In 2017, more than 200 students participated in the Virtual Poster Showcase (VPS), a program of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) that is designed to help students share research without traveling to an in-person conference. This program has been continually advancing in size and scope since it was created in 2013.
Four embellishments added to VPS in 2017 helped to scale up the program as well as to add value for the student participants and their faculty and research advisers.
- A year ago, two high school instructors helped pilot the participation of 21 groups of high school juniors and seniors in VPS. Some of these students stated that they expected the experience to strengthen their college applications.
- A university instructor incorporated VPS into the curriculum of her spring graduate course in science communication. This meant that all aspects of the VPS process (abstract submission, poster creation, a video presentation of the student’s project, participation in a peer evaluation component, and responses to feedback from professionals serving as judges) were considered for the students’ final grades in the course.
- As part of a partnership between AGU and the American Geosciences Institute, all 447 VPS abstracts from 2015 onward are now available and searchable within GeoRef, the world’s largest database of geoscience abstracts.
- A geographic information system (GIS) map of all VPS participants, their abstracts, and the location of each lead author’s institution has been created to share the abstracts with the entire Earth and space science community. This GIS visualization is a project between University of Texas at El Paso professor Raed Aldouri and his GIS class. The link will be publicized in the coming weeks after all the 2017 abstracts have been added to the GIS.
In 2017, VPS offered spring and fall showcases that have continued to draw students from around the globe. For the third year in a row, the fall showcase attracted U.S. undergraduate students who had completed summer research programs known as Research Experience for Undergraduates (REUs). The National Science Foundation funds those programs nationwide.
VPS is not just for those in the United States or just for undergraduate students. Nearly half of the participants in VPS’s 2017 events were graduate students from around the world. Overall, VPS’s non-U.S. participants in 2017 came from 15 countries and five continents.
Building Student Confidence
Taking part in the Virtual Poster Showcase continues to increase students’ experience with preparing and presenting research. Nearly four out of five students in the 2017 showcases reported a boost in confidence in their poster preparation and presentation skills. Survey respondents also said that having a VPS abstract will ultimately help them in the next steps of their careers.
During the two VPS events in 2017, presentations featured a wide array of research that spanned many subdisciplines within the Earth and space sciences, from environmental degradation caused by zinc smelting to modeling solar wind parameters in the Martian atmosphere. The first-place winners of the spring and fall showcases are listed below. Information about other winners can be found on the Virtual Poster Showcase recognition page.
Spring 2017 winners:
- Graduate showcase: Babak Jalalzadeh Fard, Northeastern University, “Effective mitigation and adaptation strategies for public health impacts of heatwaves for Brookline, MA”
- Undergraduate showcase: Jacob Smith, Clemson University, “The effect of atmospheric CO2 on the chemical weathering of silicate minerals as measured by cation flux in the vadose zone”
- High school showcase: Hannah Kim, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, “The effect of disease resistance on the bacterial community of the fecal microbiome of Crassostrea virginica”
Fall 2017 winners:
- Graduate showcase: Ruadhan Magee, University of Queensland, Australia, “Magma dynamics recorded in clinopyroxene megacrysts: Investigating the destructive 1669 eruption of Mount Etna”
- Undergraduate showcase: Caitlin Hoeber, San Jose State University, “Spatial and temporal effects on diversity of Monterey Bay’s microbiome”
Each first-place winner of the graduate and undergraduate showcases will receive a travel grant to attend the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting in Washington, D. C., along with complimentary meeting registration.
Spring Showcase Open for Abstracts
The 2018 spring showcase is accepting abstracts until Tuesday, 13 March, 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. VPS offers an excellent means for students to share their research and get valuable feedback from their peers and professionals in the Earth and space sciences. Register and submit your abstracts today at http://vps.agu.org, or message [email protected] to learn more about how you can participate in future showcases.
To everyone who helped make VPS a continued success this past year, AGU’s Virtual Poster Showcase staff offers its heartfelt thanks. It is only through the generous volunteerism of professionals who sign up as VPS judges and through the VPS program’s collaborations with other professional societies and individuals within the scientific community that the VPS program can continue to strive toward AGU’s mission of advancing Earth and space science.
—Pranoti M. Asher (email: [email protected]), Manager, Higher Education, AGU; and Nathaniel Janick, Career Services Coordinator, AGU