2013 GSC Conference Grant Winners

On September 16, 2013 by Grad Forum

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) offers financial support to graduate students in the form of graduate student conference grants. The grants are awarded to qualifying students to support their research presentations at conferences or other events. The money funds travel, hotel, food, and registration fees for the event. This is a great resource for students who want to travel to present their research, but may not have the funds to do so. The 2013 winners are as follows:

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Professor Glyn Elwyn receiving the lifetime achievement award for advancing patients’ rights in healthcare.

Kyla Donnelly, a Master of Public Health student who graduated this past June, traveled to Peru for the International Shared Decision Making conference. This four-day conference featured “over 100 workshops, presentations, and key note addresses” that focused on shared decision making in healthcare throughout the world. Professor Glyn Elwyn of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI) was awarded a lifetime achievement award for “advancing patients’ rights in healthcare.” Donnelly was given the opportunity to co-present a workshop with Dr. Elwyn to promote “informed decision making based on patients’ preferences and values.” She felt the conference was lively, insightful, and a wonderful experience for a graduate student.

Thomas Kraft, a PhD student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) program, was awarded the grant to present his work in Liverpool, England. He attended the 10th Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies. At this conference, Kraft was able to give an oral presentation on his work on the Batek, “a group of hunting and gathering people occupying peninsular Malaysia.” Like the other award winners, Kraft benefited from feedback on his work. The highlight of the experience for him was meeting Professor Richard Lee, “one of the original organizers… of the famous ‘Man the Hunter’ conference held at the University of Chicago in 1966.”

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O’Connor presenting her poster at the American Society of Microbiology meeting.

Megan O’Connor, a PhD student in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, attended the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) conference in Denver, Colorado. She commented that it was helpful to have fellow researchers “look at her work from a different perspective.” Another great aspect of the conference for O’Connor was that there was research from outside of her own field. This was “an extremely educating experience” in which she was able to explore other research topics. As she looks into finding a job, this exposure is critical.

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Snyder admiring the architecture of Alvar Aalto during a break at the conference.

Scott Snyder, a PhD student at Thayer School of Engineering, took advantage of the grant to travel to Espoo, just outside Helsinki, Finland. There he attended the 22nd International Conference on Port and Ocean Engineering under Arctic Conditions, or POAC ’13. Some topics at the conference included ice mechanics, ice-breaking ships, and ice navigation. Snyder gave his presentation on his work “studying the effects of plastic pre-strain on the mechanical behavior and properties of ice.” Snyder felt that by attending he learned even more than he expected, especially from all of the helpful feedback he received after his presentation. Snyder said he now has a “new appreciation for how the particular problems I am investigating have relevance to a variety of applications.” He learned a lot about technical presentations, including “formatting slides, amount of detail, and manner of speaking.” He also made a number of valuable connections with peers in his area of study.

Xin Su, a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry, used the travel grant to go to the Gordon Research Seminar in Physical Organic Chemistry at the Holderness School in New Hampshire. The conference was completely organized by students and had mostly student attendees. This was an opportunity for Su to “exchange ideas with renowned professors” in a mentorship session. Su explained that this experience is “useful for people who want to start their careers in academia.” There were both oral and poster presentations as well as forums to elicit questions and discussion. Su felt the student-led setting was a great platform for students to practice their communication skills.

Vinoy Vijayan is currently pursuing a PhD in genetics as part of the Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) Program. The travel grant assisted him in attending the Sensory Signaling in Model Organisms conference held at the Janelia Farm Research Campus (HHMI) in Ashburn, Virginia. Due to the conference’s small size, he was “allowed…to interact with many really important scientists whose work has strong connections to mine.” This was important to him as he is finishing up his time here at Dartmouth and getting ready to defend his thesis. It was critical for him to “…build connections with potential future mentors,” and this conference certainly provided him with that chance.

Overall, all of the winners found that the opportunity to travel to present their work enhanced their academic experience. Graduate students planning to present at a conference may submit a Graduate Student Council Conference Grant Application. Additional travel funds are also available through the Graduate Studies Office.

by Britney Tappen

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