Presenting a Poster: The Do’s and Don’ts

Presenting a poster can sometimes be intimidating. Here at ACS, we want to ensure that your experience presenting a poster is both a fun and rewarding one. Therefore, we talked with Dr. Brent Znosko, Professor of Chemistry at Saint Louis University, about presenting undergraduate research, and he provided the following advice.

  1. Know your research: Although you may have done all of the bench work, do you understand the mechanisms and background of your research? If not, now is the time to dig into the literature and to seek help from your advisor to understand the reasoning behind each of your laboratory steps and the larger picture of your project.
  2. Prepare your elevator speech: A 60-second summary of what you did, why you did it, and your results.
  3. Practice, practice, practice: You should practice your “elevator speech” to yourself, lab mates, friends, and family. It can be helpful to present to people without a chemistry background. For example, a group of middle school students were touring our new science building, and their teacher asked me about my research. To explain my work with protein affinity tags, I talked about eating a bowl of Lucky Charms. Whenever you eat a bowl of Lucky Charms, all you really want are the marshmallows; this is analogous to my research because we want to pick out specific proteins from a mixture. Bazinga!The kids understood my research! Practice your elevator speech to others, and you will be prepared for whoever walks up to your poster.
  4. Designing your poster: The key to a great poster is a single, cohesive story summarizing your research project by showing the key results that support your conclusion and demonstrate the originality of your work. (See the February 2012 issue of )
  5. Dressing for success: Potential employers and graduate school recruiters come by the poster sessions, so you want to look professional and confident. For both men and women, I suggest going for solid colors for tops and black or blue for pants—a conservative and classic look.

For men, black pants/slacks, a button-down shirt (long sleeve), and a tie is ideal. Also, nice brown or black shoes are important—ditch the sneakers for today.

poster session

For women, the best combinations are black pants/skirt with a nice shirt (short sleeve or long sleeve) or a dress that is close to knee length. It’s important to wear nothing that is too clingy. You want your work to be on display, not your figure. Also, low heels (no taller than 3 inches) or flats are best. You will be standing up and walking all day.

  1. Print business cards: Now that you have practiced and look you the part, you should be prepared to share your contact information. You can get 250 cards custom printed at Staples for $6!

To make sure you’re ready to go, here’s an ACS National Meeting Poster Presenter checklist:

  • Notecards to practice your speech
  • Poster (seems obvious, but double check!)
  • Flash drive that contains a copy of your poster file
  • Printed materials (your poster number, confirmation, etc.)
  • Hotel and flight itineraries
  • Appropriate outfit
  • Business cards and a portfolio with copies of your resume
  • Pen and a notebook (who knows when inspiration could strike!)
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Submitting an Abstract for the ACS National Meeting

Stressed out about submitting your abstract for presentation at an ACS National Meeting? Unsure of how the process works and don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Hopefully you're not as stressed as our spongy friend...

Hopefully you’re not as stressed as our spongy friend…

Any time you plan on presenting at an ACS National Meeting, the first thing you should do is talk to your advisor or principal investigator (PI) about your project. They should be the best resource for what information to include in your abstract, who to cite, etc. And unless you are Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory and your lab is completely self-sustained, you need to give your advisor or PI credit for helping you with your project by including them as an author.

Once you’ve finalized your abstract, you can submit by using ACS’s Meeting Abstract Programming System (MAPS). More technical information on how to submit is included on our website, so here we’ll just cover some common sessions for undergrads presenting their research. All the symposia listed below are under the Division of Chemical Education (CHED). Although you may submit to other technical divisions as well, we recommend discussing with the program chairs before selecting a session within another division.

Undergraduate Research Poster Session

This is a large poster session for undergraduates to present their research on any discipline. When selecting your symposium in MAPS, select the name of this section followed by the type of chemistry that best describes your area of research.

Undergraduate Research Papers

This is an oral session for students to give a longer (10-minute) presentation on their research. Before selecting this session, we recommend that you receive the endorsement of your PI. There are limited slots available to give an oral presentation, so if you aren’t selected to participate then your abstract will be moved to the Undergraduate Research Poster Session.

Successful Student Chapters

Want to showcase your student chapter’s awesome activities? If so, this is the session for you! The Successful Student Chapters poster session is part of the larger Sci-Mix session and gives you a chance to create a poster and talk about all the great things your chapter is doing.

