here is my chemistry nerd get-up. Adorable!
After sitting through a great number of oral presentations and visiting a fair number of posters, I had to give some thought about what goes in to a successful presentation and, particularly, the quality of research presentations. Honestly, many times my qualms with presentations originate simply in the lack of content.
I have to say, attending large conferences makes me awfully proud of Elon University. The last two conferences that I have attended in the past month both featured a great number of schools – particularly the National American Chemical Society Meeting in San Diego, CA. At both though, it was painfully obvious that many undergraduates simply are not as involved in the research that they present – often having worked on the project only a handful of semesters at the direction of others in lab. The last thing I want to do is knock this type of large laboratory research experience, instead I want to highlight the new-found appreciation that I’ve gained through my exposure to research at other schools through conferences. Plenty of undergraduates do have claims to doing research, and even have traveled to large national conferences. After being in the highly competitive and nurturing Elon research environment, however, I can say that I feel much better equipped to tackle graduate school, pharmaceuticals, the world of research – anything. Through the Honors Fellows program and the Lumen Prize I have been able to propose my own research project, and participate in every step. From coming up with the idea behind the project, to the grant proposal, the experimentation, working through a plethora of research difficulties, frustrations and challenges, formal presentations, a lengthy thesis manuscript and (soon) writing and submitting a publication to a peer-reviewed journal – it’s been an incredible and (at the risk of mis-using the word) unique experience. The engaged learning advertised by Elon is not just a marketing strategy – it’s true. Even with the struggles of being financially independent and the hefty bill of private school tuition, I can say it’s been worth every penny. The reasons that made Elon my first choice university are more true than I ever realized in high school. To everyone who presented at Elon’s Student Undergraduate Research Forum today – congratulations! There is plenty of reason to pat yourselves on the back, if even for just a moment before diving back into homework.