poster competitions

Alana Phillips alana.phillips at
Wed Aug 7 20:10:05 EST 1996

Brian (lanoilb at brought up the topic of poster 

I think Brian has raised some good points....  As the winner of a poster 
(non-doorprize-MSc category) at a recent conference, I thought I should 
add some comments.


>I have noticed at 
>the graduate student level that many of the competitions, e.g. student 
>poster competitions, are often won by work which is sketchy or 

I won for a poster describing preliminary work.  The conference was held 
after I'd only been in the field once, so that was all I had.  Since the 
meeting is held every 2 years, this was the only one for my degree 
program.  My supervisor tells me that a poster describing preliminary 
work can win if it shows good direction and thorough methodology, eg you 
can demonstrate that your project has good potential to contribute 
something important to the field.  Thus, an incomplete study can win over 
a complete but mediocre study.

>What I have noticed, though, is that all of the women who win 
>these things are "perky", that is they are all young, thin, and very 
>energetic.  I have also heard competition judges saying things like 
>"attitude counts for a lot" and "she was really charming" when 
>why they chose those students to win.  Does it seem strange to anyone 
>else that competitions like this should be decided on looks and attitude 
>and not the value of the work?

Well, I rather hope that mine was judged on the value of the work. Let's 
see... "young", yes I am,  "thin", far from it,  "perky" -  huh?  
"energetic"  - well, I'm the one with narcolepsy...  Actually, I had the 
list of poster judges and out of about 8 or 10 of them, I only talked to 
maybe two.  The rest must have come and looked at it earlier in the day. 
 However, I think that attitude *does* and should play a role.  Let's 
face it, as Julia Frugoli has already pointed out, if you are totally 
enthusiastic and positive about the work you're presenting, then you WILL 
do better than someone with a snazzy poster that covers up poor research.

IMHO, of course.  :-)

Alana Phillips

Dept of Biological Sciences
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Canada

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