Student Poster Days Showcase Young Minds

By Marsha Nelson-Duncan, Guest Writer; photos by Richard Frederickson, Staff Photographer, and Rich Folkers, Communications Manager
Scientific Library poster at Student Poster Day

Frank Blanchard, director, Public Affairs and Communications, with Werner H. Kirsten interns Kaylee Towey and Julianne Heberlein.

Each year, two Student Poster Days—one at the NCI at Frederick campus and one on the Bethesda campus—give students a chance to showcase the work they do in NCI and NIH labs and offices. NCI at Frederick’s event was held in the Building 549 lobby, while the Bethesda poster day was held at the Natcher Conference Center in Building 45 on NIH’s main campus.

Participants included interns in the Student Internship Program, a program designed for undergraduate and graduate students on summer break, and students who were accepted into the Werner H. Kirsten Student Internship Program (WHK SIP) for high school seniors. While mentors and others working in the labs were available to help if requested with poster creation, the students were on their own when it came to presenting.   

Though it may sound easy to present a poster, anyone who has ever done so knows that it is a challenging endeavor. No matter how many times you have presented your work, it can still be intimidating to talk with people you don’t know, especially to scientists who have been running their own labs for years.

Yet no matter how nervous some of the interns were at the start of the session, they were all able to explain their work and its importance, and by the end of the session, their presentations had been fine-tuned.

Many interns spoke about the work they were doing in the labs, but students working in scientific communication, data analysis, and bioinformatics also presented posters. The opportunities available to students have expanded over the last few years, and NCI needs people who excel at math, statistics, computer science, writing, technology, and data analysis. Being able to communicate current research is quickly becoming as important as doing the research itself.

As always, the student poster day successfully highlighted the work being done by NCI interns—and after attending, it’s easy to see why the student internship programs are so important. The knowledge and experience gained at NCI makes the future that much brighter for the students while also paving the way for future scientific discovery.

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