Undergraduate Presentation Information
Undergraduate Research Awards
All students who are presenting in an undergraduate-only research session are eligible to receive special recognition for their research at the Future of Physics Days (FPD) Undergraduate Awards Event.
About Future of Physics Days Events
Undergraduate Abstract Submission
To submit your abstract to the Undergraduate Research session, be sure to select the “Undergraduate Research” category when submitting your abstract.
APS Abstract Submission Instructions
FPD Travel Awards
All presenting students (even those participating in general sessions) are eligible for the FPD Scholar Travel Award, in the amount of $1,000.
About FPD Travel Awards
So You Want to Present at an APS Meeting?
Attendance at APS physics meetings can range from a few hundred to nearly 10,000 physicists (such as at the annual March Meeting). By choosing to present your research at the Meetings, you are making the valuable contribution of your own research findings to the scientific community, and participating in an important scientific dialog with your colleagues.
At the same time, you are also taking advantage of a great opportunity to learn about current research, experience an important part of science culture, and make great connections with students, mentors — or even potential future employers.
Oral Vs. Poster Sessions
Both March and April meetings include oral and poster research sessions, which happen in parallel sessions throughout the day. Each oral session takes place in one of the meeting rooms at the convention center or hotel, and consists of a series of individual talks which are twelve minutes in duration. An oral presentation has the following characteristics:
- presentation given by only one speaker, who stands in front of an audience
- the talk is given using a set of slides (Power Point or similar program)
- the talk is time-limited, with about 1-2 minutes of Q&A available at the end
Disadvantages of Oral Presentations: very little time to establish context for the research (e.g. motivations, background), very little opportunity for in-depth discussion of results with colleagues, unnerving for those who dislike presenting to larger groups.
The poster sessions at the APS Annual Meetings typically happen in large time blocks, usually in the afternoon. Speakers are expected to stand near their posters for the duration of the session and speak about their research. Poster presentations have the following characteristics:
- speaker interacts with audience one-on-one, answering questions as they arise
- talks are given with the use of a 36" by 48" poster, which is tacked to a freestanding grey board
- talks are not time-limited; discussions can continue as long as the speaker and audience desire
Advantages of Poster Sessions: more in-depth (possibly more enjoyable) discussion of research with colleagues, more comfortable for those who dislike speaking to larger groups.
Disadvantages of Poster Sessions: time commitment is longer (most sessions run about three hours), potentially smaller audience than oral sessions.
Undergrad Vs. General Sessions
At the APS Meetings, undergraduates have the option of presenting either in a general session (which will also include talks from non-student meeting attendees), or in an undergraduate-only session.
Advantages of speaking in an Undergrad session (as opposed to General): you are eligible for a Undergraduate Research Award (see Grey Box for more detail), talks are potentially less intimidating (given a primarily undergraduate audience).
Disadvantages of speaking in an Undergrad session (as opposed to General): audience is slightly more limited (primarily undergraduates and their mentors), less opportunity to learn about other research in your specific field (the Undergraduate sessions are general-topic), less opportunity to network with researchers working in your specific field.
As you can see, there are a number of factors to weigh when deciding which session you'd like to present in. Either choice represents an important opportunity to develop yourself professionally — so be confident in whichever direction you choose to go. If you do decide on the undergraduate-only session, be sure to submit your abstract under the category “Undergraduate Research” (Category 26.2 for the March Meeting, Category “N” for the April Meeting).
Other Resources for Perfecting Your Presentation
As you'll no doubt discover, many students attending the meeting dress fairly casually. However, making a point of dressing nicely while giving your talk not only adds a polished touch to your presentation, but it also conveys to your audience that you take pride in your work, and that you are capable of participating in professional interactions. After all, you never know who might be in that audience — and a future employer (especially one in the private sector) would not be impressed by a shabbily-dressed speaker.
The oral presentations run under a very tight schedule, so it is very important that you are able to load and display your slides in a timely manner once your turn has come. You must come to your oral presentation session with one of the following:
- a laptop that contains your talk, with the appropriate adapter to connect to standard VGA cables (dongles, etc.), OR
- a USB memory stick containing your talk
Every APS Meeting provides a speaker ready room, which you can use to test the compatibility between your laptop and memory stick with the meeting room AV system. You should definitely take a moment while at the meeting to visit this room, test out your equipment, and familiarize yourself with the setup.
Webinars about Improving Your Undergraduate Research Presentation
APS and SPS have teamed up host a webinar for undergraduates attending APS annual meetings. You can view the webinar for free by visiting the webpage listed below.
Attend Your Session
Come early and introduce yourself to the session chair. It is polite for you to attend your entire session, so be attentive from the first talk through to the last. If something prevents you from staying for the full session, you should be certain at least one speaker before your scheduled talk.