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Kathryn Polkoff

Kathryn poses with her James Scholar certificate, bronze medallion, and honor cord from graduation.
Kathryn poses with her James Scholar certificate, bronze medallion, and honor cord from graduation.
  • Major: Animal Sciences
  • Graduated: May 2016
  • Hobbies: Photography, Reading, Writing
  • Occupation: Graduate Student

Presenting a Poster at a Research Conference

Hey everyone! This is Kathryn Polkoff. I am currently a first year master’s student in Animal Science in Dr. Wheeler’s lab. For my undergrad, I also majored in Animal Science with James Scholar credit at the U of I. I’m here to tell you a little bit about presenting my honors project!

Let’s say for your project, you were involved doing research in a lab. You have planned out your experiment, ordered all the supplies, collected all your data… now what? The requirements for the project state that you make a poster to present at some sort of meeting. One option is to go to the Undergraduate Research Symposium or ExplorACES, both great chances to practice presenting your research and make connections here at Illinois. But you can also go to a conference off campus and present your research to other scientists in your field of research. I chose to do the last option.

The first thing you have to do is choose a conference to attend. My research involved culture of ovarian follicles, so I chose to present at a reproduction society meeting (International Embryo Transfer Society). Once you choose, you have to submit an abstract. If you have your research aims and data, you have to package it nicely into an abstract and send it to the reviewers of your chosen conference. Keep in mind that many conferences have abstract deadlines several months before the conference, so you will have to be ready ahead of time. Once your abstract is accepted, you can start making your poster! Make sure to include a lot of pictures, graphs and data.

When the conference finally rolls around, really try to make the most of your experience. While yes, all you really have to do is stand by your poster; conferences are a great time to meet other scientists in your field, make connections for future goals, collaborate on projects, learn new methods and current research, and come up with new ideas! There are plenty of seminars and talks about people’s research, and furthermore there is the poster presentation, which is a great time to talk to presenters about their research. I really enjoyed that part, and I also enjoyed presenting my own poster. I was asked a lot of really good questions and had to articulate details about my research in a coherent manner, which is really important for any future in research.

Overall, at the conference I went to, I learned a ton about science and reproductive biology and important techniques. But I also learned a lot about how to present myself to professors and other researchers, what it is like to be an animal scientist, and what sort of things to expect in my future career. Conferences are really an invaluable experience, and I would recommend presenting at one!