Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's poster time!

While the rest of Team Marmot enjoys the wonders of springtime in the Rockies, I'm back at UCLA this year. However, it's been really fun because we've got a lab full of super undergraduates who I'm working with to help them develop scientific posters.

Science doesn't stop when you collect data and get an answer; it must be communicated. And, there are several ways to communicate. Writing journal articles are the most common way to communicate science, and this is the ultimate goal of a scientific study. However, along the way it's important to share findings at scientific meetings. And for this, we can give talks or present what are called posters.

Making a scientific poster is a mix of art and science. You want to be sure to get your main messages across but you want to do so in a simple, graphical way. I find the interplay between art and science really exciting. People will be walking around and you want to entice them in to talk with you about your findings. I learn a lot at poster sessions but ultimately I learn by listening to the person who developed the poster rather than standing and reading a poster.

At UCLA we have a big Science Poster Day, where many hundreds of undergraduates present their posters to the entire campus. Our department also has an Undergraduate Research Symposium. And, some of our students are going to a Southern California meeting later this week.

We've been devoting the last few weeks of lab meetings to collectively brainstorming ways to improve posters. And improve they have! I'm really impressed with Noelle, Kelsea, Taylor, and Yvonne's work and I'll be sure to take pictures of them at our Undergraduate Research Symposium next week! Until then...

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