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Graduate Researchers Take on the World

UM graduate students discuss their work and results at the ninth annual Research Symposium, which featured topics ranging from termite species in the southern Appalachians to food security among rural Mississippi parents.Submitted photo

More than 50 graduate students at the University of Mississippi presented their research during the ninth annual Research Symposium, discussing topics ranging from termite species in the southern Appalachians to food security among rural Mississippi parents.

Presented by the UM Graduate Student Council and held at The Inn at Ole Miss, the recent event was an opportunity for Ole Miss graduate students to share their research with the academic body.

“Our graduate school is producing top-notch research, and the funds we are providing will allow our students to present in many places far and wide,'” said Christopher Bright-Ramos, president of the Graduate Student Council, or GSC, and a doctoral student in history.

“It’s common to get asked, ‘Are you ready?’ on this campus. Our graduate students are taking that question and asking it to the academic world.”

The all-day event started with 20 podium addresses by graduate students discussing their research in disciplines such as biomolecular sciences; physics; psychology; health, exercise and recreation management; chemical engineering; and more. The day concluded with 34 poster presentations on research from students in the College of Liberal Arts and the schools of Pharmacy, Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“The role of graduate students is critical in the success of any research university,” said Josh Gladden, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “This symposium provides an excellent venue for them to both highlight their valuable contributions and practice communicating the motivation and results of their research to a broad audience.”

The daylong event had two purposes, said David Harmon, co-director of academic and professional development for the GSC.

“First, we want to give graduate students an opportunity to have the conference experience without forcing them to go through the logistical and travel nightmares that come along with traveling to a discipline-specific symposium,” said Harmon, a native of Springfield, Virginia, who is working on a master’s degree in philosophy.

“And second – and most importantly, in my opinion – we want to make sure that graduate students know that their research matters. That it is of great importance.”

The day concluded with 21 students being bestowed awards from a panel of faculty and staff. Nine students received awards for their podium presentations, nine for their poster exhibitions and three for their data blitzes, where students quickly explained their research questions and offered summaries of their research results without having to tie themselves to any particular interpretation of the results.

The awards include travel funding so students can present their research at upcoming conferences.

Supporting and aiding graduate students in their academic and professional success is the reason for the GSC, said MaKensey Sanders, the group’s co-director of academic and professional development.

“Thanks to the judges and our team, I think this year was incredibly successful,” said Sanders, a native of Clinton who also is pursuing a master’s in philosophy.

“All the participants did a phenomenal job, and I believe even those not awarded gained invaluable experience in presenting their research.”

By Shea Stewart

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