One of my favorite annual events happened today: the annual Science Symposium on campus, part of the campus-wide Symposium of Research and Creativity. I love it for so many reasons, but mostly to see my students – dressed up in their good clothes – standing with their posters and talking about the research they performed during the past year. There’s a great energy and excitement about the event . . . to be honest, I don’t even mind the last minute flurry of crises that inevitably appear as we’re all trying to get our posters ready to be printed in time for the symposium.
I’ve been involved with this event in some way from its very first year, in 2013, when it was created as a way for students in the Science 120 course (a freshman year experience for students interested in STEM fields) to showcase the independent projects they’d completed during the Spring semester. Back then, they all gave oral presentations, and the poster session was relatively small. Since then, however, the event has shifted away from being focused on Science 120, and opened up to the entire campus. Today, one of the ballrooms was opened up as large as possible, and the room was FILLED with student posters. (My Science 120 students no longer do oral presentations at the event . . . they presented posters in the main hall. We’ll be hosting a separate presentation event for them on the last day of the semester).
This year, I had 8 groups of Science 120 students presenting posters (some of whom I worked with very closely), and I helped a student in my former lab (working with western pond turtles) put together a poster comparing some of my previous findings with data she’d collected over the past couple of years. Finally, along with two undergraduate students and one of my colleagues (and dear friend) Caroline Christian, we presented a poster of our own, about the restoration we’ve been doing on Copeland Creek this semester.
First things first: getting our poster set up before the start of the event. Here is “Copeland Creek Restoration: a Model for Creek Restoration on a University Campus.” Considering that the whole thing came together in less than 48 hours (the poster, haha; the restoration has been going on for months), I’m really pleased with the way it turned out:
Once things got underway, I left Jessi and Jana to hold down the fort, and I wandered through the posters. My intention was to stop by each of my students’ posters and get back to the Copeland Creek poster. It didn’t work out quite that way, though . . . I wasn’t able to just walk past all the other posters, as so many of them looked genuinely interesting. I did stop at a few, and had great conversations with presenters. In the end, however, I did get to most of the Science 120 posters. Here’s a round-up of some of their projects (their posters all look fantastic!):
I stopped by to visit with Chelsey, and to see the poster that she and I put together the night before the symposium:
Several other current and former students presented their research, as well (although I didn’t have a direct role in most of these projects):
Another thing that was fun for me today was running into lots of my current GE students. In particular, loads of Introduction to Biology students were on hand. Since I am usually teaching that class during the time of the symposium, instead of just cancelling class, I asked them to come to the symposium, and ask questions of a few of the presenters. They were able to get a few points of extra credit by hunting me down in the crowd, and I gave dinosaur stamps to a whole bunch of students – they mostly seemed to be enjoying themselves a lot, and engaging with the presenters.
About half way through, all four of the collaborators on our Copeland Creek project were finally able to get together to pose for a photo:
So much love for these marvelous ladies!!!!!!! And loads of love to all my students who did such a great job with their projects. I’m so proud of them. Definitely one of the best events of the year.