The deadline for submitting an abstract to one of the sessions above is March 28, 2016 by 11:59 EDT. If you have any questions, please let us know at undergrad@acs.org.

Links:

http://maps.acs.org

http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/students/college/acsmeetings/undergraduate_national_meetings/Submitting_Undergraduate_Abstracts.html

http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/meetings/abstract-submissions/acsnm252.html

 

 

It’s been fun, Boston!

Good morning, everyone!

This is Monica, one of the Undergraduate Student Liaisons for this National Meeting. You guys heard from Alex Saturday, but now it’s my turn to talk about my experiences at National Meeting.

This morning our hospitality center was filled with students eager to share breakfast with their peers. The hospitality center is always one of the best places to meet and chat with other students. I love to use this morning time to just relax and get ready for the day.

After a brief volunteer introduction, we all dispersed for our morning events. Some students went to the oral presentation sessions and some went to learn networking skills at ‘Networking Basics for Students’. I considered myself a great networker, but this session taught me so much about breaking the ice with potential professional connections and how to work on engage strangers.

The next event was the Eminent Scientist Luncheon and Lecture with John C. Warner President of Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry. The theme was “What’s in your chemical toolbox?” During the Lecture, and the amazing lunch that was provided, Dr. Warner spoke of the importance of Green Chemistry and innovating ways of sustainable solutions for the society. He made it quite clear that although things look different at a first glance, they can be incredibly similar at microscopic levels. He was so funny and personable. Even the convention center staff stopped what they were doing to listen to him speak!

Immediately following Dr. Warner’s lecture, I walked to Hall C for the Undergraduate Research Poster session. The exhibit hall was full of amazing research posters being presented by our very own Undergrads. The outcome of this event was remarkable. Some of these undergrad research posters look like they might be giving some of the graduate research posters a little run for their money! Without a doubt, our Undergrads are a force to be reckoned with. Congrats to every single one of you and your outstanding posters!

If you haven’t ever been to ‘Speed Networking with Chemistry Professionals’ you’re missing out! This is my favorite event of any National Meeting. Not only do you get to speak with professionals working in the field of chemistry, but you get to have one-on-one, candid discussions about their work and learn from their experience. These professionals are always so friendly. Their advice has really benefited me in my professional planning.

The Sci-mix / Successful Student Chapters poster session couldn’t have been a better way to say goodbye to Boston! As a liaison, I’m a little detached from the program, but going thru this session I am able to speak with the students. It’s great to learn what other chapters are doing. It helps me be a better leader for my chapter.

As we come to the finale of this phenomenal meeting, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer many thanks for the AWESOME student volunteers. We wouldn’t be able to run things as smoothly as we do without you. Our programs work because of your dedication and effort.

Goodbye for now. I’ll see you in San Diego!

Welcome to Boston!

This is Alex, one of the ACS Student Liaisons, and I am here to provide you with a recap of the first day of the Undergraduate Programming in Boston. Let me say the day was packed and filled with so many valuable workshops and sessions!

The day started off with a great panel discussion about Careers in Chemical informatics. The panel discussion gave great insight into what students can expect going into this career field. We gathered a lot of good information while enjoying some awesome food!

The graduate school reality checks were my favorite sessions of the day. It was packed! As someone getting ready to apply to graduate school, I learned a lot and will be able to bring that information back home. My nerves about applying have been settled a bit.

Getting undergrads and graduate students together is sometimes hard, but the hardworking staff at Undergrad Programs really knocked the graduate school networking event out-of-the-park! Everyone I spoke to really took advantage of the opportunity to talk with graduate recruiters and get some really good advice. No to mention we all got some really cool freebies- you can never have to many pens!

As the day came to a close, we had a great time building bridges between ACS International and Domestic Student Chapters. It was, really cool to see that other students, some who flew to Boston from almost 10,000 miles away, can enjoy everything that an ACS Student Chapter has to offer. I know the connections that I made today will be ones that I keep for a long time to come!

This is my last meeting at a Student Liaison with Undergrad Programs. This is a bittersweet goodbye for me. I can’t wait for graduation, but I will miss the friends that I’ve made while working National Meetings with ACS.

Are You Ready for Boston??

BostonWe’re coming to the end of July and that means two things; summer is nearly over and the ACS Fall National Meeting is right around the corner. ACS Fall National Meetings tend to be smaller than spring national meetings. So, instead of 15,000-20,000 chemists in one convention center, you only have 12,000-15,000. Okay… so, it’s still big, but we’re here to help!

