Virtual Showcase Series to Highlight Student Research
Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation
April 13, 2021 (originally posted March 8, 2021)
To ensure students have a chance to improve their research presentation and communication skills, Career Services is working with alum Sinduja Srinivasan (cohort '09) to help develop a virtual showcase series and possible podcast, in place of a single Virtual Research Showcase event.
Career Services director Sandy Buchan recognized that a large virtual event would have faced several challenges.
"It’s a year of new challenges where we are learning how to merge complicated technology and software that’s needed to carve a compelling message in a virtual environment, all the while learning new communication skills," she said.
Srinivasan added that she worked with Buchan to determine how they could provide an opportunity for students to present their research. "Given the pandemic, the Research Showcase that happened last year was not going to be feasible, to be in the same room."
They decided to encourage students to explore a variety of communications styles, from elevator pitches to conference presentations — whatever each participant thinks would be most helpful to them.
To that end, participating students will present their research to Srinivasan in May and receive personalized feedback from her. Once Srinivasan has worked with each participant, she and Buchan will invite a few to participate in more in-depth interviews for a Pardee RAND podcast that is in development.
"Sinduja is the perfect partner on this, since she works for FiveThirtyEight and is the producer for PODCAST-19’s COVID productions," Buchan said. "In addition, she will be working with the school’s Tech + Narrative lab to integrate the technology to provide a stimulating experience for our students."
Prior to FiveThirtyEight, Srinivasan spent a decade as a development economist and policy analyst, pivoting to podcasting in 2019. She created and produced UNcomplicated, a podcast demystifying the United Nations, before joining "Science Vs." at Gimlet Media.
At a planning event, Srinivasan told the students, "Ultimately, in presenting your research, you not only figure out where the holes are in what you're studying or analyzing, but also it's a chance for you to tell a story to someone who's not familiar with your research.
"The goal for me, in supporting your research, is to provide a one-on-one feedback session for wherever you are in your research process," she added. "If you can tell me the important takeaways, if you can get me on board, you can get anybody on board."