• Graduate Student Research Symposium

    You are here

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The 18th annual Chemistry Graduate Student Symposium will be conducted, Tuesday, June 4, at the Herbert M Hanson Jr. Hall (Hanson Hall), 1925 4th St S, Minneapolis 55455 (West Bank). The symposium begins at 8 a.m. with a continental breakfast available. Opening remarks by Department Head David Blank will be at 8:45 a.m., and the sessions begin at 9:05 a.m. Registration is now closed.

The symposium primarily consists of research presentations by third-year graduate students in the chemistry doctorate program, including Derek Batiste, Caitlin Bouchey, Angela Carlson, Sina Chiniforoush, Louis Corcoran, Huarui Cui, Ryan Daley, Stephen Dempsey, Julia Early, Daniel Graham, Jiayi He, Sheng-Yin Huang, Jorden Johnson, Daniel Lee, En-Chih Liu, Andrew Marshall, Monica Ohnsorg, Colin Peterson, Jacob Prat, Cynthia Pyles, George "Ted" Riegel, Rebeca Rodriguez, Brian Spindler, Rachel Swedin, and Yiao Wang.

Presentations will take place in two concurrent sessions and be 20 minutes in length with an additional 5 minutes reserved for discussion. All presentations will be formally assessed by a committee of faculty members and distinguished alumni. Below is a two-page schedule for the day, and the full schedule and abstract program.

Through a generous donation to the department, travel awards will be presented to those individuals judged to have given the best presentation in each session. Written feedback will be provided to all presenters.

Abstract Submission

Registration & Abstract Submission: abstracts due, Friday, April 12

For consistency in the abstract book, follow the format below and use this Microsoft Word template; however, abstracts are submitted in PDF format (print to PDF: do not scan). 

Abstract Format:

  • use the supplied template, double click in each location and enter your information;
  • do not change the formatting on the template;
  • do not write your abstract title in all caps, use upper and lower case; e.g., In Pursuit of Catalysis: Metal-Metal Bonds in Multi-Electron Redox Chemistry ;
  • single-space between sentences, do not double or triple space;
  • keep the text rag right, not justified;
  • ensure that all Greek letters, subscripts and superscripts are in the final document; and
  • print your Microsoft Word document as a PDF (do not scan), and submit the PDF.

Please do not include information in abstract text that is sensitive intellectual property or has direct implications for university patents. When in doubt, consult with your adviser on the content of your abstract prior to submission (read below for more information)

As you prepare your abstracts and presentations for the graduate student research symposium, please consider if your research and specifically the results you will present is a new discovery or invention that may have commercial value.

Examples of new discoveries, inventions and intellectual property include:

  • a new compound or material such as a polymer or drug;
  • method of making a material;
  • a new device or instrument; and 
  • software and algorithms.

Indicators of potential commercial value include:

  • a well-developed innovation;
  • a strong, defined market problem that is solved by the innovation; and
  • a company has expressed interest in your research or licensing an innovation

If you believe you will be presenting information on an innovation that may have commercial value, please contact Leza Besemann in the Office for Technology Commercialization (OTC) to discuss at besem007@umn.edu or 612-625-8615.

Why is Intellectual Property (IP) and Technology Commercialization important?
University-developed Intellectual Property (IP) is important to both the University and industry. Commercializing University innovations:

  • rewards inventors for their innovation;
  • provides the University and departments with additional research funding;
  • benefits society by introducing new products and companies to improve quality of life, and to potentially create new jobs; and
  • provides job opportunities for students.

IP protection is a key step in the commercialization process. In most situations, it is best to protect an invention before it is made known to the public (those outside the University) through publication, posters, presentations or websites. If you will be presenting or publishing a paper on an innovation that you believe may have commercial value, please contact OTC to discuss.

