My First Poster

So a good portion of my life this semester (Spring 2014) was consumed with the assembly of my first poster with my student co-author Adam Catching, and our VERY patient advisor, Dr. Anna Petrova-Mayor. WOW, that was a lot of work. Walking down the halls of the physics department you will find these posters all over the walls. It is all research done by students and their faculty advisors. They are simple looking, just a few equations, some diagrams or photos, and a couple of paragraphs. I used to wonder what the big deal was about them. It isn’t like they were writing a paper. HAHAHA, I was fooled. I am sure writing a good scientific paper is more difficult, BUT, putting together a poster is no walk in the park either. At least not the first time you try it.
Why? Well, you work for months on a piece of research. Months. It takes time to figure out if your question is a valid one and if so, you can only hope that it is answerable within your allotted time frame. Here you get to play with theory for a while. What should happen? Then you have to figure out how best to go about answering your question with your restrictions… mainly, that means time, equipment, human work power, and money. Mostly, money. Stupid money. Once you have a plan, you need to develop your experimental protocols and methodology. Then, start building your setup. Once your setup is good to go (not as easy as that) you get to take data. Realize your data sucks and you need to fix/ adjust/ completely redo/ something, and take it again. Eventually, you get good data and you can compare your (hopefully) good theory to your good data and see what the difference is. Finally, it’s time to publish! YEA!
Back to putting that poster together….
Now you get to talk about all that stuff you learned and figured out…. except you have only have just a few equations, some diagrams or photos, and a couple of paragraphs to work with. WHAT!?! How the heck am I supposed to organize and summarize all that STUFF in a way that actually gets the point across in that limited space? Fresnel equations, wave theory, you call that hard? HA! Summarizing all that work… THAT is hard!
Ok, so I am complaining a little. I really had fun with it. And (not supposed to use “And” as the first word in a sentence…. I don’t care… I’m a rebel!) AND, I didn’t actually have to do a lot of that. See, I came into this research project after it was already started. It wasn’t exactly easy to catch up though. I did have to learn the theory and figure out what the heck that thing was on the fancy looking table and how it all worked. That was quite a bit of work and I admit, I took it slowly. Still, I ended up the first author on this poster somehow.
I must extend my thanks to Dr. Anna Petrova-Mayor for allowing me to be active in this research and also to Scott Gimbal for answering all my questions and patiently pointing out that I was trying to figure out stuff he already did. They call that reinventing the wheel I think. THANK YOU!


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