May 14, 2018, by Alice Kong

Postgraduate Showcase 2018

The Postgraduate Showcase 2018 took place on the 3rd of May 2018 and was organised by the Graduate school and members of the Postgraduate Student Network (PGSN). This yearly event aims to enhance the presentation and communication skills of the postgraduate students in UNMC. As postgraduate students, we are always cooped up in lab or in front of our laptops as we strive for daily progress in our research. Event like this gives us the opportunity to get out of our bubble and hone our interpersonal skills with the public. The purpose of this showcase was to enable us to converse with the public and explain the importance our projects. One important component in research is to be able to effectively communicate with people and increase awareness about how we are constantly striving to eliminate problems in our daily life, be it in the medical field or in green energy production.

The yearly showcase was professionally set up and the judging was done by UNMC staff as well as external judges from UKM. In the first stage, we were required to prepare a press release and selected participants then moved on to the second stage of poster design and presentation. The event began with a talk by Dr Tissa Chandesa and the showcase lasted for around two hours. All the posters displayed were remarkably well designed and all the participants did a great job in engaging with the public.

I was quite nervous when I reached the showcase room as everyone looked experienced and intimidating in their formal wear. However, once the judges and public started to go around, the nervousness faded to excitement as I got to present my work to numerous people. It was refreshing to get so many different views and questions from people in different fields of work. Some even brought to my attention useful points I could add to my project or how I could improve my poster design. It was thrilling to see the positive reactions and encouragements from everyone as I told my research story and goals.

My research deals with making allopurinol treatment safer for gout patients by incorporating my newly designed genetic screening method called the High Resolution Melt method (HRM). It was easy to relate to the public and judges as gout is widely known and common in our society. Once I finished explaining the whole poster, the audience reacted by saying ‘Why hasn’t this been done before?’ and that truly made my day. Their responses truly reignited my passion for my project. This form of recognition and encouragement may seem insignificant to some, but to us postgraduate students, who have been toiling hard for years, it means a lot. It was with this mindset that I completed the showcase and went on to wait for the winners to be announced. Four prizes were to be given out, namely the best press release, best communicator, best poster design and the overall winner. The prize giving ceremony started with a thankful note to all the organisers, accompanied by a round of applause for their hard work and dedication.

I was confident and hopeful to win one award. Only one. When my name was called out for the winner of the best press release, I got up overjoyed, received the prize and went back to my seat smiling. This continued with the second award. “The winner of the best communicator prize goes to….. guess who?” (audience laughed, including me) and to my surprise, my name was called again! I frowned and got up shocked and numb, my eyes bulging from my face. I walked up to the judge who was presenting the award, awkwardly smiling. I received the second prize, to thunderous applause from the audience, and sat down with my hands full of envelopes and big glass trophies.

The next award for the best poster design went to a peer from Chemical and Environmental engineering who truly had an awesome poster. I was conversing with him before the competition and his idea of generating electricity from the photosynthesis process of plants truly amazed me. The last award for the overall winner was announced and my name was called for the third time! I think ‘numb’ was an understatement by then as I was trying to hold all three trophies, which were making a lot of noise and kept falling from my lap, much to the delight of my friends. I was met with congratulations from everyone and we mingled for a while over lunch. It is only after going home, placing the three trophies on my shelf and calling my parents that I was able to grasp how happy and lucky I was.

Picture in front of my poster, trying very hard to hold all 3 trophies and not letting any of them fall.

I thank the graduate school for organising this event, it was truly enjoyable. I thank my unwavering support system- my family, my supervisors Dr Then Sue Mian and Prof Ting Kang Nee and all my friends and peers who have always encouraged me. The one thing engraved in my memory after this showcase is how all your hard work pays off in the end. The most important thing I learned was to enjoy your work wholeheartedly and not to let anything else dull this passion. Find your passion, and it’s no longer work.

Picture with the organisers from the PGSN and friends, Janet and Ola.

Article by: Anusha Devi Nawoor (PhD student)

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