Princeton Research Day endorses a simple message: Make your research and creative work relatable so that you can share it with others.
The event is the University’s signature campus-wide opportunity for early career researchers — undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral associates and others — to present their work and creative performances to audiences outside their field of specialty.
This year’s Princeton Research Day is scheduled to be held in person May 5. Throughout the spring, presenters will prepare short videos to be submitted by April 27 and shared widely online starting April 29. The top videos will then receive prizes at the May 5 event, which will also feature poster presentations.
The portal for video submissions opens March 28.
The event’s emphasis is on explaining scholarship in everyday language, enabling presenters to find common ground with non-specialist audiences and inviting a broad understanding of what are sometimes quite sophisticated concepts.
Three minutes to shine
Princeton Research Day (PRD) started in 2016. With the pandemic, organizers shifted the format for 2020 and 2021 from in-person presentations to self-produced three-minute videos, embodied in the event’s slogan, “Three minutes to shine.” The online videos are made available to audiences around the world. The videos highlight the breadth of projects undertaken at Princeton, from the Lewis Center for the Arts to the School of Architecture to the Department of Molecular Biology and more.
This year’s online and live components will make it the first hybrid Princeton Research Day.
“When we started Princeton Research Day, we had no idea it would grow into the campus tradition that it has become,” said Dean for Research Pablo G. Debenedetti, the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science and professor of chemical and biological engineering. “If anything, the pandemic led us to adapt the event in ways that made it more accessible to the broader community, both within and outside Princeton. The online format makes it easy for audiences around the world to learn about our exciting research and creative endeavors.”
In a sign of the event’s priority for the University, the offices of six campus entities are sponsoring PRD 2022, including the offices of the Dean for Research, Dean of the College, Dean of the Faculty, Dean of the Graduate School, Provost, and, newly on-board for 2022, the Vice President for Campus Life.
The team leading PRD operations consists of Karla Ewalt, senior associate dean for research, Office of the Dean for Research; Judy Jarvis director of Wintersession and Campus Engagement, Office of the Vice President for Campus Life; Christine Murphy, assistant dean for academic affairs, Office of the Dean of the Graduate School; and Pascale Poussart, director of undergraduate research, Office of the Dean of the College.
Preparing your video
The PRD website has opened with links to workshop tutorials on preparing your video, an introduction to public speaking, visualizing your ideas, and others, along with information and links for registration.
Here are several key dates for participants:
- March 28: Three-minute video submission portal opens.
- April 27 at 5 p.m.: Final video submission deadline for award consideration.
- April 29: PRD 2022 videos posted online for viewing and judging.
- May 5: Princeton Research Day 2022 in-person event and award ceremony.
Last year’s winners displayed an impressive level of creative expression that captured the range of research and projects across Princeton’s campus. The videos underscore the value of articulating and condensing one’s research for an audience of non-experts, according to participants.
“When you are running through a forest of literature for your research, reading paper after paper, it's all too easy to become out of touch,” said André Luiz Koch Liston, Class of 2023 and a chemistry concentrator, who won an Orange and Black Undergraduate Award for his video on iridium photocatalysis. “So, having the chance to present my work to a non-specialist audience forced me to think about the greater significance of my work — why it really matters on a practical level and what made it purposeful to me in the first place.”
“Architects are usually big thinkers but don't deliver practical solutions. My partner and I received a lot of great questions during PRD, mainly about the next steps of our big plastic removal vision, and what are the most viable/affordable ways to market this idea,” said Liu.
“We luckily met many great teammates down the road, who are also passionate to bring our big vision into reality,” she added. “Recently, we just finished our first field deployment test in the Delaware River. PRD really challenged the way that we were trained for analyzing and solving a problem, and now we are pushing this idea further.”
'You never know who will be in attendance'
DJ Rasmussen, a postgraduate research associate in the School of Public and International Affairs, won an Orange and Black Presenter Award for his video, “The largest movable structures on Earth could save New York City from another Hurricane Sandy, but will they get built?”
“I believe good science isn't done until it's communicated clearly. While many postdocs may have already presented their research to peers at a dissertation defense, conference or workshop, PRD provides a unique opportunity to speak to the public about what they are studying,” Rasmussen said. “Those up to the challenge of distilling complex concepts to entertaining stories that a broad audience will enjoy are sure to be rewarded.
“You never know who will be in attendance -- an invaluable professional connection, an opportunity to inspire an undergraduate, or even an unlikely future collaborator. Never pass up an opportunity to talk about your research.”
Visit Princeton Research Day for information, important dates and tutorials for participants. The site also features a full showcase of past Princeton Research Day submissions.