By Trish Nguyen, Staff Writer—

Each spring, the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavor hosts the ReSEARCH Dialogues,  an academic conference at UTC for students and faculty to present their research.

This year, the conference will be held on April 14 and 15, and presenters can choose to showcase their research in the poster, podium, panel, or performance sessions. 

The conference will also include pitch competitions for undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty, where presenters compete with others in their category to win money for their research.

The pitch competitions feature short presentations of a project to a panel of judges, where presenters “pitch” an overview of their work and why their project deserves the prize.

The conference is open to all students and faculty who register to present, and a presenter can even display multiple projects.

Dr. Azad Hossain is a professor from the Department of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science who was involved with multiple poster presentations and won the $1,500 mini-grant in the Biology and Environmental Science category of the Faculty Elevator Pitch competition. 

“My landslide research that I’m doing, it’s not funded, so I’m trying to get funds,” Dr. Hossain said. 

The award money that he won will provide Dr. Hossain with some money that can help him until he looks for more funds in his research area, he explained.

Dr. Hossain presented his research about landslides in Hamilton County at last year’s ReSEARCH Dialogues, titled “Developing a Model to Map the Potential Areas for Landslide Hazards in Hamilton County, TN using GIS and Remote Sensing.”

Winners have until June of the following year to use their prize money in their research.

In addition to the ability to fund their research with the prize, the pitch competition provides a platform for researchers to present their work to others in the academic community and to be aware of the projects that colleagues are undertaking, Dr. Hossain said. 

Faculty pitches are limited to four minutes, and the presentation itself was limited to four total slides, including the title slide. The undergraduate and graduate-level pitch competitions are even shorter.

The restrictions force presenters to explain complex problems in a broad manner to ensure that all aspects, especially the real-world application, of the research are explained.

“I was eloquent and quick and precise with pointing out the problem and the significance of that progress I made, and, at the same time, the support that I need to move forward. I think those are the key things, and I was able to communicate clearly to the audience,” Dr. Hossain said. “I think that probably helped me to stand out, because all the pitches, you know, they’re all good research. They’re serious research.”

Dr. Hossain has participated in the ReSEARCH Dialogues for three years and has seen a great increase in participation from both students and faculty.

 “At the beginning, a couple of years back, we didn’t really talk about [the ReSEARCH Dialogues], a lot, but these days, I think we talk about it a lot,” Dr. Hossain said. “A number of students are attending more. More faculty participating. I think, last year, I [saw] that while I did the poster presentation.”

For each level of the pitch competitions, three winners are chosen out of all the presenters except for the Faculty Elevator Pitch competition, which awards a fourth grand prize winner.

“Every year, it surprises me in terms of the growth and involvement. I really appreciated that,” Dr. Hossain said, “[You] can get an idea that… people appreciate what you’re doing. It gives you confidence to move forward… as in [doing] something that is significant, and it has practical application in the community.”

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