2018 Grad Forum gives student researchers a chance to shine

2015 Grad Forum

If you can imagine a graduate student boiling down an entire thesis into a lightning-fast presentation with one PowerPoint slide, you’ll have an idea of what the popular Three Minute Thesis competition looks like.

It’s just one of many highlights of this year’s Grad Forum, an annual showcase of graduate student research presented by the Graduate School on Friday, May 11, in the Erb Memorial Union. Doors open at 9 a.m., with presentations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sara Hodges, interim dean of the Graduate School, compares the event to a track meet with multiple attractions unfolding at once.

“There’s variety, competition and people who dazzle you with their talent,” Hodges said. “It’s also an opportunity to learn firsthand about some new discovery from one of our grad students.”

The Three Minute Thesis is just one of three ways graduate students will present their ideas. Students will also participate in panel discussions and offer poster presentations. Money prizes will be awarded to the winners in the three competition areas and students can win up to $250 for giving the best presentation within a category.

Now in its ninth year, the Grad Forum continues to grow and adapt in ways that reflect new trends and ideas about how to best share research. This year’s event will bring a variety of research panels, covering everything from technology’s effect on modern conservation of wild animals and places to the ethical and political implications of modern surveillance technologies to neurological differences between human and animal perception.

Three Minute Thesis competitors will give talks on topics that range from an examination of the “#artselfie” and its effect on museum experience to an investigation of bizarre spore-forming parasites. Student poster topics include mentoring and academic persistence among black college students, urban heat and environmental justice in Eugene and the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction.

In addition to providing a venue for graduate students to share their research with fellow students, university faculty and staff members and members of the broader community, organizers say the Grad Forum serves as a vital professional development experience. It gives graduate students an opportunity to practice the important skill of communicating their research to an audience of nonspecialists. The event also provides graduate students with opportunities to make connections with researchers in other disciplines.

The first Graduate Student Research Forum was held in April 2010 in response to requests from graduate students for more opportunities for interdisciplinary intellectual exchange and networking.

“Nine years later, the UO Graduate School is still committed to providing this event for graduate students,” Hodges said.  “Some of these new ideas and findings by our students are going to change the world, and it’s exciting to hear about them right here where they originated.”

See the Grad Forum website for a full agenda and more event details.