Magazine article American Scientist

Student Research Showcase Returns in March

Magazine article American Scientist

Student Research Showcase Returns in March

Article excerpt

Graduate, undergraduate, and high school students are invited to submit a research presentation to Sigma Xi's Student Research Showcase. In this online contest, a presentation consists of a website that has a research abstract, a slideshow for an audience familiar with the student's general field of research, and a video for a general audience. Judges view the web pages and ask presenters questions in the comments sectims. In the process, students develop science communication skills and gain valuable feedback on their projects.

The showcase returns March 28-April 3, 2016. Last year's graduate division top presenter Luka Negoita and undergraduate division top presenter Weelic Chong shared their experience and advice for this year's participants. Below are excerpts from that conversation.

What motivated you to participate in this contest?

Negoita: I'm really excited about trying to bridge the gap between the scientific community and a broader audience so that in and of itself was a big pull for me. The other thing is I often find it pretty hard to explain my research to a broader audience, and I wanted to get better at that. I also thought it would help me improve the research because I was presenting on a project that I hadn't completed yet. I thought that having to explain it to a broader audience and have that discussion with a scientific and general community would help me better understand some of the aspects of the research that I was still developing.

Chong: I joined the competition to push myself further in presenting my research. I had the year to do my project because it's undergraduate thesis research, so it's a really compact schedule.

I spent most of my undergrad trying to bridge the science and nonscience divide [at my school], so this video is a natural extension of that. It's very interesting to see how people respond to the video. They say, "OK, now I learned something new about your research on Parkinson's disease," and it makes me happy that people are interested in stuff like that.

What do you remember about the judging period?

Negoita: It felt like I was at a conference with an oral presentation, but the number of comments was way greater than any physical conference I've ever been to-more details, very much of a discussion. …

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