We asked Bettina Bair, co-chair of the GHC Poster Committee, to explain what the Poster Session is and what's in it for you. Here's what she wrote. — bj
When I first started attending professional conferences, I had no idea what a "poster session" was. I visualized some sort of Woodstock-esque gathering, with people sitting on the floor of a blacklight lit room, wallpapered with posters that espoused "Peace, Love & Computers". Okay, that was a little scary. And, it turns out, really really wrong.
Now I know that the poster session is just about the best activity at any conference. And the poster session at the Grace Hopper Celebration is better than most, and I'm not just saying that because I've been the GHC Planning Committee Poster co-Chair twice. At the GHC poster session there might be 70 to 100 research posters, all tacked up on screens. Each poster will have one or two friendly and knowledgeable presenters on hand to explain the findings. The poster session at GHC is also a welcome reception, so there is a lot of time for meeting and chatting. Don't forget to enjoy the hors d'oeuvres, and beverages (cash bar).
1) Research Posters are a great way to quickly skim research and get an overview of what's new in your field. A research poster is usually about a new issue or concern -- usually with some preliminary insights. Most posters are prepared by grad students, but undergrads, faculty and industry professionals present posters too.
2) The Poster Session makes it easy to find others with similar interests. After skimming through all of the posters, I usually have two or three that I want to look at more carefully. When I get back, if I see other people at the same poster, its a perfect time for me to open a discussion with them, "Isn't this interesting? Are you doing anything similar at your institution?". Make sure to exchange cards with them.
... oh my gosh, this would be a perfect time to get CONNECTed. Find a scanner and get linked up in the database. Read more: gracehopper.org/2009/community/connect
3) If you are an undergraduate student, the poster session is a good time to shop for grad schools. Wander around and see what schools are doing research that is interesting to you. Talk to the student presenting the poster and ask her about her school and professors. Make sure that you take some notes and get her name, because these details look good in a grad school application letter.
Another thing that you can do, is look for the posters being presented by other undergrads. This year there are about thirteen undergrad posters. Think about proposing a poster yourself next year.
4) If you are a graduate student, you may already be presenting in the poster session. It's good practice, and you will meet others who are doing related work. If you are not presenting a poster this year, then use your time to plan a poster for next year.
5) If you are a faculty member, you may be looking for students that will be ready to apply for faculty positions with your college soon. Or you might be interested in seeing what other institutions are doing. Or you might be supporting your own students who are presenting posters.
6) If you are an industry professional [note from bj: or a sponsor!], this is a recruiting opportunity for you too. The undergrads that propose and present a research paper are clever, motivated and friendly. They'd make great employees, wouldn't they?
The Opening Reception & SRC Poster Competition and General Poster Session will be on Wednesday, September 30th from 7pm to 9pm. The reception is informal and unstructured. Come early and stay late -- or vice versa. It's all good.
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