In a year that challenged the way in which we host events, Catharine Parr Traill College took a new approach to adapting two of the most popular graduate student competitions into engaging virtual events.
“These competitions are about showing that we are here and we are doing wonderful things at Trent University,” says Dr. Michael Eamon, principal of Traill College. “They essentially serve as a sampler of the exemplary work being done by our graduate students. It’s so important to show that this pandemic has not quailed our curiosity, restrained our research, or curtailed our ability to communicate.”
Tom Talks inspires rich conversation
Preserving the longest-running student-led seminar series of its kind in North America – the Symons Seminar Series for Graduate Research – Tom Talks was created to bridge the gap between the sciences and humanities by encouraging rich, interdisciplinary conversation. It is named in honour of Trent’s founding president, Tom Symons, who passed away earlier this year. Four Tom Talks episodes were broadcast during the course of the spring, allowing each participant 15 minutes in which to present their research in an engaging way.
This year’s winner was Roya Ghahremani, with a presentation titled Unbridled Potential: Equine Assisted Learning for Resiliency Building, with Victoria Kennedy taking second place with a presentation titled Euglena gracilis: The Microscopic Metalhead.
The2is – short presentations on big ideas
Traill also launched the new The2is competition (pronounced “thesis”), with the “two is” being the key differentiator between this new competition and the popular Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition. This year, students had just two minutes and two slides during which to present their research to a general audience.
“The2is is our homegrown solution to the 3MT competition, offering more flexibility and opportunity for students to really be creative in how they share their often complex research,” says Professor Eamon. “Participants were encouraged to use music and up to one prop to support their presentation.”
Trent’s graduate students did not disappoint, and the judging panel, Martin Yuill, seasoned entrepreneur, business mentor and Cleantech Commons executive director, alongside Cam Douglas, renowned teacher and director of the Youth Leadership in Sustainability program, had quite the challenge to select this year’s winners. Since the competition is aimed at presenting research to a general audience, there was also a Viewers’ Choice Prize. Nayomi S. Camilus won both the Traill College Grand Prize and the Trent Graduate Students' Association Viewers’ Choice Prize, with Beatriz Bento winning the School of Graduate Studies Runner-up Prize.
“These two competitions are really two sides of the same coin,” explains Prof. Eamon. “Both are an opportunity to build skills around communicating your research. Through The2is our graduate students learn to describe their research and its larger importance, concisely in language accessible and engaging to a non-specialist audience. Tom Talks, on the other hand, gives them 15 minutes to really get into the meat of their research in more of a seminar setting.”
You can watch this year’s Tom Talks and The2is recordings on the Traill College YouTube channel.