Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Poster Day

I generally don't talk about work on here, but I will make an exception to share some highlights from today! This week we had our annual conference at work--an event where 500+ people from all over the organization come together to present their research.

Here I am with my poster! I presented some findings from my research on genetics blogs, credibility, and influence. These pictures were actually taken by someone who came by the poster and wanted to share it with his friends on Twitter: 

For my non-scientist readers, let me introduce you to the "poster session." Do you remember the middle school science fair? This is like that, but with more graphs and fewer baking soda volcanos. The "poster" is also like hazing for early-career scientists. You spend weeks working on a poster--which your colleagues re-arrange and re-word within an inch of its (and your) life. Then, during the poster session, people walk by and talk to you about your poster, and you hope that they don't ask you inane questions such as: "Yes, but can you please calculate off the top of your head p-values of a multivariate equation involving things that only marginally relate to your research?" 

Well, hopefully I have not discouraged anyone from pursuing a career in the sciences, as poster sessions are not all bad. The helpful and insightful questions generally outnumber the bizarre ones, and it actually can turn out to be a fun and low-pressure way to talk about your work. 

Today was particularly exciting for me as this project has been my "baby" since early 2009. It's the first time I've gotten to present the results to a group other than my direct colleagues. The response was so overwhelmingly positive, and I was even a bit surprised at just how excited people were about the topic. A couple of people were even interested in collaborating on future projects, which I definitely was not expecting to come out of the poster session. There have been so many times over the past two years that people have doubted this project, have asked me "why" I am doing it or what the significance of it is, or just not really "gotten" it. Today, it was a bit of a "so there!" feeling with all of the positive feedback.

It's been easy to doubt myself over this project. I've had to teach myself a lot of the topic and techniques, and it's so different from anything my colleagues were doing. I definitely was afraid at some points that I wouldn't be able to find a relevant angle for it, and sometimes I feared it wasn't worthwhile after all. After my talks with people today, I was able to gain back some confidence in the work...which I will definitely need for the next step: publishing a paper about it!


Grounds For Construction said...

Cool!! I have always wanted a fancy poster like that with my name on it. Someday!!!

Nanda said...

That's awesome! Moments that validate what you're doing are so amazing when they happen! Sounds like you came across as persuasive, sincere, and that your really sold what you were doing. Woohoo! Hopefully now you'll have more confidence, and it sounds like this poster session may have opened up doors for other and new opportunities.

And good to hear from you after long time no post! Sounds like you've been busy though.

Anonymous said...

Looks awesome - good to see you made some brownies out of all that research flour :)