More than 130 joined a limited in-person group in UConn Health’s academic rotunda for the 38th annual Biomedical Science Program Graduate Student Research Day.
On a warm mid-summer day, the lights of the Academic Rotunda dimmed, and a limited live audience took a collective masked and socially distanced breath as Graduate Student Research Day (GSRD) returned as an in-person event for the first time in two years. In cyberspace, an additional 130-plus attended the annual celebration of the research accomplishments of biomedical science students in the Graduate School programs at UConn Health.
The pandemic forced the paring down of last year’s event to online-only oral presentations by a student representative of each the seven biomedical science areas of concentration and the Lepow Award winner from the previous year. For the 38th annual event on Aug. 5, the keynote speaker was reinstated, and all presentations were able to be given to a live audience in a hybrid format. While the poster session and student luncheon components continue to be paused due to ongoing COVID restrictions, across the board, participants felt that having even a portion of the event live was well worth it.
“I actually had fun getting to present in front of real people for the first time in a year and a half,” said Corie Owen, incoming Graduate Student Organization (GSO) president and winner of this year’s oral presentation award. “Zoom talks get the job done, but it can be tough presenting at your computer screen without getting to see people’s facial cues to determine if they are following or not. Being able to present in front of people again reminded me why I love presenting, even with all of the nerves!”
Neuroscience student Ramalakshmi Ramasamy agreed, saying, “Presenting in person before a crowd after such a long break felt really stressful, but I think this is the first step in getting back to ‘normal,’ and it felt great after the presentation.”
Students also have been keenly aware of the lack of opportunities for social interaction among their peers.