Graduate Student Symposium


The annual Graduate Student Symposium provides an opportunity for Western's graduate students to share their research, scholarship, and creative projects with the Western community and the public. Graduate students from all departments are encouraged to present through a variety of mediums, including oral presentations, a poster session, and 3-minute lightning talks or "The Elevator Pitch." Projects do not need to be complete in order to be presented. All sessions are judged by volunteer faculty, staff, and graduate students. Prizes may be awarded to top presenters.

The Graduate Student Symposium began in 2011 as a Graduate Research Conference organized by students and held on a weekend. In 2018, it was reorganized and expanded as the Graduate Student Symposium, held on the Thursday before undergraduate Scholar's Week. In 2019 it became part of Scholar's Week. This collection gathers posters and presentation abstracts from each year's Symposium since 2017.

Oral Presentations: Oral presenters are allotted 10 minute time slots, with an additional 5 minutes for questions and transition. Participants may deliver a paper or talk assisted by a projected presentation. Judging criteria includes quality of the PowerPoint presentation; comprehension, or clarity and ability to answer questions; engagement; and overall quality, including impact and originality.

Poster Presentations: Posters will be displayed throughout the day, and a designated poster session will allow attendees to view displays and interact with student presenters. Judging criteria includes visual quality, quality of project, and quality of presentation.

The Elevator Pitch: Similar to the popular Three-Minute Thesis competition, this presentation format challenges participants to present their research, scholarship and creative projects in just 180 seconds, and in an engaging format that can be understood by an intelligent audience with no background in the presenter’s field of interest. Presenters should be prepared to address the questions and motivations framing their academic interests with the goal of provoking conversations that matter. This exercise develops presentation skills and supports the development of the grad student’s capacity to explain their scholarship effectively and creatively. Rules and judging criteria include:

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any kind are allowed.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum. Competitors exceeding 3 minutes will be penalized.
  • Communication; Comprehension; Engagement; Creativity

Browse the contents of Graduate Student Symposium:

Poster Presentations
Oral Presentations
Lightning Sessions