This meeting will feature some very special guests. For the first time EVER, ACS International Student Chapters will send representatives from their schools. As if this isn’t exciting enough, the meeting is being held in Boston, one of the oldest and most interesting cities in the country.

With so much to see and do between now and the end of the meeting, how do you even know where to start? Here are some tips for making the most of your national meeting experience.

Preparations

By now, you should have made your travel plans. If you haven’t, go the national meeting website to register, find travel discounts, and locate a hotel room (the official ACS hotels are sold out, but information on alternatives is provided). But don’t bother renting a car. Boston traffic is legendary, and you can get around much easier by walking or using public transportation.

Get your suit cleaned and iron your khakis. ACS meetings are fun, but they are also professional conventions. You’ll need business attire for your presentation, business casual for the rest of the meeting, and whatever you feel like when you are done for the day. And leave the flip-flops at home. Invest in some good, comfortable leather shoes that look smart and can handle all the walking (on concrete) you are about to do.

Your presentation should be ready (still need tips?), so now is the time to practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the more confident you will sound, no matter how nervous you are. And remember to bring along some business cards.

Contingency plans

Now you’re probably thinking, “all these preparations are good, but if I get to Boston and a zombie apocalypse breaks out? Or worse—my poster gets smooshed?” Emergencies are tough enough to handle at home, much less in a strange city.

But we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to handle most emergencies at national meetings:

  •  Can’t find my room: go to the lobby and look for a friendly person in the bright yellow, “Ask Me” T-shirt. They are there specifically to help you navigate the technical program, find your room, and answer general questions.
  • Can’t find my hotel: use the hotel and shuttle map. You can also download the meeting app for all conference information. Or stop by Undergraduate Hospitality Center in room 205A of the convention center for directions, information, and possibly a muffin.
  • Presentation got lost/splattered/hit by a car: always have a back-up of your presentation or poster on a flash drive. If something happens, find an “Ask Me” person, an ACS operations office, or a hotel concierge to direct you to the nearest FedEx or other printing facility.
  • Medical emergency or crime: if you are seriously injured or sick (or suddenly become a crime statistic), call 911 and alert the hotel staff… in that order.
  • Fire, earthquake, zombie apocalypse: if some sort of catastrophe happens at the meeting, ACS staff and security personnel will tell you what to do, while everyone else takes pictures. Put down your camera/phone and follow their instructions. You’ll be safer for it, and the Wi-Fi will be too overloaded for your tweets, anyway.

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Get a tube or carrier for your poster, protect your computer, and remember you are in a city. Pay attention to your surroundings, travel with friends, and don’t flash anything expensive.

What to do?

Okay, you are all rehearsed, you’re looking sharp, and your arrangements are made. So what do you actually do in Boston?

Start with the Undergraduate Program Guide. It lists all of the national meeting programming that is set up specifically for students. There are chemistry talks, discussions with the international student chapters, grad school workshops, and opportunities to meet grad school recruiters and chemical professionals.

Want more technical talks? Search the technical program by topic, day, or your favorite chemist. Want to meet more people? Browse through the social events for the groups you are interested in. Entering the workforce… ever? Check out the career resources and register for the career fair. Need a break? Stop by the exposition for information, giveaways, and workshops from a variety of vendors.

And, if you need more of a break, check out the city. Boston is a fluid blend of historical landmarks and modern fun (unless you count the roads). For a brief respite, stop in Boston Common and watch—or ride—the swan boats. For a longer break, shop at Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market, visit the New England Aquarium, or tour Old Ironsides. If you have even more time, try following the Freedom Trail or taking a Duck Tour.

Also, have a donut. Dunkin’ Donuts was founded just south of Boston, so their shops proliferate the city. In fact, if you buy just one donut at each Dunkin’ Donuts you pass while in Boston… you’ll probably go broke on your first day.

See you there!

Boston, here we come!

