In mid-April, I was privileged to attend the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Sciences. At this conference, I was able to share my research from the last year as a poster presentation. I was able to intellectually discuss my work with other students and professors as they circulated. There was opportunity for my own critical thinking as I answered questions posed by others unfamiliar to my research. I was enlightened to flaws, inconsistencies, or modifications that could affect the efficiency or reliability of my work.
Professionals with different research background or training were able to offer a fresh perspective while critically analyzing my work. I received suggestions for procedure modifications and different ways to form control groups that could provide novel insight into the results. All of the discussions I had will play into the way we design the experiment for future semesters.
Attending this conference allowed me to gain valuable professional skills in numerous areas, including sharing my work and networking with other professionals. I was the only student from Messiah College, so I was forced to meet other researchers, especially over meals. I conversed with a few graduate students, which was very helpful in seeing what my future could look like. Further, they were extremely supportive of my undergraduate work and encouraging about my ability to express it well.
At this conference, I was able to learn about a few areas of emerging behavioral research and evaluate potential projects for when I enter graduate school. Additionally, in a career of research, I will inevitably have to present my work at conferences. Starting now at Messiah, with mentors and advisors who can guide me in proper etiquette, is a safe and beneficial experience. Furthermore, having the experience of this conference listed on my resume will make me look appealing to graduate school admissions committees and future employers; they will know that I already have some degree of training and experience, so I may rank higher on the list of prospective employees and interns. Attending this conference has helped me to feel much more confident as I leave Messiah and enter my future career full of research.