Take one brilliant idea, with a multitude of complexities, distill it into a 3-minute pitch with one slide to wow judges who could help catapult your career, and you’ve got the CSU vice president for research’s 3-Minute Challenge.
No pressure, right? Yet, that’s the opportunity 27 CSU graduate students signed up for in the annual event, scheduled for 1 p.m. MT on Feb. 14 via Zoom (zoom.us/j/91399791924#success). Twelve to 15 students will prevail to become VPR Fellows in 2022-23. With victory comes prestige in CSU’s research community as well as perks like funding for research and travel, mentorship services and interdisciplinary collaborations and relationships.
“For our graduate students, this is a golden moment. The opportunity to communicate the impacts of their work clearly and concisely will help to advance their careers and train them in an important need for scientists to communicate to a broad audience. The winners of the challenge are offered resources to extend their voice in attending conferences and communicate on their research,” said Alan Rudolph, vice president for research.
The annual competition is free and open to the public.
The event allows students to learn and practice presenting their research to general audiences with no prior experience of the topic. Contestants and the panel of judges come from various backgrounds and disciplines. To help refine their presentation skills and understand what judges are really seeking, entrants were sent a video to help prepare.
“It was a really good experience, and it’s a good opportunity to learn more about your research and gain skills like presenting. I learned how to present my project in a way that everyone can understand, even if they were not in the field,” said Allie Kohler, a 2021-22 VPR Fellow and a graduate student studying ecology.
Presenters spend weeks preparing for the competition, using strategic titles and precise words. They are allowed only one chance to record their virtual presentations, which are later posted.
Kohler offered advice for students vying for a spot in next year’s cohort of fellows: “I would say start early. Practice a lot, and if you can, you should get feedback from people you know. I know a lot of times people just present on their own and they do not ask other people for too much feedback but presenting in front of others can be really helpful and give you better chances of winning the competition.”
Winners of the 3-Minute Challenge will have the opportunity to become part of the 2022-23 VPR Graduate Fellows Program, a mentorship program created by the vice president for research. This fellowship allows graduate students to learn professionalism and understand what their research may look like outside of the classroom. Throughout the academic year, monthly workshops are held enhancing the VPR Fellows’ skills and strengths.
Fellows are eligible to receive up to $4,000 in scholarship and travel support. They receive stipends of $1,250 in spring and fall semesters, and up to $1,500 in travel reimbursement for scholarly conferences they attend and present.
“It is a little community we have. In the VPR Fellows program, we’re learning a lot of material that people don’t traditionally teach you unless you seek it out. Fellowship is giving us an opportunity to learn more about how to succeed in an academic setting,” said Kayna Hobbs-Murphy, a doctoral student in Occupational Health-ergonomics.
In the future, the VPR Fellowship will evolve with CSU’s Anschutz Graduate Fellowship Program. Over the next two years, The Anschutz Foundation will fund $1.4 million in research at CSU for pandemic preparedness research. Taken together, these are programs to select and equip graduate students with training and professional relationships to help propel their early careers.
Virtual 3-Minute Challenge
Date: Monday, Feb. 14
Time: 1 p.m. MT
Zoom information: zoom.us/j/91399791924#success