With the 250th ACS National Meeting just around the corner, it’s time to properly prepare for presenting your research in Boston. Here are my six top tips for presenting at the National Meeting Poster Session:

  1. Know your research: Although you may have done all of the bench work, do you understand the mechanisms and background of your research? If not, now is the time to dig into the literature and to seek help from your advisor to understand the reasoning behind each of your laboratory steps and the larger picture of your project.
  2. Prepare your elevator speech:A 60 second summary of what you did, why you did it, and your results.
  3. Practice, practice, practice: You should practice your “elevator speech” to yourself, lab mates, friends, and family. It can be helpful to present to people without a chemistry background. For example, a group of middle school students were touring our new science building, and their teacher asked me about my research. To explain my work with protein affinity tags, I talked about eating a bowl of Lucky Charms. Whenever you eat a bowl of Lucky Charms, all you really want are the marshmallows; this is analogous to my research because we want to pick out specific proteins from a mixture. Bazinga! The kids understood my research! Practice your elevator speech to others, and you will be prepared for whoever walks up to your poster.
  4. Designing your poster: The key to a great poster is a single, cohesive story summarizing your research project by showing the key results that support your conclusion and demonstrate the originality of your work. (See the February 2012 issue of InChemistry magazine for more details).
  5. Dressing for success: Potential employers and graduate school recruiters come by the poster sessions, so you want to look professional and confident. For both men and women, I suggest going for solid colors for tops and black or blue for pants – a conservative and classic look.

For men: Black pants or slacks, a button-down shirt (long sleeve), and a tie is ideal. Also, nice brown or black shoes are important — ditch the sneakers for today.

For women: The best combinations are black pants or skirt with nice shirt (short sleeve or long sleeve) or a dress that is close to knee length with hose. It’s important to wear nothing that is too clingy. You want your work to be on display, not your figure. Also, low heels (no taller than 2 inches) or flats are best. You will be standing up and walking all day.

  1. Print business cards: Now that you have practiced and look you the part, you should be prepared to share your contact information. You can get 250 cards custom-printed at Staples for $6!

To make sure you’re ready to go, here’s an ACS National Meeting Poster Presenter checklist:

  • Notecards to practice your speech
  • Poster (seems obvious, but double check!)
  • Flash drive (with your poster on it)
  • Printed materials (your poster number, confirmation, etc.)
  • Hotel and flight itineraries
  • Nice outfit
  • Business cards and a portfolio with copies of your resume
  • Pen and a notebook (who knows when inspiration could strike!)
  • Camera
  • THUMBTACKS! This is the most forgotten item.

For more details, check out Dr. Brent Znosko’s webinar.

 

Until Next Time, Denver

IMG_0417Another ACS National Meeting has come to an end, and we have to say, it was a really successful meeting! This is Alex and Monica—the ACS Student Liaisons—and we’re here to provide a final recap of our experience at the 249th National Meeting in Denver, CO.

The first day of the Undergraduate Program was on Sunday, March 22. We knew going into the meeting that there would be a lot going on that day, but we were completely blown away by how incredible the program was! In the morning, we led the volunteer orientation and moved directly into “Making the Most of Your First National Meeting.” This workshop is one of the most valuable tools to help you schedule your time at the National Meeting. Throughout the rest of the day, we received valuable advice about planning for grad school and what to do when you get there, professional development opportunities, and how to balance life and career.

IMG_0454Although we were a little tired by the end of the day, we were also really excited about the Student Chapter Awards Ceremony and the Undergraduate Social. The Awards Ceremony brings together all student chapters that won awards in the previous year. During the ceremony we heard from the new ACS Executive Director and CEO, Tom Connelly, as well as various members of SOCED (Society Committee on Education), ACS President Diane Grob Schmidt, and ACS President-Elect Donna Nelson. The night ended with lots of food and dancing at the Undergrad Social. We had so much fun spending time with our new friends!

Both Monday and Tuesday were also great days. We heard lectures from some incredible scientists working in the field of green chemistry. We especially enjoyed Dr. Henry Kholbrand’s lecture on industrial sustainability and climate change. His years working for Dow Chemical have helped to broaden his perspective of sustainability in both developed and developing nations. Our favorite session was “Toxicology of Marijuana.” This was probably the best attended workshop of the Undergraduate Program, in which we learned how marijuana affects your blood and brain chemistry. It was truly fascinating!

There are so many exciting things to see and do at the National Meeting that you’ve just got to experience it for yourself. The program not only helps you meet students from around the country, but it also provides a rare opportunity to meet chemistry professionals, broaden your understanding of our field, and hone your networking skills.

We hope to see you in August for another great Undergraduate Program in Boston!