will monitor his or her progress. The TURC program recognizes the academic disciplines are variable in the ways scholars conduct research and in the amount of background study necessary to be effective in this endeavor. As a result, the kind and amount of preparation necessary will vary by discipline and by individual student and project.

TURC participants receive the training and mentoring needed to contend for nationally competitive scholarships such as the Goldwater, Marshall, Truman, and Rhodes and the National Science Foundation graduate fellowships. Competing for scholarships is neither the program's primary goal nor fitting for every TURC student. But given the program's inherent components, applying for nationally competitive scholarships has been a natural progression for many TURC students.

Community Involvement

A fundamental precept of the TURC Program is that all TURC students have an obligation to give something back to the community. Every student in this program should contribute to the community in some way, whether that be in tutoring younger students, helping in a community service organization, or getting involved in some other capacity.

Students participate in service projects of their choosing. They can arrange this with their faculty mentors, independently, or through the Dean of Community Service. Students who would like to volunteer as a group with other TURC students make arrangements through the Associate Director of TURC.

Junior Scholars Program

The TURC Junior Scholars Program recognizes high school juniors with outstanding potential for a career in research by providing opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research areas.  The program builds upon the nationally recognized Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge and includes in-depth work with a research team, access to modern instrumentation, and potential opportunities to participate in the research dialogue through publications and presentations.