Written by Marta Wicke, WE Local Advisory Board Member, as told by Riannon, Collegiate Finalist
In its third year, the WE Local Collegiate Competition is providing undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to present their research to a broad technical audience in four styles:
- A short form online abstract submission
- A visual poster presentation,
- A 15-minute lightning talk presentation, and
- A face-to-face discussion.
Each style providing students the opportunity to learn and receive instant feedback and encouragement from others within the STEM field.
Riannon Smith is a Biological Engineering student at Utah State University, and finalist of the 2018 WE Local Portland Undergraduate Collegiate Competition. Riannon’s research was “Transplanting a Bacterial Immune System: Design, Construction, and Expression of a Multi-Subunit Type IV CRISPR System.”
We asked Riannon to share her experience as a 2018 Collegiate finalist.
SWE: What was the most memorable part of participating in the Collegiate Competition at WE Local?
Riannon: The lightning talk. I was nervous about participating in the lightning talk portion because I had never done one before. However, at the start of my talk, I remember seeing all of the officers from my section – Utah State University SWE Section– had come to support me. And it quickly helped me get past those nerves.
SWE: How did the Collegiate Competition help you with your career/education?
Riannon: The Collegiate Competition was an excellent opportunity to present my research to people who may not have the experience in the research area like those groups I have presented to in the past. In turn, this helped me become a better presenter for a wide range of audiences. This is going to help me with the presentations I will have to do in graduate school.
SWE: How did you benefit from giving the Lightning Talk?
Riannon: I had never presented my abstract without my research partner nor done a lightning talk, so it taught me how to cover my research in a short amount of time and also convey my results in a quickly understood way.
SWE: How about the poster portion?
Riannon: Several people who came to see my poster did not have as much knowledge of the technical side of my research, but knew about CRISPR, so it was interesting to focus on where the research could go in the future.
SWE: As a finalist, how did this impact your network during and post-conference?
Riannon: I was able to expand my network with not only fellow undergraduate competitors, but I was able to speak to graduate competitors. With the undergraduate competitors, I learned more about their research topics and interests, and with the graduate competitors, I was able to seek their advice on applying, choosing and attending a graduate school.
SWE: What was your favorite part of participating in the Collegiate Competition and attending WE Local?
Riannon: I always enjoy speaking to students from other sections. I like learning what research is happening at other institutions and learning what other sections are doing for outreach, professional development and social activities.
I would recommend fellow collegiates participate in the WE Local Collegiate Competition because it is a great opportunity to present your research in two different ways and to a variety of audiences.
WE Local is now accepting online abstract submissions for the 2019 WE Local Collegiate Competition season. Note: All Collegiate Competitions take place in North American only. If you are interested in competing, learn more about the program here and submit your abstract by Friday, October 26, 2018.