Graduate Academic Conference

Coming Soon: Abstract submission details for 2022 GAC!

What is the GAC?

The GAC is a forum for graduate students to gain experience communicating their research to a non-specialized audience. Our adjudicators are MSU Alums (many graduate school alums!)  with wide-ranging professional backgrounds who provide feedback that can help students fine tune their presentation skills. As a presenter, you will benefit from constructive feedback that will help you learn to better communicate your research to generalized audiences as you progress in your research. You will also be able to network with your peers across disciplines as well as with your audience of judges and other interested professionals attending the conference! As an attendee, you will be able to view the great work being done by student researchers as well as have access to workshops geared to help all graduate/professional students!

Communication is a skill that takes practice. The GAC helps students get the practice and provides feedback they need to become better communicators. Here are the RUBRICS that are used to evaluate the presentations.

Abstract Submission/Registration (click/tap to open section)

The 13th Annual Graduate Academic Conference will take place on Saturday, February 20, 2021, on Whova. 9:00 am – 6 pm 

“Graduate Students: Together in Turbulent Times”

Our 2021 Room Themes: Growing Knowledge, Healthy Societies, Innovation and Mobility, and Sustainability

Abstract submission is now closed. If you missed the January 15th deadline, but are still interested in presenting, please email us:

All those presenting are asked to pay a $5 presenter fee. If payment is not received by the day before the conference you will not be able to take home any winnings. Please pay the presenter fee here.

REGISTRATION  **Register here to attend the conference, view presentations, keynote, and attend workshop**

Even if you are NOT presenting, you are welcome to attend the conference to watch your peers’ presentations, attend a workshop and see our Keynote event! There is no charge for any of the events. Please register below to choose your workshop preference and/or to receive links to attend the conference.

Registration Form

For those that have registered already, please download the Whova app or access the conference at Whova using this button. Access to the conference site is done using the email provided during registration. Please make a free Whova account to gain access to the GAC page!

Get Whova Now

Important Information for Speakers and Presenters (click/tap to open section)

General Information on Presenting: Focus on Communication

The focus of this conference is to help students fine tune their presentation skills.  Therefore, you are NOT being judged on the quality of your research. Was your research slowed down by the pandemic? Experiments not completed? Results not ready yet? No problem!  We just want you to concentrate on how best to COMMUNICATE your research to a generalized audience!

Our adjudicators are MSU Alums, many former graduate students just like you! They represent a wide range of professional backgrounds.  The rubrics they will use to evaluate your presentations are listed here:

Evaluation Rubrics

To pay the abstract fee please follow this link:

Abstract Payment

Oral Presenters:

  • Arrive 10 minutes early to your time slot for your presentation.
  • Send PowerPoint for Oral Presentation to the committee before the day of the conference.
  • We will provide a walkthrough before the event. Check below for the date of the workshop for presenters.
  • Oral Presentation is 10 minutes of presentation time and a 5-minute period for questions.

Oral Presentations Video Key Points

Poster Presenters:

  • Posters can be sent to the committee as a PDF for uploading to the conference platform.
  • A zoom link will need to be provided for your presentation. Zoom link needs to have waiting room Disabled and passcode EMBEDDED for one click open; and set to recurring for no specific time (all day). See Video for how-to instructions if you need help!
  • How to Embed Passcode into Zoom Link (PDF)
  • We will provide a walkthrough before the event. Check below for the workshop for poster presenters.
  • A typical poster size is either 32″ x 40″ or 36″ x 48″ . That said, there is no poster size requirement.
  • Either portrait or landscape orientation is acceptable.

Poster Presenters Video Key Points

3MT Presenters:

  • Arrive 10 minutes early to your time slot for your presentation.
  • We will provide a time count down and a walk through before the event.
  • We will provide a walkthrough before the event. Check below for the date of the workshop for presenters.
  • Rules for 3MT follow the same format as the University of Queensland here.

