BY LEIGH ANNA LOGSDON
On your mark, get set, go! The countdown is on for preparing your research poster to present at upcoming ACS regional meetings and at the 246th ACS National Meeting in Indianapolis. As a veteran ACS poster presenter, here are my top six tips for
successfully presenting a poster at an ACS meeting:
1. Know your research: Although you may have done all of
the benchwork, do you understand all the mechanisms and background of your research? If not, now is the time to dig into the
literature and, if necessary, seek help from your advisor to understand the reasoning behind each of your laboratory steps and the
larger picture of your project.
2. Boil it down: Prepare your “elevator speech,” a 60-second
summary of what you did, why you did it, and your results.
3. Practice, practice, practice: You should practice your
elevator speech to yourself, lab mates, friends, and family. It can
also be helpful to present it to people without a chemistry background. For example, a group of middle school students were touring our new science building, and their teacher asked me about
my research. To explain my work with protein affinity tags to the
students, I talked about eating a bowl of Lucky Charms. Whenever
you eat a bowl of Lucky Charms, I explained, all you really want are
the marshmallows; this is analogous to my research because we
want to pick out specific proteins from a mixture. Bazinga! The kids
understood my research! Practice your elevator speech to others,
and you will be prepared for whomever walks up to your poster.
4. Design your poster: The key to a great poster is a single,
cohesive story summarizing your research project. Show the key
results that support your conclusion and demonstrate the originality of your work.
5. Dress for success: Potential employers and graduate school
recruiters come by the poster sessions, so you want to look professional and confident. For both men and women, I suggest going for
solid colors for tops and black or blue for pants— a conservative
and classic look.
For men: Black pants or slacks, a button-down shirt (long-sleeve),
and a tie is ideal. Also, nice brown or black shoes are important — ditch the sneakers for today.
For women: The best combinations
are black pants or skirt with a nice
shirt (short- or long-sleeve) or a dress
that is close to knee-length, with hose.
It’s important to not wear anything
that is too clingy. You want your work
to be on display, not your figure. Also,
low heels (no taller than 2 inches) or
flats are best. You will be standing and
walking all day.
6. Print business cards: Now that you
have practiced and look the part, you should
be prepared to share your contact information. Don’t be afraid it might bust your budget — you can get 250 cards custom-printed at
Staples for as little as $6!
To make sure you’re ready to go,
here’s an ACS National Meeting
Poster Presenter checklist:
Note cards to practice your speech
Hotel and flight itineraries
Poster (seems obvious, but double-check!)
Flash drive (with the digital files for your poster on it)
Printed materials (your poster number, confirmation, etc.)
Business cards and a portfolio with copies of your résumé
Pen and a notebook (who knows when inspiration could strike!)
For more, check out Brent Znosko’s ACS Webinar, Tips
for Creating High Impact Scientific Poster Presentations, at
Leigh Anna Logsdon is a senior biochemistry and molecular biology major at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. She has worked in Dr. Urbach’s bio-organic chemistry group at Trinity since her sophomore year. She has published a paper as first author in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, worked in the Tirrell group at Caltech during the summer of
2011, presented her work at the 2012 ACS San Diego meeting poster session,
and will give a talk at the 2013 ACS New Orleans meeting.
www.acs.org/undergrad • inChemistry