Seeing the bigger picture
Undergrad poster competition winner cites benefits of learning to explain your research
Have you ever had to explain something but got caught up in the details? Or done a lab with a supervisor and still have trouble explaining what exactly you do to other people? Learning to see the bigger picture and relay this to people is important for any aspect of life—and especially for research.
“The poster competition was a great way to take a step back and look at the big picture of my project in general … instead of all the little steps I do in the lab every day,” says Shoshana Cook-Libin, one of the winners of UM’s recent Undergraduate Research Poster Competition.
Cook-Libin was among the three category winners of the Undergraduate Research Poster Competition out of 16 impressive project posters in the field of Natural Sciences. She worked alongside her supervisor, Associate Professor Ayush Kumar, in the Faculty of Science and Rady Health Sciences, in his lab on antibiotic—specifically, her work focussed on antibiotic resistance in a pathogen that’s major causes of hospital-acquired infections in the current healthcare system. See the poster she presented at the competition: Investigating aminoglycoside susceptibility in Acinetobacter baumannii and its relationship to oxidative stress.
Each summer, students from all backgrounds of research interest, ranging from the social sciences and humanities to natural and applied science, participate in 16-week program from May to the end of August, working alongside UM researchers. This initiative is known as the Undergraduate Research Awards (URA) and it provides students hands-on research experience in their specialized fields.
The annual Undergraduate Research Poster Competition takes place each fall and is open to all UM undergrad students. It also provides URA students an opportunity to showcase the research they’ve done through their placement time. For Cook-Libin, it helped her to learn to communicate her research to the public in presentation form.
“The poster competition is a good way to practice science communication because a lot of people know a lot about their [own] work but if you can’t communicate it, that kind of disadvantages you as a scientist,” she says.
The experience also meant connecting with other departments, professors and researchers through conferences and the main aspect of this competition, the poster presentation. Cook-Libin summarizes the competition as “educational—it challenged me in new ways … and it gave me the bigger picture.”
See the Undergraduate Research Poster Competition page for a list of all 2021 winners.
About the Undergraduate Research Awards
UM is the first Canadian university to offer an Undergraduate Research Award open to undergraduate students in all fields and ranges of research, scholarly works or creative activities.
The awards are competitive. Students apply to be mentored for 16 weeks (full-time from May through August) by a professor of their choice. There are:
- 172 awards available across all disciplines
- 10 per cent of awards are available for self-declared Indigenous students
- 2 awards for community-based projects
- $7,000 monetary award
- Is a recognized UM Co-Curricular Record activity
If you are a successful recipient of the award, you are encouraged to present the results of your research, scholarly work or creative activity at the annual Undergraduate Research Poster Competition.
Visit the Undergraduate Research Awards page for more information, and see the Undergraduate Poster Competition page for a list of all 2021 winners.
This year’s deadline for participating in the Undergraduate Research Awards is Feb. 14, 2022. To be eligible, you need to be a UM undergraduate student, have a UM advisor and be on track to obtain your degree.