Pre-Conference Workshops:

Poster presenters: Monday February 8th at 7-8 pm
Oral presentation presenters: Wednesday February 10th from 7-8 pm
3 Minute Thesis presenters: Friday February 12th from 7-8 pm

Abstract Acceptance Email Information:

Poster Presenters:

If you are presenting a poster, we are asking for the following items from you. We will need your poster as a pdf, and we will need a zoom link with a password embedded in it by Wednesday, February 17th at 5 pm. The pdf should be saved with your name and GAC in the file name. We are going to have many poster presentations happening simultaneously and we want to ensure that each of you is given the opportunity to present to all that would like to participate. For this reason, if we do not receive the before mentioned items by Wednesday, February 17th, you will not be able to present at the conference. We need those last couple of days to input all the data from each presenter and as such the pdf that is sent to us will be the final poster that will be presented on the conference platform. If you need help with getting the zoom link to have the password embedded in it, please attend the workshop mentioned above or reach out to the office at

Oral Presenters:

You will be given a 15-minute time slot for your presentations. Please note that this time also includes time for questions. As such you should plan for a 10-minute presentation and 5 minutes for questions. Because the event is virtual there may be questions that you get that are typed into a Q&A chatbox on the conference site. We will have a moderator in the room with you and they will help direct questions to you if they are typed. This should help you to focus on the presentation as you are presenting and not on the chat features as questions may be asked during your presentations to be answered at the end.

3 Minute Thesis Presenters:

You will need to have ONE SLIDE (no motion) for your presentation. For this virtual environment we have decided that it’s best that you keep the slide (no need now to send to us) and simply share it on Your screen.  You will need to send this slide to us if you win, as we must send this on to the MAGS board by the Monday following the competition. We also need to ensure that all rules are followed on the slide as if you win you will be presenting again in March. Your final slide must be static (no motion) and must comply with all 3MT rules. The list of rules that must be followed can be found at You will have exactly 3 minutes from the first word that you speak for your entire presentation. At the 3-minute mark, we must stop you from continuing even if it is your last sentence. This said we will do our best to let you know as time passes through the zoom features. This will be discussed further at the above-mentioned presentation workshop for the 3MT.
Helpful 3MT Information: Complete 3MT Information can be found on the official 3MT website:
Help with Whova
Here is a document that can help if you are having difficulty registering with Whova: Help Get Whova
Need help navigating Whova? Please come to or watch the Pre-Conference Workshops/recordings. If you have any questions, please contact and we can help you through it. We are happy to schedule a 1-1 zoom meeting to go over all your questions!

Room Themes

Global Innovation

This session focuses on research at the cutting-edge of its respective field with the potential to alter the global landscape as we know it with research in, but not limited to, biomedical, engineering, medicine, chemistry, and social sciences.

Growing Knowledge

This session focuses on how scientists, either social or natural, gather knowledge including, but not limited to, research done from the colleges of Social Science, Engineering, Natural Science, Law, Medicine, and Arts and Literature.

Healthy Societies

This session is targeted towards research areas that deal with understanding and improving the human experience, including, but not limited to, research from the colleges of Engineering, Social Science, Communication, Arts and Literature, Music, Nursing, and Medicine.


This session is targeted at research that will guide us through an uncertain future, bridging the knowledge from, but not limited to, research on climate change, the environment, food and water, energy, and business.

Keynote Speaker (click/tap to open section)

Keynote Speaker: Provost Teresa K. Woodruff

Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. serves as Michigan State University’s Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. As the chief academic officer for Michigan State University, Provost Woodruff provides leadership for matters that affect academic programs, research, and outreach involving faculty, students, and staff. She oversees the quality of instruction and research at the University through collaborative work with deans, departmental chairs, and other vice presidents, addressing issues such as effective planning, good management, and program reviews.

Full bio here

Conference Workshops (click/tap to open section)

Conference Workshops

TIME: 9:30 AM to 11:00 AM EST.

1. Coping with Stress and Pandemic Fatigue: Well-being Skills and Resources

Presented by Meg Moore-

Resources from workshop:  Well-being Goals and Graduate/Professional Student Wellness Resources at MSU

2. Grant Writing

Presented by The Writing Center and WRAC

Important Information for Judges (click/tap to open section)

  • You will receive an email with all the day-of details that you will need.
  • The conference will be hosted on the platform. Information to come.
  • We will have a  session prior to the conference to go over responsibilities for the conference and to help with any concerns about the technology that will be involved. The session will be held on Thursday, February 11 at 7 pm. If you were unable to attend, the recording of that session is posted below.
  • Session times listed below
  • To view the rubrics before the conference, download them here.
  • Thank you for your service!

