Office of Science Education Communications Assistant Brent Jamsa sat down with four students to discuss their upcoming presentations at the second annual Undergraduate Poster Showcase. This year, the highly-anticipated event will be hosted on March 16, 6-8 PM EST via Zoom. Register here to attend: https://mcgill.ca/x/odx.
Join the virtual celebration! This year, the Office of Science Education is thrilled to host the second annual Undergraduate Poster Showcase in collaboration with the McGill Bicentennial, and attendees are asked to prepare for the “rip-roaringest” of Zoom meetings. Despite the online platform, this year’s Showcase will feature almost double the number of student presenters, who will share their scientific research, passion projects, in-class assignments, and more. With the event less than two weeks away, four presenters gave me a sneak preview of their presentations. Spoiler alert: you’re going to love them!
Presenter 1: Stephen Fay, Mathematics & Physics
The first presenter I chatted with was Stephen Fay, who is currently in his third year completing a joint honours degree in Mathematics and Physics. Stephen’s poster will focus on the research he conducted last summer about numerical integration for differential equations! When asked about why he chose this topic, Stephen said that mathematics' wide application piqued his interest and the ability to work autonomously fueled his curiosity. He hopes that his poster presentation will be able to convey that there can be creativity in mathematical processes.
Overall, Stephen said his research was a great opportunity to delve into aspects of mathematical theory that intrigued him the most. Stephen is excited to share his work with attendees, as well as see his peers’ poster presentations so that he can gain an understanding of the different disciplines that his fellow students have been working in. Looking to the future, Stephen says he hopes to secure a job in a technical field or attend graduate school to continue his research.
Presenter 2: Kari Hollett, Biology
After chatting with Stephen about mathematics and my unfortunate failure of high school geometry, I sat down with Kari Hollett, a fourth-year honours Biology student. Kari’s poster will detail her work examining the response of white-tailed deer in McGill’s Gault Nature Reserve to recreational trail usage.
In our discussion, Kari underscored the need to understand how white-tailed deer interact with recreational use of Gault Nature Reserve, as white-tailed deer continue to overpopulate in the region. Kari’s research was inspired by her enjoyment of the Ecology and Conservation courses she took at McGill and her desire to apply what she learned in the classroom to her own research. Kari hopes that attendees will come away from her presentation with a better understanding of how their activities impact local fauna. She is very excited to present her findings and intends to use the Showcase as an opportunity to see what other students are passionate about. In the future, Kari hopes to start her master’s degree at McGill and would like to continue investigating white-tailed deer in Gault Nature Reserve.
Presenter 3: Chloe White, Psychology
After getting the rundown on deer from Kari, I sat down with Chloe White, who is in the last year of her Psychology degree. Her poster presentation will center on stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the development of anxiety symptoms. Chloe notes that her research is motivated by how little is known about anxiety disorders, despite how commonly diagnosed they are. Chloe hopes that her research will help expose the general public to the psychology behind mental illness and also determine what causes people to be at a higher risk of anxiety disorders. With a better understanding of how anxiety disorders work and more public awareness, Chloe hopes that outcomes for those with anxiety disorders will improve.
As our chat ended, Chloe implored Psychology undergraduates to not get hung up on a bad grade or not getting into the honours program, but rather focus on making their own destiny. “Everything will work out,” she said. Chloe intends to eventually pursue her passion for psychology in graduate school and is currently slated to work with Dr. Sarah Racine as a research coordinator upon graduating from McGill.
Presenter 4: Benjamin Rudski, Computer Science & Biology
My final conversation was with Benjamin Rudski, who is currently finishing up his degree in honours Computer Science and Biology. His poster presentation will focus on the work he has done examining ant nuptial flights. Initially, his research was meant to study existing records of ant nuptial flights, but he found locating this data to be difficult. This, Benjamin says, forced him to re-evaluate his approach. Instead of trying to find the data, Benjamin looked to generate the data using citizen science through the development of a mobile application that allows users to report ant nuptial sightings as they go about their daily lives. Benjamin believes that this crowdsourcing approach to data collection will bring everyday people closer to science.
Benjamin hopes that presenting at the Showcase will allow him to share his work with people who are unaware about this area of research. “I really want to make people realize that science is exciting,” Benjamin remarked in response to being asked what he would like people to take away from his presentation. After graduation, Benjamin will begin working towards his PhD in McGill’s Quantitative Life Science program.
Interested in learning more about Stephen, Kari, Chloe, or Benjamin’s work? Be sure to attend OSE’s Undergraduate Poster Showcase on March 16th to check out their presentations and more amazing work done by McGill’s undergraduate students! Register here to attend and view our Facebook event page to learn more about our presenters.