DATE: May 2, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Dr. Nirmala Gunapala, NMSU Library, (575) 646-5551, firstname.lastname@example.org
The NMSU Library celebrated the completion of the first stage of the project Visualizing Science: Preparing and Delivering Effective Poster Presentations with an undergraduate student poster competition in Branson Library on Monday, April 28.
The project, which is supported by partners including the New Mexico Library Foundation and NMSU’s STEM Outreach Center, aims to provide students with training in the fundamental skill of scientific poster design and delivery. Dr. Nirmala Gunapala, NMSU Science Librarian, is the principal investigator.
Although communication skills are important to many fields, the ability to communicate orally along with visual aids is essential in STEM disciplines. Scientists and engineers are expected to present their research in a variety of settings, to clients, stakeholders, and to members of the public. Poster sessions are also considered as a vital component of scientific conferences.
In early April, twenty-seven NMSU undergraduates from a range of STEM disciplines participated in Library-organized workshops taught by Biology Professor Michele Shuster. The workshops provided students with hands-on experience in planning, organizing, designing, and presenting posters. Following the workshops, students received financial support to have their posters professionally printed.
Thirteen individuals or student groups who completed the workshops went on to compete in the Library’s poster competition, using their newly gained skills to highlight research they are conducting in campus laboratories.
The diversity of projects was notable, with contributions from chemistry and biochemistry, biology, chemical engineering, physics, and agriculture. Six faculty judges (Dr. Immo Hanson, Dr. Avis James, Dr. Patricia Lodato, Dr. Histoshi Tsujimoto, Professor Cindy Watkins, and Professor Paula Johnson) reviewed the posters and engaged student presenters on their research.
At the end, three poster presentations received top awards:
- Can botanical pesticides protect us from bedbugs? Presented by Maria Angelica Gonzales from Dr. Alvaro Romero’s lab (Agriculture)
- Revolutionizing flu vaccine production: the key to unlocking profit and accessibility. Presented by Joshua Alcala, Jere Freeh and Mary Harner from Dr. David Rockstraw’s lab (Chemical Engineering)
- The unending host-pathogen arms race: How mosquito RNA interference impacts dengue virus evolution. Presented by Vanessa Montaya from Dr. Kathy Hanley’s lab (Biology)
These students received gift cards from Barnes & Noble. All student presenters were commended by the judges for their efforts and were encouraged to continue developing their work for presentation at future campus or scholarly poster competitions.
“We are delighted with the success of today’s event,” said Professor Gunapala, “It is evident that student presenters have made great use of their training. They have created attractive and engaging poster presentations that really showcase their research activities.”
The second stage of the project will get underway in late summer. Working in partnership with the Las Cruces Public Schools, the Library will organize “train the trainer” workshops with Dr. Shuster to train teachers and librarians in poster presentation techniques so they are able to successfully work with middle and high school students on science fair projects.