Durham’s Post-Graduate Student Poster Competition

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A digested version of my own personal reflection

Mika Laiho – 5 May 2016

Toward the end of slogging out your PhD, the opportunity to present a poster about your research at an academic conference is not something most would do. Why? Because amidst the hubbub of most academic conferences, people you wish to engage do not necessarily have the time to take a look at the poster session because they are doing more ‘important’ things like preparing their own oral presentations or networking. Weighed up against the possibility of having less ‘impact,’ spending more money and potentially more time designing, writing, editing and printing the poster may seem unappealing to many post-graduate students.

However, last Thursday afternoon, at Claypath Public Library, I explained the significance of my research to members of the public, mingled with postgrads from other departments ranging from Physics to Education, and gave Sir Thomas Allen an overview of Arctic carbon geographies. This event was completely different to academic endeavours and my poster became more than just a costly fad. I may not have won anything, but I felt like me and my poster were alive, my research was ‘out there,’ and my time was well spent giving something back to the local community.


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Top Left: Mika Laiho, Department of Geography and Durham Energy Institute, presenting poster about imaginary Arctic spaces to the Chancellor; Top Right: Group Photo; Bottom: Lucy Szablewska, Department of Geography, with poster about Polish workers and carers in the background.

Personally, the experience was hugely beneficial to me in terms of explaining my research to non-geographers, although some input from Professor Peter Atkins was much appreciated. From the perspective of learning about others’s work, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to hear more about different projects, perspectives on the world, and it was fantastic witnessing the genuine willingness to engage with a broader audience outside of our personal ‘silos.’ Also, learning how others present research in an accessible way is an important lifetime skill, which is why I would recommend taking part in the event if or when it happens again.

The winners of the poster competition were:

The Best Poster – Faculty of Social Sciences:

Alice Amber Keegan – Dept of Anthropology: How can we make co-sleeping safer for all babies?

 The Best Poster – Faculty of Science

Aisha Bismillah – Dept of Chemistry: Shapeshifting Molecules as Chemical Sensors

 Best Overall Poster as Voted by Judges:

Hannah Bolt – Dept of Chemistry: Developing Peptide-Mimetics for the Treatment of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

 Best Overall Poster voted by Entrants and Visitors

Hannah Bolt – Dept of Chemistry: Developing Peptide-Mimetics for the Treatment of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

Best Online Poster as Voted by Judges:

Andrea Darling, School of Applied Social Sciences:

Women don’t do that, do they? Child sexual abuse by women who work with children

The competition was judged by Dr Simon Goon, Managing Director of Business Durham, Steve Kirk, senior teaching fellow and director of the English Language Centre’s summer Pre-Sessional programmes in academic language and literacy skills, Dr Eleanor Loughlin, Student Study Skills co-ordinator for Durham University, Dr Malcolm Murray, e-Learning Manager at Durham University, and Dr Sam Nolan, Assistant Director of the Centre for Academic, Researcher & Organisation Development & Honorary Fellow in the School of Education at Durham University.

If you would like to know more information about the PG poster competition, please contact Christine Bohlander: christine.bohlander@durham.ac.uk.