5 things you learn as an Expo judge

On April 13 and 14, UAB will host its 10th annual Spring Expo, where hundreds of undergraduates each summarize months of research and scholarship in a poster and a short, snappy talk. During the past decade, the event has grown exponentially; it now consumes the entire Hill Student Center Ballroom, plus much of the rest of the building’s third floor.

That means the need for judges keeps growing as well. Any staff member, plus faculty, graduate students and post-docs, can apply to participate. There is no pay, but the perks are great: free parking, access to an expansive spread from Hill Center restaurant Panera Bread — and a chance to look into the future.

Several longtime judges recently shared why they take part in the Expo, and why you should, too.

etch1It will remind you why UAB is a special place to work

“Being a judge is inspiring. Especially if you’re not interacting with students on a regular basis, this is a chance to learn about all the amazing work that our undergraduates are doing, all over the world.” — Megan Talpash, coordinator, UAB Education Abroad

“What strikes me the most is the quality and diversity of undergraduate research occurring across UAB’s campus. Our students are really participating in exciting and cutting-edge research.” – Ted Bertrand, Ph.D., associate professor in Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences and assistant dean for undergraduate research in the School of Health Professions

etch 2You are helping students grow

“Both preparing for and during the Expo students learn critical and useful skills for both graduate school and their careers, such as abstract writing and submission, academic and professional poster design, oral presentation delivery, verbal/non-verbal communicative skills — even what is appropriate attire for these types of events. I wish I had had an opportunity like this when I was an undergrad!” — Lourdes Sánchez-López, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish

“I always encourage faculty to get more of their students involved in the Expo. It’s a great way for students to learn how to disseminate information about their work, and especially how to be concise, to explain the most important information in three to five minutes.” —Sallie Shipman, Ed.D., instructor, School of Nursing

etch3You will discover more about your campus — and city

“Given my work with the Benevolent Fund, I am drawn to research involving local nonprofits and enjoy seeing the connections between UAB and our community. I am especially excited when I see student research that nonprofits can use to improve the programs they offer to our community.” — Lisa Higginbotham, program manager, UAB Benevolent Fund

“When I first got to UAB, judging the Expo was a good way to find out what type of research was being done outside my home department.” — Nicole Riddle, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology

etch4The life you change may be your own

 “As an educator, I’m constantly looking for new ideas, new approaches, fresh ways to help my students learn. You can say, ‘Wow, this clearly worked for these students, I’ll try it with mine.’” — Sallie Shipman

“I always learn something new, from being exposed to a new topic area, to meeting a potential new collaborator.” — Ted Bertrand

“Serving as a judge for the Expo is a good CV builder, as it shows engagement with the larger university community. I encourage graduate students and post-docs to serve as judges as it will really help them improve their CV.” — Nicole Riddle

etch5The only qualification you need is an open mind 

“When I first was assigned a research project outside my comfort zone, I was very worried that I would not be able to fairly judge it. I inquired and was reassured that students should be able to explain their research in a way anyone can understand. Now, I enjoy judging research outside my area of expertise because I learn something new every time. I ask students a variety of questions to help me understand what they are trying to achieve and it helps me gauge which students grasp the larger picture of how their research will impact our world.” — Lisa Higginbotham

“The posters one judges represent a much broader subject area than the subfield I typically read about or am exposed to at conferences. I often come away from the Expo having learned an interesting new fact.” – Nicole Riddle


To become a judge at the 10th annual Spring Expo of undergraduate research and scholarship, register online today.