University of Montana Graduate Student Research Conference – April 2014

Last week, I got the chance to present a poster in the University of Montana Graduate Student Research Conference – an interdisciplinary meeting of different graduate programs. My poster focused on blogging and graduate students, using Environmental Explorations as a case study.

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In the morning, I attended oral presentations by students in the College of Forestry and Conservation and the theatre department. The theatre students had the most lively oral sessions! One student is going to be in a play in a few weeks, so she researched and implemented different acting techniques and made a research project out of it. My favorite part is when she demonstrated her research through reciting a few of her lines.

During lunch there was a panel discussion about the role of graduate studies in the 21st century. UM President Royce Engstrom attended and entertained questions about budget cuts, travel funding and graduate student activities. It was very helpful to have the president of the University listening to our ideas and talking with each of us about our concerns.

My badge for the conference
My badge for the conference

After lunch was the poster session. My posted, titled “How Blogging Helps Graduate Students,” explored how graduate students could use blogging to convey important ideas not necessarily related to their field of study, and how a blog can help with web presence after graduation, which is important in 2014 and beyond. You can view my abstract here.

Me at my poster, holding my iPad to show participants my blog in real-time.
Me at my poster, holding my iPad to show participants my blog in real-time.

As with any creative research project, there was no “data” per se, but I used my blog as a case study to explain how first my graduate director was impressed with my blog when I came to graduate school: this is one of the ways that my blog has helped me thus far. Secondly, I talked about how, during graduate school, students can use it as a way to talk about issues that interest them or about their creative process. Lastly, I talked about how important it is to create an internet brand for yourself so that you and your work is “searchable” on the internet.

Another part of my poster was some logistics about making a blog – like what platform works best and how often to post. I obviously said WordPress is the best blog platform, but I also talked about Tumblr and Blogger.

Overall, I was happy with the positive feedback! People who came to my poster agreed with me about the need for students to blog about their work, and many people, as I anticipated, wanted some help with their blog. I hope that I was able to give sound advice!

The highlight of the day: President Engstrom (or Royce, as he said to call him), scanned my QR code and read my blog from his phone. Very cool!

I continue to learn, more and more, that my blog has been a great tool for me both professionally and personally, and I intend to continue using it for a long time!

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