Why enter PGR showcase?

I completed my Biological Sciences degree here at Exeter, before continuing on into an MbyRes. I undertook a joint project between Dr Helen Dawe and Dr Isabelle Jourdain here in Biosciences, which has now progressed into a PhD funded by the Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship. My project focuses on ciliopathies, a class of severe diseases caused when your cells signalling antennae – called “cilia” – do not form or function correctly. A ciliopathy patient with a mutation in a mystery protein was discovered back in 2012, and it is my mission to figure out how this mystery protein helps to build cilia!

I think I heard about the PGR Showcase from an email newsletter that circulated around the department. My first thought was that the event was probably only aimed at PhD students. After all, I was only a few months into my MbyRes, and figured that I didn’t really have enough data to present. However when I spoke to my supervisors about it, they told me that I could definitely produce a poster from what I had so far, and that it would be a useful exercise in learning how to present my research. So I decided to go for it!

My poster ended up being about 50% explaining the field, and 50% my own results, so I needn’t have worried about not having enough data. The best advice I received from my supervisor was to take out as much subject-specific jargon as I could, keep it simple, and to make the poster as visual as possible. After all, the showcase is a University-wide event, so I needed to convey (in my case) Biological Sciences research in a way that someone who studies English Literature could understand.

I considered the day a useful learning experience, and just assumed that Best Poster would be awarded to a PhD student. So I was very surprised and grateful when I won best STEMM poster, along with a £250 voucher! I think it’s great that the competition is judged not on the amount of results you have, but on your ability to present your research to an audience who are not familiar with your field (or even your discipline!).

As well as presenting your poster, getting to walk around and have a look at all the other entries was a great opportunity to learn about some of the other PG research that is going on across the University. The competition was also good practice – when I had the opportunity to present my results at a national conference later on that year, I not only already had experience making a poster and organising my results into a story, but also more confidence when explaining my research to people I had just met. I’d really recommend applying, even if you’re a Masters student – you’ll get a lot out of the day, and a shot at a great prize!

Written by: Lauren Adams (1st Year- Biosciencse PhD Student)

Twitter: @L_Adams08
LinkedIn: laurenadams08
Email: lauren.adams@exeter.ac.uk