Grad students come together to share research

About a dozen students shared their research and offered ideas at a new symposium.

University of Minnesota graduate students don’t usually stray from their home departments.

Now, a campus group is trying to change that by offering a venue for students to share their research across disciplines.

Students from across the University had a chance to discuss their research findings with a wider audience Wednesday when the Council of Graduate Students hosted its first annual symposium at the Mayo Auditorium. 

COGS member and event organizer Nicole Scott said graduate students usually only showcase their research within their own programs, and the symposium gives them a way to extend beyond their typical audience.

“We’re able to bring these students from different programs together to talk about their specific research as it pertains to a common topic,” she said.

Scott said COGS hopes to host the event annually and vary each year’s focus. Nearly a dozen researchers took the stage for Wednesday’s daylong program, which centered on how stress affects personal and economic health.

Graduate student Gilbert Gonzales took the podium to talk about his research on how economic stress impacts children. He said the public speaking experience was a helpful way to disseminate his research.

“We all do different types of research,” he said, “and it’s good to be exposed to those different methods.”

Other speakers discussed topics such as how increased stress causes stronger cellphone dependence and the role food plays in people’s moods.

After presenters outlined their research, audience members from different programs asked questions and challenged findings.

Child development professor Ann Masten, the keynote speaker, said it’s great to see graduate students plan this type of event. She said she thinks it will be successful in coming years.

In addition to getting valuable input from his peers, Gonzales said, having the chance to present his research was good public speaking practice.

“This is a great opportunity to get some experience,” Gonzalez said.

Nearly 60 people confirmed attending the event via online invitation, but only about 20 showed up. Because the event is in its first year, Masten said, the low attendance numbers are understandable.

“I think [COGS will] figure out how to attract an audience,” she said.

Researchers and COGS members agreed, noting they hope the event gains momentum in the future.

“It’s such a great opportunity for [COGS] to organize and host this event,” Masten said.