Graduate students recognized for creative and scholarly work


SUMMARY: Graduate student scholars from across campus gathered to share their research and creativity with a broader, cross-disciplinary audience.

By Alyse Lehrke, Strategic Leadership PhD student

The annual Graduate Showcase of Scholarship and Creative Activities is a celebration of the outstanding work that graduate students do all year long. On April 19, student scholars from across campus gathered to share their research and creativity with a broader, cross-disciplinary audience. Dean Jie Chen explained, “The Graduate Showcase is an important professional development opportunity that prepares graduate students for future work in their fields while also illuminating the way these projects are advancing knowledge and solving real-world problems.”

The Showcase started with two panel sessions where participants presented their papers followed by question and answer time. This format follows the style of a typical professional conference session, making it an ideal venue for practicing presentation skills and inviting feedback from an engaged audience. Winner of the Best Presentation Award, Beth Perkins, a graduate student in the Assessment and Measurement program, offered this advice, “Show your presentation to advisors and other students to get feedback and advice on improvement. Practice, practice, practice!” Several of this year’s presenters honed their presentation skills before the Showcase by attending a workshop offered by Dr. Paul Mabrey, a JMU alum and Communication Center Coordinator.

In the afternoon poster session, attendees had the opportunity to peruse the project displays and chat with the graduate students presenting their work. Creating a poster presentation is a challenging process, as graduate Biology student, Emily Murray, noted, “It is difficult to be concise in a poster presentation and to decide what important outcomes to put on the poster.” Another challenge is developing the ability to present technical information in language that appeals to a lay audience. Yet, developing these skills is vital to success. Reflecting on the experience of presenting a poster, Strategic Leadership student Andrew Miller said, “[The Showcase is] really helpful in learning to communicate the research conducted. It is important to share research more broadly to impact others.” Graduate students work on research and creative projects to make a difference in their disciplines and communities, which only happens when these endeavors are shared with others.

The awards reception honors graduate students for a range of achievements including Outstanding Thesis Awards and recognition for innovation, community engagement, and civic engagement. Plus, the top presentation and top posters receive special acknowledgement. At this year’s event, both President Jonathan Alger and Provost Heather Coltman stressed the importance of graduate education at the university and praised the impressive streams of research from JMU’s graduate students that are adding to a deeper understanding on various topics and issues.

The event organizer, Interim Associate Dean Michael Klein, summarized the significance of the Graduate Showcase this way, “While graduate studies are, by necessity, more focused and disciplinary specific than undergraduate education, graduate students can benefit from exposure to new ideas or to familiar ideas examined in an unfamiliar way. The Showcase provides our graduate students the chance to interact with students and faculty outside of their discipline. While at first this might appear daunting, the opportunity to discuss their work with other scholars outside of their discipline facilitates them clearly articulating their research agenda and scholarly goals.” Each participant’s perspective is enriched by the diversity of disciplines and ideas that intersect at the Showcase. Through practice and engaging interactions, graduate students gain presentation skills, meaningful feedback, and the opportunity to see their own work with fresh eyes.

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Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Last Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020

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