Presentation Advice

No two presentations are exactly alike, and what works well in one instance may be unsuitable in another. Nevertheless, some general points can be made with respect to what constitutes a good seminar. Consider the judges' criteria 

 and audience feedback  in preparing your presentation. Additional suggestions include:
  1. The most common mistake made by a speaker is to assume that the audience has as detailed an understanding of the subject as does the speaker. This is only rarely the case. It is best to devote at least 5 minutes to fairly general background, explaining in particular what general factors motivate the more specific research to be discussed thereafter. What is the big picture? Why should anyone care? What specific questions are to be addressed by the speaker's research?
  2. The second most common mistake is to assume that it is better to give a cursory overview of many results rather than a cogent presentation of a subset of all that the speaker has accomplished. The motivation tends to be that speakers want to look as though they've accomplished a great deal, but the net result tends to be that no one in the audience has a clue what actually got done because insufficient time is devoted to any particular topic so as to make it comprehensible. Clarity is always preferred over quantity. 
  3. To assist in fostering clarity, the density of information on a single slide should be such that it takes about 2 minutes to discuss it. This is obviously a rough guideline, since there are occasionally good reasons to violate this rule in either direction. However, if you need more than 2 minutes for a slide, chances are it is too dense in information, and the audience will be confused trying to follow your discussion. Consider breaking it into two or more slides or into a slide that "grows" (e.g., in a PowerPoint presentation, new portions could be flown in after a stripped-down version is initially discussed; in an overhead presentation, additional transparencies can be laid over the first accomplishing the same thing). Note that for a 20 minute talk, this suggests 12 to 13 slides/foils/images is about the right number.
  4. In choosing topics for slides, consider doing your conclusions first. Now, evaluate each possible slide based on whether it provides evidence that permits you to arrive at your conclusions. If no, discard it (even if it took you 6 months of work). Short talks need maximum focus.
  5. Text in a font size smaller than 16 is illegible to most of the audience. Look at every one of your slides from the back of a lecture hall and then decide whether you think they are acceptable.
  6. Garish graphics detract from a talk rather than enhancing it. Avoid the impulse to animate, colorize, provide wild backgrounds, unless it clearly enhances the point that you are trying to make. Color can be very effective in highlighting small portions of an otherwise large graphic where the discussion will be focused. Animation can be useful in making 3-dimensional structures more comprehensible. Just remember that the science is the message.
  7. Practice your talk in front of an audience at least once or twice, and do that only after having practiced alone to the point where you know what you want to say as each individual slide comes up. Practice speaking slowly if you have a tendency to rush.
  8. Point at things as you discuss them. Speakers often assume that the audience must be looking at exactly the same part of the slide as they are, but the audience has not had the benefit of several prior runs.
  9. Project confidence! Chances are, you know more about the subject you are presenting than anyone else in the audience. Open the audience's eyes. It's OK to be nervous, but focus on a measured pace and a clear voice to overcome any deleterious effects of nerves.

Judging Criteria

One of the major goals of the Graduate Student Research Symposium is to give students experience presenting their research. Presentation skills will be invaluable throughout your career. It doesn’t matter how great your research accomplishments are if you cannot communicate them in a clear and effective manner. To help improve your presentation skills you will receive written feedback regarding your presentation from a panel of Minnesota faculty and alumni. An evaluation has been prepared to help the judges assess your presentation 

. Audience members also will provide feedback Please consider the criteria listed in the forms when preparing your presentation. The panel of judges will choose one presenter from each session to receive a travel award. The “best” presentations will be chosen considering both the scientific content and communication effectiveness of the students.

Conflict of Interest 
In the past, there has been no formal policy on faculty judging student advisees. However, there is a minor conflict of interest because of the travel award presented to the winner of each session. Understandably, faculty judges also want to see their students’ presentations.

As a remedy, the following has been put in place:

  • assign no more than one judge per session in this conflict of interest situation; and 
  • a judge in a conflict of interest position should participate in the initial evaluation; however, after the four top candidates are identified, that judge will leave the room and allow the other two judges to select the final winner.

