Ways to Share Science at the Spring Research Festival

By Samuel Lopez, staff writer; photos from the SPGM archive
A person speaking to an audience

The Spring Research Festival, Fort Detrick’s annual scientific showcase, is seeking participants.

The two-day festival brings together staff from agencies and institutions located within the fort’s fence to share their research, meet collaborators, hear from colleagues, and find out about new research technologies. This is the event’s 27th year and its second in a mixed on-site and online format.

NCI Frederick and Frederick National Laboratory staff (including those located at the Advanced Technology Research Facility) are encouraged to participate in one or more of the festival’s functions. Registration for participants, namely presenters and judges, is open until April 5.

Participants from any field and at any stage of their careers, including interns and fellows, are welcome. Werner H. Kirsten interns and postbaccalaureate fellows have won awards in past years for their contributions. Groups and laboratories also have the option to sponsor and staff a booth.

Participation Opportunities

Participants can share their work by submitting one or more posters to the poster display. All posters—there’s a limit of 100 this year—will be hung in a gallery during both days of the festival, the same as one might find at a scientific conference. Judges will rate each poster on several criteria. The most outstanding entries will receive awards.

More importantly, the poster display is a chance for scientists to explain findings and meet fellow researchers. Late morning and early afternoon have tended to be when most gather at the posters.

For participants interested in giving a short lecture, there’s the additional option to join the poster blitz. Those who do will have three to five minutes to explain one of their posters to an audience. The format can be challenging, but the idea is to give others an overview that sparks further discussion.

Spots in the blitz are limited. Each presentation will also be judged, with awards subsequently bestowed on participants with the highest scores.

Young investigators and early-career scientists have one additional opportunity to lecture—via the young investigator symposium. Participants will each have 12 minutes to showcase their research, with an additional three minutes to take questions from the audience.

In the large festival setting, the symposium gives less-experienced scientific staff a chance to stand out, be heard, receive feedback, and interact with potential collaborators and mentors. Spots for the symposium are limited. Like the blitz, the lectures will be judged for awards.

Spectator Opportunities

Anyone who prefers not to participate can still join in as a spectator. (Participants can also attend events during the festival.) Registration for attendees and spectators will remain open through the event.

Spectators can watch the poster blitz and young investigator symposium either in person or via Webex. The poster display will be open only to in-person attendees.

In addition, spectators can attend the keynote lecture, to be delivered by Kedar Narayan, Ph.D., senior scientist and group lead at the Center for Molecular Microscopy. Narayan will speak on-site at NCI Frederick, but a video feed will be broadcast online for those who can’t attend in person.

The collaborative research opportunity showcase will also be held on-site and simultaneously videocast. This series of lectures encompasses ongoing research projects with possibilities for collaborating across institutions and agencies. The projects represent agencies participating in the National Interagency Confederation for Biomedical Research, an association of federal groups cooperating in science. The goal of the showcase is to forge connections that lead to partnerships.

Finally, the vendor exhibit will return this year. Representatives from science and technology companies will bring equipment, information, and products for display. The result is a large, convention-style expo full of booths, demonstrations, and conversations. There will also be booths sponsored by groups and agencies that are part of the confederation.

Past attendees have described the vendor exhibit as a chance to see desired products firsthand—and to stumble across things they didn’t expect to find. Attendance this year will be in-person only, although a map of the expo is online and being updated regularly.

While online options offer additional flexibility, some online-only spectators have previously remarked that attending in person would’ve helped them connect better. On-site attendance is highly recommended for those wanting the full experience.

For more information, see the Spring Research Festival website. Questions can be directed to the Spring Research Festival administrator.

The Spring Research Festival is sponsored by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command and the Military & Health Research Foundation.

Order of Events

Wednesday, April 24

Poster Display
Community Activities Center, Fort Detrick

9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
In-person only

Vendor Exhibit
Odom Fitness Center, Fort Detrick

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
In-person only

Keynote Lecture
Building 549 Auditorium, NCI Frederick Campus

10 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Collaborative Research Opportunity Showcase
Building 549 Auditorium, NCI Frederick Campus

1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 25

Poster Blitz
Building 549 Auditorium, NCI Frederick Campus

8 a.m. – 10 a.m.

Poster Display
Community Activities Center, Fort Detrick

9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
In-person only

Vendor Exhibit
Odom Fitness Center, Fort Detrick

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
In-person only

Young Investigator Symposium
Building 549 Auditorium, NCI Frederick Campus

1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

The following agencies and organizations will be among those at the festival:

  • U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command
  • Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (Department of Homeland Security Federally Funded Research and Development Center)
  • National Cancer Institute
  • Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (NCI Federally Funded Research and Development Center)
  • Integrated Research Facility, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
  • Biological Defense Research Directorate, Naval Medical Research Command


Samuel Lopez leads the editorial team in Scientific Publications, Graphics & Media (SPGM). He writes for newsletters; informally serves as an institutional historian; and edits scientific manuscripts, corporate documents, and sundry other written media. SPGM is the creative services department and hub for editing, illustration, graphic design, formatting, multimedia, and training in these areas.