RISE-ing to the occasion at the Research Innovation and Scholarship Expo

On Thursday, I presented my research in poster form at the annual Northeastern Research Innovation and Scholarship Expo (RISE). After doing an oral presentation at Benthics (the conference that Kylla and Liz blogged about) presenting a poster was pretty fun and relaxing. Usually it’s a one on one interaction and you can explain your research in a more casual way than in an oral presentation. Also, it’s less commitment for someone to come ask you about your poster, than to attend an oral presentation, so you often get visitors to your poster who aren’t necessarily experts in your field of research. This is cool for two reasons: 1) you get to enlighten someone about a subject they might have previously known nothing about (stay tuned for fun story about this perk later), 2) you can get fresh insight about your project from someone who hasn’t already tired their brain out thinking it.

The expo was packed with graduate students, undergrads and even faculty and staff presenting research from all the diverse departments at Northeastern. Fellow bloggers Lara and Dan presented posters, as well as several other MSC students and many, many College of Science students.Judges circled around the many posters, stopping to hear the presenter’s “pitch”, a short 3-5 minute synopsis of your poster. This took a bit of preparation on my part: I could talk about my research forever! So 3-5 minutes was a challenge. Luckily, all the judges were very friendly. In fact, learning about my research brought back memories of SCUBA diving here at the MSC on Canoe Beach for one judge, and inspired a story of seasonal fluctuations creating algal blooms in a backyard pond for another.

In addition to the official judges, everyone attending was a judge, in some respect. All presenters and attendees of the expo received 3 research dollars to be distributed to whoever they thought had the best research idea that deserves additional funding. Whoever collected the most research dollars by the end of the expo won the “People’s Choice Award” and received actual dollars to fund their research.

The winner of the people’s choice award was a group of undergraduates who have designed a personal fitness tracking device that sends physiological information right to your smart phone/computer. My favorite part is the name: SQUID. Check it out in the video below:

The research dollars bring me back to my experience of enlightening others about things unfamiliar to them. One visitor of my poster warned me that she had no knowledge of seaweed or coastal nutrient cycling, but she just stopped by because my poster looked cool. I did my best to explain things slowly and when I was done she said she really understood despite lacking previous background in the subject. She wandered off to look at other posters, but before leaving she stopped by mine again, to give me some research dollars and thank me for “introducing her to the wonderful world of snails and seaweed!” While I didn’t win the people’s choice award, inspiring that type of excitement about research was enough to make my presentation at the expo a success! 

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