Each winner will receive a certificate and travel award to be used to present the student’s research at a scientific meeting. One award will be presented in each of the two sessions. Only third-year doctorate-candidate students are eligible for these awards.

Distinguished Judges

Katie Hurley, Ph.D.
Lead Scientist
Ecolab in Eagan, MN

Alumna Katie Hurley, Ph.D., is a lead chemist at Ecolab in Eagan, MN, where she works as a project manager to develop and launch new laundry products for business customers such as hotels and long-term care facilities. She was recently awarded the Research Development & Engineering innovation and Service Excellence award at Ecolab for her leadership on several product launches. Hurley earned her master’s degree and doctorate in chemistry at the University of Minnesota with Professor Christy Haynes. Although her graduate work on mesoporous silica and iron oxide nanoparticles bears little resemblance to laundry products, the communication and problem-solving skills she honed in graduate school have served to make her a successful project manager in the chemical industry.

David Giesen, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist & Technical Lead
Schrödinger Materials Science Suite

Alumnus Dave Giesen, Ph.D., received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and his doctorate from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Professor Christopher Cramer was his thesis adviser. Geisen worked on the solvation modeling project that was a joint project between Professor Cramer and Professor Donald Truhlar. After Minnesota, he worked at Eastman Kodak, designing new materials in both photography and organic light-emitting diodes (OLED). In 2010, he changed careers and began working as a software developer at Schrödinger, a company that produces computational chemistry software. Currently, he is a senior scientist and technical lead for the Schrödinger Materials Science Suite, which began in 2012. The Suite is used by companies for materials design in industries such as OLED, aerospace, food, computers, automotive and tire, and batteries to name a few. Over the years, Giesen has accumulated 37 publications and 11 patents. He currently lives in Rochester, NY, with his wife Kerrie, a University alumna and a former Department of Chemistry stockroom employee, and their two teen-aged daughters.

Past Winners

2018 - 17th symposium
Kajari Bera
Beth Dewing
Anna Luke
Craig Van Bruggen

2017 - 16th symposium
James Brooks
Xin Chen
Guilhem De Hoe
Shuangning Xu

2016 - 15th symposium
Junwei Bao
Zachary Gilbert
Cecilia Hall
Steven Kirberger

2015 – 14th symposium
Debanjan Dhar
Chad Hoyer
Jinbo Hu
Megan Weisenberger

2014 – 13th symposium
Rebecca Mackenzie
Jennifer Strehlau
Sarah Wegwerth
Xiaojie Wu

2013 – 12th symposium
Katie Hurley
Mayank Puri
Amanda Steming
Ellis Warner

2012 – 11th symposium
Maria Miranda
Brian Woods
Sijie Luo
Stephen Rudisill

2011 – 10th symposium
Joshua Speros
Bess Vlaisavljevich
Christopher Zal

2010 – 9th symposium
M. Zahid Ertem
Giang Hoang
David Josephson
Melissa Maurer-Jones
Eric Olsen

2009 – 8th symposium
Melissa Fierke
Aalo Gupta
Kyle Schwartz

2008 – 7th symposium
Erick Leggans
Anne Mohns
Alexi Young

2007 – 6th symposium
Fan Li
Rongxiao Sa
Scott Thorgaard
Dong Wang

2006 – 5th symposium
Renee Mosing
Betsy Edhlund
Aaron May

2005 – 4th symposium
Ce Wang
Nathaniel Lynd
Aleksey Kurdyumov
Eric Klinker

2004 - 3rd symposium
Dwight Stoll
Amanda Nienow
Angela DeGreeff

2003 - 2nd symposium
Jessica Allen
Joseph Fritsch
Curtiss Hella

2002 - 1st symposium
Daron Janzen
Anne Reynolds
Xigin Yan

Herbert M Hanson Jr Hall (Hanson Hall)