Next Generation Scientists Showcase Research in the National Science Foundation's First Online Poster Competition

May 5, 2011



CAMBRIDGE, MA–The 2011 Poster Competition showcasing the interdisciplinary research of 135 emerging scientists is taking place online May 3rd-6th. Fifty faculty judges from universities around the country will score posters and audio presentations and select 20 finalists. Members of the IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) community will select an additional four finalists through online community choice voting. All finalists will present their research and participate in a day of career advancement at the National Science Foundation on May 25th in Washington DC. The finalists will be announced on May 6th. The competition is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and facilitated by—a project run by TERC, a nonprofit education research and development organization.

The public can view the posters at and get a glimpse at how these early career scientists and engineers are addressing complex research problems of significant scientific and societal importance. Topics span chemistry, biology, engineering, nanotechnology, geoscience, economics, energy, the social sciences and more. For example, there are posters that address research on malaria, photovoltaics, brain function, and genomes.

“Creating this online poster competition platform has allowed us to think about innovative ways to enrich traditional poster sessions,” says Principal Investigator Joni Falk. “We had several goals in mind when designing it. We wanted to facilitate a rich scientific dialogue between judges and presenters and between members of the IGERT community. We also knew that the online format could enable broader participation among IGERT graduate students and faculty. Last, we wanted to provide the members of the public, industry, and potential employers with an online venue to learn about these emerging scholars and their research. I am very pleased that in the first day of the competition, more than 600 IGERT members and over 3,000 unique visitors have taken part.”

The platform designed and facilitated at TERC allows the public to both view the posters and hear the presenter describe their research. Visitors to the site can search by keyword, state, and research institution. Members of the IGERT community, including graduate students, faculty, project coordinators, and related NSF staff, see a customized view that allows them to easily interact with each other—providing comments, sending queries, participating in live chat, and voting for posters that are most meritorious. Customized activity feeds alert judges, members, and presenters when relevant new content is posted and enables them to track their activity throughout the competition. The dialogue to date has reflected deep engagement, inquiry, and reflection by members of the community.

IGERT is the National Science Foundation’s flagship interdisciplinary training program, educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers by building on the foundations of their disciplinary knowledge with interdisciplinary training. Collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries and requires teamwork provides students with the preparation to solve large and complex research problems of significant scientific and societal importance at the national and international level. Since 1998, the IGERT program has made 260 awards to over 110 lead universities in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. IGERT has provided funding for nearly 5,000 graduate students.

About provides comprehensive information about NSF’s flagship IGERT program and about each of its actively funded projects. It serves as both a virtual resource center and a collegial network for the IGERT community. IGERT trainees, alumni, faculty, and partners share resources, research, presentations, best practices, career opportunities, and conferences with each other. also provides a vehicle for national dissemination of interdisciplinary graduate education program models that support innovative environments, research, and contributions that address the complex problems of our time. In addition, it allows prospective students and industry partners to learn about IGERT programs and opportunities that match their interests.

TERC developed and facilitates and the 2011 Poster Competition with funding from the National Science Foundation (DGE-0834992). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. TERC is a nonprofit education research and development organization located in Cambridge, MA. Founded in 1965, TERC is dedicated to improving mathematics and science education.