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As SURI students, many of you will hopefully be participating in the Fall Research Forum and the Denman Undergraduate Forum later this year. Some of you may have presented at this past Denman, and for some this fall might be the first time you have presented your own research outside of a classroom setting. Hopefully some of you will be able to attend national conferences in your field and present a poster or even give a podium presentation!
At OSU, there are a number of undergraduate research forums. The big ones which include students from many majors are the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, the Fall Undergraduate Research Forum, the Natural and Mathematical Sciences Undergraduate Forum, and the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences forum. There are more, but these are usually for specific majors or departments-check out website here for a complete list. The Denman is the largest-over 600 students presented this year, and the Fall Forum that our office puts on usually has around 90-a much smaller group.
Presenting your research at a poster forum is a unique experience and a lot of fun! This is your chance to show off your hard work to the OSU community (and if you get the chance to present at a national conference, to colleagues in your field!). No matter the setting, any large poster forum will be a hectic day- so be prepared for some possible chaos and don’t stress out too much! Even if there are some glitches, everything will go off without a hitch-just concern yourself with talking about your research.
At OSU poster forums, you are more likely to talk to someone who has no idea what your project title even means than to someone in a similar field. This is a great opportunity to learn how to speak about your work to the general public, rather than informed scholars in your field of research who will understand all the jargon you can throw at them. At forums with judges (like the Denman) you may get a judge from a related field, but even that doesn’t always happen.
When you are presenting your research, remember that you are the expert on this subject! You know more about your research than anyone in the room, and even if someone asks you a question you weren’t expecting, you know the answer to some possible crazy questions. I do recommend preparing a short (~5 minute) presentation-you can always adjust it to fit the situation (i.e. depending on what questions someone asks, how much they know about your work, if they’re a judge or the public, etc.).
Don’t forget to take the opportunity at these poster forums to visit your fellow students’ posters, and find out more about the amazing research other undergraduates are doing here!
If you present at a national conference in your area of study (for example, at the meeting of the Geological Society of America) the atmosphere is different than an OSU forum. For one, everyone there will be in your field and you will hopefully have the opportunity to meet and talk about your work with other interested colleagues.
Many national conferences do have poster sessions as well as the typical symposium sessions, and many more are now including specific undergraduate poster sessions into the conference agenda. A presentation at a national conference can be nerve-wracking, but remember that even here you still are the expert on your research, and you can (and will) hold your own among your colleagues!
If you get the chance to give an oral presentation during a conference symposium, it is a great opportunity and you should not pass it up! Speaking about your research in front of a room full of people can be a slightly terrifying prospect, but as long as you spend a good amount of time beforehand practicing your presentation, your presentation will go great! (Side note: I’ve been to some symposium and seen big names in my field who are fairly awful speakers-it doesn’t have to be the most amazing presentation in the world, but if you can express your enthusiasm for your work, people will be interested and it will be a fun experience!)
We can’t wait to see all of your work on display at the Fall Forum! Don’t forget, the forum is September 14, noon-3pm in the Thompson Library. Submit your abstract by August 3 at noon!
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