How to Present Your Research to Senators and House Members! CUR Posters on the Hill

Joe, the author, with a Posters on the Hill attendee.

In 2011, Joe Moloney, a senior at Bridgewater State University, was selected to present at The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Posters on the Hill event.  Here is what he wrote about the event:

Student Posters on the Hill presenters at a pre-presentation field trip to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, learning about the behind-the-scenes research conducted by staff scientists

“The Posters on the Hill event was the highlight of my undergraduate career. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend and present at four national conferences, but Posters on the Hill topped them all. It was very exciting but also intimidating to have the opportunity to present my research to members of Congress and the Senate. During the presentation, I had many different people, from national organizations to government agencies, show interest in my research. I realized that everyone in the room was as passionate as I am about undergraduate research, my undergraduate research! The support from each person in the audience made me feel as though all of my effort, from the research process to the application process, was absolutely worthwhile.

“The application process seemed overwhelming at first. Similar to most students, I was involved with clubs on top of my coursework while I was working on the application so I leaned on my mentors for help with the application. Once the initial application was finished, I looked forward to writing to my Senators and Representatives to discuss my work and undergraduate research in general. This all paid off when I had a meeting

Students get the opportunity to network with their peers along with the higher education community during the two days of Posters on the Hill events.

with my hometown Representative and one of my Senators in the nation’s capitol.
“If I could pass on one piece of advice for the applicants, I would urge them to focus on the importance of their research while applying. During my revision process, one of my mentors always asked me, “So what?”. That is to say, what does this all mean in the big picture? How is this research important to your field or your community? This became more evident during my poster presentation, when many professionals in the field asked me about policy implications and social impact. They were very interested in how the students’ research at Posters on the Hill could be applied to the field.”

Student presenter discusses the importance of her research with fellow student and Congressman Bob Inglis

It is increasingly important that the undergraduate research community works to ensure that those in the U.S. Congress who provide funding for research and education have a clear understanding of the programs they fund and why these programs are important. Undergraduate research must be among those programs that members of Congress understand if it is to continue to be supported.

Nothing more effectively demonstrates the value of undergraduate research than the words and stories of the student participants themselves. In the spring of 2013, CUR will host its 17th annual undergraduate poster session on Capitol Hill. This event will help members of Congress understand the importance of undergraduate research by talking directly with the students whom these programs impact.  This is a unique opportunity that CUR believes will have a positive impact on the future of federal funding for undergraduate research. We encourage undergraduates from both public and private predominantly undergraduate institutions, research universities, and those who have done their work at a national laboratory or facility to submit abstracts.

If you have research to share, the application deadline is November 1, 2012.  Visit the CUR Posters on the Hill Page for more information. If you have additional questions, contact Robin Howard at robin@cur.org.

Our thanks to CUR’s Lindsay Currie for facilitating this article.

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