The Video Research Awards (VRA) is a video presentation competition for undergraduate research students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Why should students enter?

  • Students participating in undergraduate research need to be able to communicate effectively about their work, even as they move on from UAB and head out into their careers.
  • Our office wants to help UAB students present their ideas and tell their stories to people in their respective fields and elsewhere.
  • Cash prize! First place: $1,000, second and third prizes: $500.

Why videos? Short videos are great communication style in today's world of social media, and short presentations are similar to giving a TED talk. Both of these styles are great for talking about your research and why it matters, without overwhelming your audience.

What are the Spring 2021 Deadlines?

  • March 1: Video Submissions open. (submit here)
  • April 9: Submissions close and voting begins.
  • April 12: Online Voting ends and first-round winners are announced.
  • April 22: Final Presentations given at the Spring Virtual Expo.

How it Works

  • Students create two-minute videos summarizing their research.
  • The community votes and the top vote getters move to the second round.
  • Students then present six-minute TED Talk-style talks about their research.
  • The top three students selected by a panel.

Who Can Enter?

Any UAB undergraduate student involved in research in any major. Individual projects or projects you have completed with a professor or inside a lab are eligible. Group projects are also eligible, if you follow the group project checklist:

  • Ensure everyone involved with your project agrees to enter the competition.
  • Members of each group can be involved with making the video. However, only one student should serve as the main speaker in the video, (the "student research communicator"). If the video is selected as a finalist, this student will go on to give the in-person presentation.
  • Before entering, students must agree on how the award money will be divided among members of the group.

How to Submit a Video

You are responsible for the creation of your video and must make it easily available to the public on YouTube. Submit your VRA entry via Google form. There are no format restrictions — you can talk directly to the camera, discuss you work with another person, or even use graphics and animations to make the video visually appealing.

Judging is based on:

  • The hook: Does the student get the audience's attention and make them want to learn more?
  • The narrative: Does the student tell a story of their methods, or where they are going as a researcher?
  • Merit and quality: Do the research methods suggest rigorous or creative work?
  • Accessibility: Is the student targeting a general audience?


All current UAB students are encouraged to vote for their favorite research videos. The three videos that get the most votes, along with the top three videos selected by the panel of judges, will move on tho the final round. These video creators will present their work at the fall Expo.

Video Tips and How-Tos

You can gain insight on how to create a winning video by watching the winners of previous VRA competitions, as well as videos from undergraduate researchers at other universities. You can also explore these resources for guidance:

 Past Videos

  • 2020

    First Place

    Video by Lynne Zhou: "HTLV-1 Virus"

  • 2019

    Monima Aman

    First Place

    Video by Monima Aman: "Virtual Walking for Neuropathic Pain in Spinal Cord Injury"

    Molly Strickland

    Second Place

    Video by Molly Strickland: "Klotho and PSD-95--a science song"

    Karly Casey

    Third Place

    Video by Karly Casey: "Research with lasers is really cool!!"

    Kellan Hyde

    Video by Kellan Hyde: "Business in China"

  • 2018

    Tate Pollock

    First Place

    Video by Tate Pollock: "A King Lab Neuroscience Rap"

    Ryan Murphy

    Second Place

    Video by Ryan Murphy: "Novel Approach to Measuring Surface pH in a Cell Model of ARPKD"

    Jasmin Revanna

    Third Place (tie)

    Video by Jasmin Revanna: "Robust and Specific CRISPR-mediated gene expression modulators in neruonal subpopulations"

    Jones & Schormann

    Third Place (tie)

    Video by Anna Jones and Sebastian Schormann: "Osmotion Kinetic Exercise"
    (video has been removed)

    Goering & Alam

    Video by Marlon Goering and Sofia Alam: "The impact of concussion symptom type on caregivers’ intention to seek treatment"

    Kamal & Hijaz

    Video by Rubayet Kamal and Baraa Hijaz: "Parkinson's Disease"

    Rachel Rock

    Video by Rachel Rock: "Welcome to Morrislab"

    Tina Tian

    Video by Tina Tian: "Novel Phages as Candidates for Phage Therapy"

    Karen Wang

    Video by Karen Wang: "ACSL1 Promoter and Luciferase Gene"