Celebration of Student Scholarship adapts to online format


Photo courtesy of the McNair Scholars Program

Rayna Sherbinow

The 25th annual Celebration of Student Scholarship (CSC) is being postponed until next year in favor of a modified event, the NMU Student Research Week Online. Graduate and undergraduate students share posters, presentations, artwork and essays during the event—which is usually held in person. The CSC is an annual event sponsored by the NMU Office of Academic Affairs, the College of Graduate Education and Research and the McNair Scholars Program. 

The online event occurs April 20-24 to coincide with National Undergraduate Research Week. Heather Pickett, director of the McNair Scholars Program, said despite the name, graduate and undergraduate students are all welcome to participate.

“I think it’s easy to feel a little sadness at the loss of this event for this year, but there are a lot of ways this will make all of us better at what we do,” she said. “Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and I think NMU students will use this opportunity to create and refine the way they connect and communicate.”

Pickett said some changes are being made to how students will present their projects in the online format. Students can now submit their abstracts as an electronic poster, a three-minute talk over one PowerPoint slide or a maximum five-page essay.

Pickett said she hopes the accessibility of the online celebration will encourage more engagement from the public and help students connect with graduate faculty and potential employers. 

Sierra Gillman is a graduate student in the Biology Department. She will be presenting on the gut microbiome of UP black bears. She said adapting to the online learning environment is both challenging and rewarding.

“For example, I just had to defend my thesis all over Zoom from my kitchen,” she said. “It was a very weird experience at first, but because it was all online, friends/family that wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to watch due to being out of state got to be a part, and that was really special for me.”

Gillman sees the same potential for a wider audience during Student Research Week. She said she has learned to practice her presentation beforehand and keep the content engaging and simple.

“You might not be there to explain everything so you want your data/background/results to be easily digestible for everyone,” she said.

Student abstracts will be available for viewing from April 20-24 at https://www.nmu.edu/studentcelebration/. More information on submitting an abstract is also available on the website.