Western Washington University hosted a Poster Session showcase event on May 17, one of the main attractions for Scholars Week, an annual celebration of the academic excellence of students.
Held in Sam Carver Gymnasium, the showcase was an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students from all departments to present their research condensed into a poster format.
This year, the session had nearly 160 different posters registered, including 33 posters from graduate students. Posters could be individual projects or group research.
“It's good experience for students to learn how to talk to other people about what they do,” said Rebecca Mclean, program manager at Western. “It's especially important to learn how to articulate [research] to someone from a different background.”
The event emphasized scholarly work in any department, not just STEM fields.
Riley McKibbin, a fourth-year Western student presented a post titled “Girl Power in Photographs.”
“Especially as a communication studies student, I feel that a lot of people don't know what we do,” McKibbin said.“To see this next to a fine arts poster across from a chemistry department poster – it's a really neat way to see all of us coming together and showing what we do really well.”
By attending and viewing other posters, students can gain perspective on their own research.
“We can kind of synthesize ideas cross-disciplinary and get inspiration,” said Benjamin Haagen, a Western graduate student presenting research on how genetics reflect trait variation.
In the past, only students who had been nominated by a faculty member could present their work. Now, interested students could participate even if they had not been selected.
This year, the planning committee worked with the Career Services Center to invite employers to attend and scout potential candidates.
“It's like a free opportunity to do an interview,” said Chauncey Gummere, a fourth-year Western student and Scholars Week public relations specialist on the planning committee.
In an effort to encourage new students to attend the Poster Session, the committee introduced the People’s Choice Award. Anyone who attended the event had the opportunity to vote on their favorite poster.
However, organizers were concerned that the vote might not truly reflect the best research.
“That is something that we will definitely be looking at after we collect all those [votes] and see if we can determine if we feel it was a fair vote or not,” Gummere said. “We definitely want people to feel like their work is being noticed, and it wasn't just who was able to bring enough friends.”
Above all, the planning committee hopes the event provided an opportunity for everyone, even freshmen and sophomores, to present their research.
“No matter where you think you are academically, you've done something worthy of being shown off – and this week is for those people,” Gummere said.
Ava Glaspell (she/her) is a campus news reporter for The Front this quarter. She is a first year journalism/news ed major. Outside of reporting, Ava enjoys climbing, eating ice cream, and jumping into the ocean. You can reach her at email@example.com.