August 26, 2015

AGU #VirtualPoster Showcase – a conference option for students

Posted by Laura Guertin

The Virtual Poster Showcase ( is a new opportunity provided by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) that allows undergraduate and graduate students to present their research virtually, alleviating any need to travel. Students not only get valuable feedback on their science, but also gain experience in reviewing the research of other students. This affordable and accessible option is ideal for students, and can help build their academic resume.



Why have a Virtual Poster Showcase

Before I explore more of the “what” of the Virtual Poster Showcase, let’s review the “why” this option is needed for and welcomed by students and faculty mentors. Note that the Virtual Poster Showcase is not meant to replace the face-to-face conference opportunity. We all know and agree that being present at a meeting not only benefits students during their presentations, but there are so many additional conference components and networking opportunities that aren’t quite available in the online world (yet). But not all students can get to a conference because of financial reasons, personal reasons (family, health, etc.), and I have even had students refuse to miss classes or final exams to attend AGU. Faculty mentors are also challenged securing funding for conference travel for students, especially if students were summer researchers from another university and/or have transferred to another institution, therefore no longer students at the faculty mentor’s home campus.

Another “positive” for having the Virtual Poster Showcase is to provide an opportunity for summer student researchers. Students that have just completed summer research experiences (REUs, research on campus or at field sites, etc.) may not have wrapped up their work by the deadline to submit an abstract to the AGU Fall Meeting, but can now present their finalized results at the Virtual Poster Showcase. In conversation with Pranoti Asher, AGU’s Education and Public Outreach Manager, she also mentioned that students that completed summer research at national laboratories may have presented their work at their summer site, but the Virtual Poster Showcase allows for their results to be presented “beyond the walls of the federal agency.”

In a nutshell, the AGU Virtual Poster Showcase is accessible to all students – all class years, from any location. And the student does not need to be an AGU member to participate (there is a $35 abstract fee, but no other fees for participation).

What happens during a Virtual Poster Showcase

The AGU Virtual Poster Showcase website is very detailed with step-by-step instructions and deadlines to keep in mind. As with any conference, the first step is to prepare the abstract. The website also suggests additional resources to consult for abstract writing. After the abstract is written and uploaded, then students start preparing a poster and video. The poster is prepared just as a student would if he/she were attending the conference in person, but the poster is uploaded as a PDF on the Virtual Poster Showcase website. Then, a student creates a short video, no more than five minutes in length, describing the poster. With the video and poster uploaded, the showcase enters a peer and expert judging phase (the judging rubric is online). This period of asynchronous questioning and commenting goes on for at least ten days.

Finally, one grand prize student winner is determined for the Virtual Poster Showcase, as well as each AGU division determining a student winner. All students will receive a certificate of participation, with the grand prize winner receiving free registration to the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting and funding towards lodging and airfare.

Note that all abstracts will each have their own citation that will be in a searchable database. The videos of the student presentation will not be publicly viewable (only students and judges will be able to enter the Virtual Poster Showcase), except the posters and videos of the grand prize and division winners will be made accessible for all to view..

Timeline for participation

Note that there are THREE Virtual Poster Showcases being held this fall! The first Virtual Poster Showcase is accepting abstracts from August 31 to September 18 and is open to undergraduate student presenters only. The second and third Virtual Poster Showcases (one for undergraduate students, the other for graduate students) are being held in conjunction with the AGU Student & Early Career Scientist Conference and accepting abstracts September 28 to October 12.

The full timeline for abstracts, uploading posters/videos, and judging can be found on the Virtual Poster Showcase website – be sure to check it out and mark these deadlines on your calendar!

Follow the hashtag #VirtualPoster on social media to keep on top of announcements, updates, and more. And keep your eyes and ears out for a full virtual conference that AGU is planning.

To learn more about the event from 2014, check out this EOS article titled “Virtual Poster Showcase at 2014 AGU Fall Meeting.”