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Posters showcase student research - The Metropolitan

In Our December, 2017 Issue:

Posters showcase student research


Metropolitan State hosted a student poster conference on Thursday, Nov. 30 on the St. Paul campus. The event was sponsored by the Office of the President.

Undergraduate and graduate students shared their research projects on large posters. Students stood near their posters to explain their research and answer questions from conference attendees.

Condensing a research paper down to a poster is common in psychology and other academic disciplines, said Dr. Alex Layne, conference organizer and assistant professor in Communication, Writing and the Arts. “If you want to go to grad school, this is essential. As a grad student you will attend and present at conferences. Being able to articulate your research and the value of your work is a key skill,” she said.

Layne helped bring the first student research conference to Metro State in spring 2016 because she had the “invaluable” experience of participating in a conference as an undergraduate. “I was studying rhetoric. My dad got to see me present and he finally understood what I was researching,” she said. The experience propelled her to pursue her graduate degrees.

To present at the conference, students first submitted 250-word abstracts describing the nature and impact of their research. There was no cost for students to participate. Printing of posters was supported by the Psychology Lab.

Layne doesn’t want students to be intimidated by the process. “We can give you a poster template, show you where to put your research methods, your findings,” she said.

Graduate student Scott Lindell [also Associate Editor of The Metropolitan] found it a streamlined process going from paper to poster. He presented a research project on advances in the car wash industry with classmates Jordan Malay and David Stallworth for MIS 671, Problem Formulation and Data Presentation.

“We had to condense 35 pages down, but it went pretty quick as we wrote the paper and created the images first. We asked ourselves: what stays and what goes? What’s nice about a poster is it gives the viewer an instant understanding,” Lindell said.

Cynthia Yoder, biology and environmental science major, conducted her research on leeches as part of BIOL 489, Senior Research in Biology.

“I had not done a poster before. I had presented before. I loved doing the research, but on the poster I was absolutely lost. My professor [Cynthia Harley] was a huge help,” she said.

Psychology major Abdirisak Jama was inspired to study the adolescent brain in his Cognitive Psychology class. “Adolescence is a very challenging stage of learning and life. When you’re a teen, it’s hard to control your mind and emotions. Your attention is divided,” Jama said, pointing to an image on his poster of a high school student with a cell phone hidden behind his textbook. After graduating next year, Jama hopes to find work in the field of autism research. He wants to help people with that diagnosis, including his own young son.

In her PSYC 312, Research Methods class this fall, psychology major Osob Ali investigated stressors in first and second generation Somali immigrants. “Originally I had something bigger in mind for my project, but my professor advised me to focus on something I could complete in a semester,” she said.

Psychology major Osob Ali shares her research on signs of stress in first and second generation Somali-Americans at the Student Poster Conference on Nov. 30 in the Library and Learning Center on the St. Paul campus.

“Making a poster about my research and presenting it was a very interesting process,” Ali said. “It helped me focus on and share what was most important. I just didn’t expect so many people to be here!”

Layne said the committee hopes that attendance and participation in the student research conference will continue to grow. She noted the presence and support of the university president, provost and union president at the event. “A lot of universities have ‘research days’ with judging and prizes. I think we could do that. Tonight shows that interest in student conferences is high,” she said.

“Too often, students do amazing work in the classroom, and it just stays in the classroom. We want them to be able to show it off to their families and the whole university,” said Layne.

A full conference for student research projects, including creative works, is planned for Saturday, April 21, 2018 on the St. Paul campus.