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The College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences (CNMS) will host its annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fest virtually from August 5 to 14 to provide an online platform for summer undergraduate research presentations at UMBC. Since 1997, student researchers including participants in the MARC U*STAR, HHMI, STEM BUILD, the Summer Biomedical Training, and NSF REUs have presented their summer research projects as oral talks or scientific posters at this annual event.

In 2020, student researchers will upload their presentations as individual VoiceThreads and submit them to a ThreadBox that is curated for the Virtual 2020 Summer Undergraduate Research Fest.

Visitor's Guide


Throughout the event, virtual attendees can post written or recorded comments and questions to the 2020 Virtual Summer Undergraduate Research Fest VoiceThread and undergraduate researchers will be able to respond and receive feedback.

Tell Me

 How to find and view SURF presentations
  1. Go to the SURF presenters page (link coming soon). An account is not required to view presentations.
  2. Select a presentation. An icon () will indicate if it is available in VoiceThread.
  3. The link will open a new window.
  4. Click the play button from a student presentation.
  5. Use the arrows at the bottom of the page to navigate through the slides if there is more than one.

 How to ask a question or post feedback
  1. Go to the SURF presenters page (link coming soon).
  2. Select a presentation. An icon () will indicate if it is available in VoiceThread.
  3. The link will open a new window.
  4. Click the play button from a student presentation.
  5. Use the arrows at the bottom of the page to navigate through the slides if there is more than one.
  6. Click on the + icon at the bottom of the slide to post a comment (requires UMBC account).
  7. After your audio narration is reviewed and uploaded, click Save.
  8. For visitors without a UMBC email account, in order to post a comment on a VoiceThread, you will first need to create a free non-UMBC VoiceThread account at https://voicethread.com. Then, return to SURF to comment.

Student Presenters


A key component to research is presenting and sharing the findings with the scientific community. To share findings with the scientific community, researchers publish a manuscript, give an oral presentation with slides, and present a poster. The Summer Undergraduate Research Fest provides undergraduate researchers with the opportunity to present their summer work in either a narrated slide or narrated poster format. Student Presenters will use VoiceThread to present and give narrated presentations of their research.


 Click here for information for student presenters with UMBC credentials

Show Me

There are 3 key steps for students to participate in the 2020 Virtual Summer Undergraduate Research Fest. The video below reviews Step 1.


Tell Me

There are 3 key steps for students to participate in the 2020 Virtual Summer Undergraduate Research Fest (expand each section below to review the steps):


 Step 1: Create Your VoiceThread
  1. Log into VoiceThread. Use Chrome for the best experience.
  2. Click on Create in the upper left corner of your VoiceThread dashboard.



  3. Select your presentation file from your computer or drag the file to the Add Media drop zone. 



    • Uploading presentations and documents will turn each slide or page into a separate slide in VoiceThread. A 20-slide PowerPoint presentation will become a 20-slide VoiceThread. PDF, however, is recommended for best compatibility.
    • If you are presenting a media file, please review supported file formats. Students can upload up to 1 GB of files. If your presentation or video is too large to upload or process, please chunk it into smaller files and upload them separately.
  4. IMPORTANT: The following information is key for how people will find your SURF presentation:
    • Enter a title for your SURF presentation: Presentation Title
    • Enter a brief description for your presentation.
    • Enter tag:
      • SURF2020
  5. Click Save.
  6. Wait for VoiceThread to process your file. Depending on the size of the file and its type, this could take a few minutes. 



  7. Once your file is uploaded, click Comment to add your narration.



  8. Click on the + icon at the bottom of the slide to record your audio narration. You can record 10-15 minutes per slide in a VoiceThread deck depending on the audio option you choose.



    Although you can use video or text, we recommend three audio-based options:
  9. After your audio narration is reviewed and uploaded, click Save.
    • VoiceThread will automatically transcribe and caption your narration. Depending on the length of each comment you recorded, these automatic captions will process over the next hour through VoiceThread's system. You should review these captions for accessibility and make corrections. See → How do I edit automatic captions on a VoiceThread?


 Step 2: Submit Your VoiceThread
  1. Go to the main SURF ThreadBox collection in VoiceThread (contact SURF).

  2. Find your discipline ThreadBox collection in VoiceThread.
  3. Click on the Add Your Own link in the right corner of the ThreadBox.



  4. Click Select from my VoiceThreads.



  5. Find your presentation and select it.
  6. Your presentation will appear in the department collection after mentor approval has been confirmed. NOTE: VoiceThreads are listed by the newest submission first.
  7. Get the Share link to your VoiceThread, and submit it to the SURF Submission Google Form (contact SURF) so that your VoiceThread is displayed with your name on the SURF page. 
 Step 3: Respond to feedback on your VoiceThread presentation
  1. Log into VoiceThread and access the ThreadBox where your VoiceThread is posted.
  2. Open your VoiceThread.
  3. Click on a comment to read, listen, or view the question/feedback.
  4. To reply to the comment, click on the Direct Reply icon inside the user's comment window.



  5. Your VoiceThread identity image will appear as a preview in the conversation channel to preview where your comment will reside.



    You will also see the user's name to whom you are replying in the comment dial at the bottom of the VoiceThread.
  6. Select the comment option you would like to use for replying to the feedback. To enhance the conference experience, we again recommend audio.
    1. Audio from a microphone: Use your computer to record the audio narration.
    2. Audio from a telephone: Enter your phone number and VoiceThread will call you so you can record your audio narration.
    3. Audio from a pre-recorded file: Use any device to record the audio narration and upload the file.
  7. After your audio narration is reviewed and uploaded, click Save.

