In December 2018, AGU welcomed Earth and space scientists from across the globe to Washington, D.C., for its annual Fall Meeting. The hustle and bustle of more than 28,000 attendees filled the conference center with an atmosphere that was electric. The weeklong event is a wonderful opportunity for students to network, learn in an interactive environment, and gain valuable experience in presenting research to their peers. But what if you aren’t able to attend because of financial or scheduling reasons?
AGU’s twice-annual Virtual Poster Showcase (VPS), launched in 2015, enables students to participate in an online poster competition in which they present their research to peers and judges. VPS entrants build critical, career-boosting oral and written presentation skills and receive expert feedback on the clarity, thoroughness, and competence of their research. Prizes include complimentary AGU membership and Fall Meeting registration. All entrants receive a certificate of participation, earn citations for their abstract, and, most important, are added to the American Geosciences Institute’s GeoRef database.
Prudence Crawmer, a past VPS winner studying environmental studies and geography at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs, Colo., “encourages students to apply, because if you don’t have money for travel fees, this is a great way to present your project.” During the Fall 2018 session, Crawmer presented her research on collecting local magnetic anomalies using a crowdsourcing app called CrowdMag and credits VPS for making her less nervous about future presentations as she progresses in her academic and professional endeavors.
Amanda Gerotto is a Ph.D. student researching paleoceanography at the Oceanographic Institute at the University of São Paulo in Brazil and a winner at the Spring 2016 VPS. She most enjoyed the feedback that she received. “I learned a lot about myself,” said Gerotto. “Having recommendations [to incorporate into my research] from that is amazing.” Similarly, Rushana Karimova, a graduate student at York University in Toronto, Ont., Canada, studying carbon dioxide ice properties on Mars, presented her undergraduate thesis research during the Fall 2016 VPS. Her favorite part was getting to speak to so many peers and experts: “People asked me questions about my poster and my presentation, and it was really interesting to see what parts of my work they were more interested in.”
In a competitive field like the geosciences, presenting research in a succinct, online presentation is a unique experience that students can use to differentiate themselves. The VPS program shows that developing alternative means of inclusivity can offer crucial opportunities to geoscience students facing different situations. The future of VPS is bright, and AGU is eager to see the research that young Earth and space scientists will be bringing forth in upcoming showcases.
—Julia Jeanty ([email protected]), Talent Pool Intern, AGU; and Sharon Rauch, Career Services Coordinator, AGU