Poster Competition Experience

It’s October and my Honours thesis is due in just a little over a month. I know it’s cliché to say that this year has flown by, but it truly has!

This year, I was able to create my first ever scientific poster based off the research I have been doing for my Honours project. I was very excited about this prospect! I entered my poster into the Postgraduate Science Poster Competition. We had to create a poster to showcase our exciting research. In all, my poster took me about 8 hours to create in Powerpoint. After a discussion with a friend on how to make my poster stand out, we agreed that it would be very cool if we could *show* people what my stick insects actually look like! Photos are great, but seeing them in real life is just so much cooler (and is probably one of the only reasons people come to visit me in the lab haha)! We came up with the idea of sticking insects that were incased in resin on the poster. Could we do that? Are we even ALLOWED to do that? And would the poster hold? Well, we thoroughly checked the rules and emailed a few people, which all came to the consensus that as long that it wasn’t moving, I should be fine! I used stick insects from my project which had already died, and pinned them in the position I wanted them to be in, to set and dry. We also used eggs which had already hatched and some kānuka foliage to make it look realistic!

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Resin cast of an adult male and female, as well as first instar nymph of Clitarchus hookeri.
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Clitarchus hookeri eggs and kānuka leaves encased in resin.

I tend to lean towards quite non-traditional posters. Like a little kid, I prefer mine with bright colours, lots of photos and as less words as possible. I think it’s quite an art to strike a balance between having enough scientific content, but also making it easy to understand to a vast number of people (not just your lab group!). My way of dealing with that was to show the drafts to both non-science people and scientific people, and see how well they understood the poster in order to *try* and strike that delicate balance. After many revisions and a few choice words directed at Powerpoint, my poster looked like this:

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My poster based off my Honours research project “What are the advantages of mating once, many times or not at all? Facultative parthenogenesis in the common New Zealand stick insect”

Attached below is also the pdf version, which is actually readable! ↓

Poster – Final Version

The night of prizegiving came, to which I went along to because there was also catering and wine, and well that’s definitely an advantage of uni that every student should indulge in. There was 65 entries in total this year. And well… I am happy to report that I won first place!

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First place award for my poster, red wine faithfully in hand!

Now, one of the provisions of this competition is that the top 20 posters also get entered into the Exposure Poster Competition. In their own words, Exposure is “an opportunity for postgraduate students to showcase their work to an audience, gain public recognition, receive feedback and network with employers”. It is a student-led research exhibition in collaboration with the school of graduate studies (SGS) at the University of Auckland. There are three categories to choose from: poster display, oral presentation and variety showcase.

And… I won first place, again! Honestly, I was shocked at that one. My dad certainly was haha!

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My first place prize and the Exposure programme. Sadly, I didnt get an actual certificate for this competition! Maybe I can make one up?

This experience has been amazing! Hopefully I can keep it up with my next posters haha!

I was blown away by the research other students are doing across the University. These posters competition are a great way to both showcase your research and meet other people within your field, but also see what other researchers within your faculty and across the university are up to!

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Also, here’s another little tid-bit. A month after the first competition, I had to create a poster as an assignment for my entomology post-grad class. I just found it funny, that after winning a faculty wide competition (and soon after a Uni wide one), I now had to make a poster for one of my classes! At least I had some prior practice and in fairness, it did take me less time to make that one! Here it is:

Insect Biogeography Poster

And OF COURSE it’s about stick insects!