After you save your comment, it will appear in the conversation channel as a threaded reply.

 Click here for information for student presenters without UMBC credentials

Tell Me

There are 4 key steps for students to participate in the 2020 Virtual Summer Undergraduate Research Fest.

These instructions are for students without a UMBC email account. If you have a UMBC email account, please see the information in the section above for students with UMBC credentials. Expand each section below to review the steps.


 Step 1: Create a VoiceThread Account (SEE ABOVE IF YOU HAVE A UMBC EMAIL ACCOUNT)
  1. Go to https://voicethread.com

  2. Select Register in the upper right-hand corner.

  3. Complete the information needed to register for a new account.

  4. A screen will show that Activation is required.

  5. Check your email and verify your email address by following the link in the email.

  6. You will see a confirmation screens showing that your account has been activated.

  7. Sign in to VoiceThread using your email address and VoiceThread password.

  8. Wait for your VoiceThread account to process. Refresh your browser window if the VoiceThread dashboard does not load.

  9. Once the site loads, you will see your VoiceThread account.



 Step 2: Create Your VoiceThread
  1. Log into VoiceThread as reviewed in Step 1 above. Use Chrome for the best experience.
  2. Click on Create in the upper left corner of your VoiceThread dashboard.



  3. Select your presentation file from your computer or drag the file to the Add Media drop zone. 



    • Uploading presentations and documents will turn each slide or page into a separate slide in VoiceThread. A 20-slide PowerPoint presentation will become a 20-slide VoiceThread. PDF, however, is recommended for best compatibility.
    • If you are presenting a media file, please review supported file formats. Students using a free VT account (and not a UMBC VT account) can upload files under 25 MB in size. If your presentation or video is too large to upload or process, please chunk it into smaller files and upload them separately.
  4. IMPORTANT: The following information is key for how people will find your SURF presentation:
    • Enter a title for your SURF presentation: Presentation Title
    • Enter a brief description for your presentation.
    • Enter tag:
      • SURF2020
  5. Click Save.
  6. Wait for VoiceThread to process your file. Depending on the size of the file and its type, this could take a few minutes. 



  7. Once your file is uploaded, click Comment to add your narration.



  8. Click on the + icon at the bottom of the slide to record your audio narration. You can record 10-15 minutes per slide in a VoiceThread deck depending on the audio option you choose.



    Although you can use video or text, we recommend three audio-based options:
  9. After your audio narration is reviewed and uploaded, click Save.
    • VoiceThread will automatically transcribe and caption your narration. Depending on the length of each comment you recorded, these automatic captions will process over the next hour through VoiceThread's system. You should review these captions for accessibility and make corrections. See → How do I edit automatic captions on a VoiceThread?
  10. Select the Options icon and select Playback Settings.
  11. Change the settings in order to Limit each comment to 5 minutes.
  12. Select Share
  13. On the Basic tab, next to link that can be copied, make sure that the options to allow anyone to view and comment are enabled.


 Step 3: Submit Your VoiceThread
  1. Go to the main SURF ThreadBox collection in VoiceThread (contact SURF).

  2. Find your discipline ThreadBox collection in VoiceThread.
  3. Click on the Add Your Own link in the right corner of the ThreadBox.



  4. Click Select from my VoiceThreads.



  5. Find your presentation and select it.
  6. Your presentation will appear in the department collection after mentor approval has been confirmed. NOTE: VoiceThreads are listed by the newest submission first.
  7. Get the Share link to your VoiceThread, and submit it to the SURF Submission Google Form (contact SURF) so that your VoiceThread is displayed with your name on the SURF page. 
 Step 4: Respond to feedback on your VoiceThread presentation
  1. Log into VoiceThread and access the ThreadBox where your VoiceThread is posted.
  2. Open your VoiceThread.
  3. Click on a comment to read, listen, or view the question/feedback.
  4. To reply to the comment, click on the Direct Reply icon inside the user's comment window.



  5. Your VoiceThread identity image will appear as a preview in the conversation channel to preview where your comment will reside.



    You will also see the user's name to whom you are replying in the comment dial at the bottom of the VoiceThread.
  6. Select the comment option you would like to use for replying to the feedback. To enhance the conference experience, we again recommend audio.
    1. Audio from a microphone: Use your computer to record the audio narration.
    2. Audio from a telephone: Enter your phone number and VoiceThread will call you so you can record your audio narration.
    3. Audio from a pre-recorded file: Use any device to record the audio narration and upload the file.
  7. After your audio narration is reviewed and uploaded, click Save.

After you save your comment, it will appear in the conversation channel as a threaded reply.

Tips for Using VoiceThread During SURF 2020

  • Upload a profile picture to your VoiceThread account. This ensures your comments will have a photo to identify yourself to other users and adds a personal touch to the experience. See → How do I upload a photo to my VoiceThread account?
  • Keep notifications enabled for your VoiceThread presentation. By default, you will receive an instant email notification every time someone records a comment on your VoiceThread presentation or one that you commented on. Click on the comment in that email to open it in your web browser. If you are not receiving the instant notifications even though they are enabled, please review VoiceThread's email troubleshooting tips.
  • Reminder: Support accessibility! Automatic captions will process for your VoiceThread presentation narration through VoiceThread's system. You should review these captions for accessibility and make corrections so other users who rely on this functionality will have accurate captions. See → How do I edit automatic captions on a VoiceThread?
  • Forgot tags? That's okay! You can easily update this information in your original VoiceThread. Open your VoiceThread and click on the ≡ icon in the upper left corner to edit. Once your VT opens, look for your title -- next to the title, there's a tiny "edit" link. Selecting that will open a small pop-up where you can edit your tags.
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