Jan 25, 2023
After spending countless hours in labs and writing sessions, and being inundated with research, it is good for students to explain their beloved research in layman's terms so people from non-technical backgrounds can understand the value of their work, too.
Tech’s Annual Career, Research, Innovation, and Development Conference (CRIDC) poster competition and exhibition provide students with the opportunity to practice and perfect their communication skills by presenting their research to non-technical audiences. CRIDC is also a professional development event designed to equip graduate students with the skillsets needed to thrive in the constantly evolving career market.
Read on to hear from two previous CRIDC Poster Competition winners as they reflect on their experiences in presenting their research at CRIDC and how their participation helped elevate their presentation and communication skills.
Sonia Bhattacharya is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate from the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Sonia has participated in CRIDC’s poster competition every year since 2019 (except for 2020). All her past research submissions were within the technical research category. Last year, Sonia shared her work on vaccine development that aids in the discovery of diagnostic reagents to detect SARS-COV-2 variants, through Georgia Tech’s lab collaboration with the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Last year, she won the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry Award.
Tania Evans is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Last year, Tania presented her research on energy-efficient gas separations and chemical processes, which, when applied in industry, would be useful to help manage energy use. Her research earned her the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research Award.
What made you participate in last year’s CRIDC Poster Competition?
Sonia: "I have been interested in public health, and I realized that along with enjoying the intellectual challenges of my research, I wanted to improve communicating my science with the general audience. I found that CRIDC provided a great platform to do just that!"
Tania: "I really like presenting my research. The motivation behind my research isn’t obvious to people who don’t typically work in my field. CRIDC was a good opportunity to present my research to people outside of my field. It was a lot less pressure and more fun to present to a general audience for a change."
On preparing your presentation:
Sonia: “I spent lots of time in the Finn Lab prepping. I prepared my poster in small increments over a two-week span, prior to last year’s competition. It is an amusing realization, every time, that it seems relatively easy to fill up the poster space. But it is challenging to fill up the poster space well, with the right amount of information.”
When asked about reaching out to advisors, professors, and peers for help or assistance, Sonia replied that she “definitely ran various versions of her poster through lab mates for a ‘sanity check.’ ”
Tania: “It took me a couple of hours to make my poster, but that is because I’ve had five years’ worth of data to pull from to make understanding my research easy to a non-technical person. I made figures that I felt were more easily digestible to non-engineers and presented the infographics I created with my lab mates.”
On the overall CRIDC Competition experience:
Sonia: “It was very engaging to interact with fellow Ph.D. students while sharing our research. CRIDC provides a great platform to uncover the variety and depth of research performed here at Tech. For every year that I presented (in the competition), I learned more and improved more.”
Tania: “I participated in the career fair and attended a few of the panels held last year. I found the panels interesting and inspiring in continuing my research. It was a great opportunity to practice communicating your research and to learn more about other research that is being done within the Georgia Tech community.”
Reflections after winning the poster competition:
Sonia: “I was very excited to win travel awards in 2021 and 2022. The travel awards were tremendously helpful, which helped cover the cost for me to attend the 2022 Keystone Conference on Progress in Vaccine Development Against Infectious Diseases, which was held in Colorado.”
Tania: “Since winning the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research Award, I was able to attend the International Conference on the Fundamentals of Adsorption (FOA), which is a leading conference in my field of study. I plan to participate in other poster competitions, as well.”
Every year, CRIDC Poster Competition winners receive travel grants, ranging in value from $1,000-$2,000, that can be used to cover expenses related to research trips or travel to other conferences.
Advice to first-time competitors:
Tania: “Talk about your research to your non-academic friends often. Talk to your parents. My parents could give a few sentences of a short synopsis of my research because I talk about my research so much.”
This year, CRIDC takes place on Friday, February 8, 2024, in the Exhibition Hall, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. This conference includes a virtual poster competition and an in-person competition, as well as a networking luncheon, and several career panel sessions. Event registration begins at 8 a.m. This free event is intended for Georgia Tech graduate students but is open to the entire GT community. Registration to participate in the poster competition ends on Friday, January 12, 2024. For more information, visit https://grad.gatech.edu/cridc.