Graduate students gain valuable networking, presentation opportunities at fall conferences

Attending conferences has a number of benefits for graduate students, from networking opportunities, to experience presenting research, to being inspired by new ideas. These testimonials from current graduate students illustrate what they gained from attending conferences in their fields this semester.

Each of these students was the recipient of a Student Research Grants Competition Conference Presentation Fund award, which supports student travel to present at a conference. Applications are open year-round. For details, visit the Conference Presentation Funds webpage.


Richard NessRichard Ness, PhD student in English

Attended the International Conference on Romanticism (ICR) in Greenville, South Carolina

The paper I delivered at this conference, “Empirical Taste and Poetic Science: John Clare’s Song of Experience,” is the basis of my dissertation chapter on Clare. ICR was an ideal opportunity for me to develop and refine the conceptual contours of that chapter as well as my dissertation as a whole. Furthermore, the conference allowed me to present my research to a field-specific audience and receive valuable feedback from established as well as up and coming scholars of Romantic-period literature. Many of these scholars promise to be valuable colleagues in the future, and thanks to them, I’ve returned to Madison with many fresh and productive ideas.

Since I had the pleasure to hear about twenty other papers and participate in the discussions about these papers – not to mention the many informal conversations throughout the 3-day conference – my knowledge and appreciation for current trends in the field significantly increased as a result. This knowledge will not only have a positive impact on my dissertation chapter on John Clare, but also on my teaching and the research I will conduct on this author in the future.

The International Conference on Romanticism is an important conference in the field of Romanticism and eighteenth and nineteenth-century culture more broadly. I was honored to participate in this conference as many of the scholars there are making substantive contributions to the field of Romantic studies. I was also happy for the opportunity to represent UW-Madison. The experience greatly benefited my current chapter, my dissertation more broadly, and my professionalization.


Edna ChiangEdna Chiang, PhD candidate in Microbiology

Attended the 17th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology in Leipzig, Germany

My career goal is to become a science communicator who increases science accessibility and public support for the sciences through both research and public engagement. My attendance at the International Society of Microbial Ecology (ISME), the largest and foremost conference in my field, was an invaluable professional development experience. I attended ISME for 6 days, and presented my work in a poster.

This was my first international conference and I was amazed by the sheer number and diversity of microbiologists with whom I interacted. I was challenged to learn how to communicate my work in a manner that appealed to people of all different backgrounds and interests. Notably, I connected with other hibernation microbiologists to discuss collaborations that will directly enrich my thesis.

Not only did I engage in stimulating conversations about research, but I also participated in science communication. I attended an event called Night of the Microbes where scientists gave talks to the general public of Leipzig to engage them in microbiology. I was able to learn new science communication techniques from the speakers and connect with other microbial ecologists interested in public engagement. My participation in ISME significantly contributed to my development as both a microbiologist and a science communicator.


Ankita KumarAnkita Kumar, PhD student in Business

Attended the Association for Consumer Research Conference in Dallas, Texas

I was able to present my dissertation research on the eldercare services industry at this conference. The response from the audience was encouraging and they had some excellent feedback and suggestions. This opportunity has helped me to distinguish myself and my work on health care (and there aren’t many researchers focusing on health care) in the marketing research community. I successfully organized the special session in an especially tough year, which has gained me some degree of recognition as an academic. I also feel that it was a chance for my research participants to voice their difficult experiences of eldercare around Alzheimer’s disease.

I am on the job market, so the conference gave me an especially important opportunity to network with professors at universities [that I] am visiting for campus interviews. It was a great opportunity to practice my job talk as well as meet other academics and co-authors.

Eliciting and offering ideas and thoughts are a big part of the academic enterprise. The conference was a wonderful opportunity to witness other researchers’ work, which always inspires new ideas and introspection of one’s own research. It has helped to make new friendships and rekindle old ones.


Minxue HuangMinxue Huang, PhD student in Chemistry

Attended the 256th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts

While at the ACS meeting, I presented once in a “C-H activation” poster session and another time at “Sci-Mix” in which selected posters from each poster session come together for a highly attended mixer. While presenting at the first poster session, I communicated and shared my research progress with lots of professors, scientists, and students from all around world.

At the Sci-Mix poster session, I was able to make a connection with an alumnus who is now a research and development (R&D) scientist at Pfizer. I was so proud that he highly valued my research and got his business card after I presented to him. The Pfizer alumnus seemed eager to recruit more scientists from our high-performing department. Besides presenting in poster sessions, I also filled up my schedule with seminars which allow me to keep up with the field and learn from the leading scholars.

The ACS meeting had a large Expo in which various companies had exhibits and booths to visit. Visiting this Expo and going to career workshops, I was able to get a better feel for the sorts of jobs and careers one might pursue with a PhD in Chemistry. One last highlight was doing the mock interview and editing my resume during the career fair. I gained more confidence in starting to pursue a R&D position and build my career in industry.