Symposia! AKA great, low stakes opportunities to get out of the office, share the results you have been trying to make sense of for months, and hear about the cool research being done by your peers (plus free food). I had the opportunity to go to a few symposia recently and thought I would share some of the cool research shared at these events.
At the end of March, UNC Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology (CEE) put on its 5th Annual Environment and Ecology Student Symposium. Graduate students and undergrads from UNC, Duke, and NC State gave talks and shared posters about anything from their PhD dissertation work to side projects they had done during the summer. CEE is an interdisciplinary program so the diversity of topics was impressive. Diamond Holloman, a 3rd year PhD student and president of the Graduate Environment and Ecology Association, shared her work using a community garden in Durham to investigate the idea of social vulnerability in urban areas. 4th year PhD student Kaylyn Gootman outlined an upcoming experiment she will be doing in UNC’s fluids lab looking at sedimentation in streams.
Diamond kicking off the event, Kaylyn showing stream cross sections
A few of my personal favorite marine science projects at the symposium were presented by undergraduate researchers. Aditya Shetty gave a talk about his work tracking point source contamination in seaweed in Florida and Caitlin Seyfried had a great poster on her work comparing two common methods used by researchers and agencies for measuring ghost crab burrow density. I am a big fan of experiments on the efficacy of field methods.
Presenting at symposiums and conferences is part of life as a graduate student. In fact, one of the first tips I got coming into grad school was to choose a good Power Point format early and use it for everything. Cutting down the time spent creating slides and posters can leave more time to practice presenting. There are many people far more qualified to give presentation advice, but in general best presenters at the CEE symposium simplified their topic, clearly communicated their results, told a couple jokes, and had a few masterfully crafted power point animations. If you’re interested in general info on symposia, conferences, and how to prepare for them check out these posts.