Grad student research focus of symposium

The Graduate Student Research Symposium, now in its ninth year, provides graduate students an opportunity to present their research to a broad and diverse audience, while helping them develop their communication skills by requiring them to present their material in a way that is accessible to a general audience.

The symposium will be held April 2-3 in Whitaker Hall and is open to all members of the University community.

Developed in 1996 by the Graduate Student Senate in partnership with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the event aims to enhance the professional development of graduate students. The first symposium had 19 presenters in three categories. Last year, 64 participants presented work in five categories.

“We’ve really expanded the size of the research symposium over the past few years by adding a ‘Professional’ category in 2001 and an ‘Engineering’ category in 2003,” said Scott Hendrickson, chair of the publicity committee and doctoral student in political science in Arts & Sciences. “I also think the students have found their experience in the symposium so rewarding that they have encouraged other students to participate.”

This year’s event will be held in two parts: a welcoming reception April 2 and the poster presentations April 3.

“While we understand that being able to communicate to experts in one’s field is important, we want students to realize that being able to explain their work to a nonexpert is just as important,” Hendrickson said. “For example, this skill can be invaluable when interviewing for a nonacademic position in which a student might have to meet with a human resources person who is not familiar with their research.

“This skill can also be invaluable when interviewing for an academic position in which the student must interview with persons outside of the academic department in which he or she would eventually work.”

At the symposium, students will use a poster format to highlight their work and also provide a 5-10 minute verbal summary of their material. Posters often include graphics and photographs, and many students have also begun to use computer displays or audio/visual materials to supplement their posters.

The presentations are then judged by members of the University community, who award three cash prizes in each of five categories — humanities, engineering, professional degree programs, sciences and social sciences — based on the student’s ability to present the work to a broad audience.

This year, through support from the Sesquicentennial Commission, a prize will also be awarded in the special Sesquicentennial category.

The Sesquicentennial poster category is designed to highlight either the vast influence of research previously conducted at the University or by its alumni on today’s graduate student research, or the ways in which today’s graduate student research examines or relates to aspects of the local St. Louis community.

Students presenting in this category will be asked to demonstrate how their research relates to the University’s tradition of scholarship and community involvement.

The symposium provides a unique forum for interaction among students and faculty across the University, encouraging students to communicate with one another, share experiences and learn about research outside their area of academic interest.

The symposium is sponsored by the Graduate Student Senate of Arts & Sciences, the Graduate Professional Council, the Association of Graduate Engineering Students and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

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