Judges Information Video Key Points

Poster Resources at MSU (click/tap to open section)


Poster Printing

While this year is a totally virtual conference you still may want to print your poster out for other conferences or your lab or your home! If you are having any difficulties we wanted to provide you with some helpful information!

Having trouble designing your poster? Follow this link to a cool new poster presentation called the Better Poster! 

Here are some additional links to youtube videos about poster design and how to make a poster in PowerPoint.

How to Create a Better Research Poster in Less Time

Mike Morrison on Better Posters

How to Use Science to Make Your Scientific Poster More Powerful

How to Make an Academic Poster in PowerPoint

Don’t know where to get your poster printed? Look into your department first to see if there is a place to print posters. If not, there is a poster printer in the library that can help! Below is a little bit of information that may be helpful for you as well!

How much does it cost for a poster?

  • Full Ink Coverage (Color or Black): $6.00 per linear foot
  • 25% Ink Coverage (Color or Black): $3.60 per linear foot
  • Line drawing (Black or Color): $1.80 per linear foot
  • Premium Paper is available for an additional $2.40 per linear foot.

Who may use this service?

  • The poster printing service is only available to MSU Students and Faculty/Staff. You must have a valid MSU NetID to log into computers that support the software needed to send a poster.

What is 3MT? (click/tap to open section)

What is 3MT?

 Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) celebrates the exciting research conducted by Ph.D. students around the world. Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), the competition cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. Presenting in a 3MT competition increases their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. Competitors are allowed one PowerPoint slide, but no other resources or props.  The winner of MSU’s 3MT competition will have the opportunity to compete at the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) 3MT in March 2021. Students must be enrolled during the Spring 2021 semester to compete. Please click on the LINK below for more information.  You may also visit for more information on 3MT.

Previous Conferences (click/tap to open section)

2021 Conference Details

Congratulations to our 2021 GAC Winners, and thank you to our GAC Committee and The Graduate School for the support. We can’t wait to see you again next year!

Poster Presentations:

1st Place: Ying-Chen Lin, Horticulture

2nd Place: Sukhwindar Ajimal, Osteopathic Medicine

3rd Place: Talha Ghazi, Human Medicine

 Oral Presentations:

1st Place: Megan Carrillo, Osteopathic Medicine

2nd Place: Erika Tvedten, Osteopathic Medicine

3rd Place: Jillian Sterman, Fisheries & Wildlife

3MT Competition:

1st Place: Tessa Grebey, Animal Science*

2nd Place: Sneha Banerjee, Electrical Engineering

People’s Choice:

Apoorva Kulkarni, Chemical Engineering

*Advances to Regional MAGS 3-MT!

2021 GAC Program

2021 GAC Photo Gallery

2020 Conference Details

The 2020 GAC Conference was such a huge success that we just want to say thanks to everyone who came out to the 12th annual Graduate Academic Conference on February 22, 2020. Congratulations to all of our winners and thank you again to our amazing Keynote Speaker and Workshop leaders! Without you this conference would not have been the success it was! This conference led to some amazing participants and we are proud to award the following students with awards in each of the categories listed below. We hope to see you at the 2021 GAC!

Poster Presentations:

1st Place: Katayoon Maghami

2nd Place: Vinai Reddy

3rd Place: Brianna Alred

 Oral Presentations:

1st Place: Amelia Stieren

2nd Place: Vanessa Maldonado

3rd Place: Skye Russell

3MT Competition:

1st Place: Syeda Anum Hadi

2nd Place: Xinyu Tu

3rd Place: Dhrubajit Chowdhury

Thank you to all who volunteered, judged, attended, presented, and planned our 12th Annual GAC! See below for pictures of the event.

2020 GAC Program

2019 Conference Details

During the 2019 GAC we had many presenters and participants and we just want to say thanks to everyone who came out to the 11th Annual Graduate Academic Conference on February 16, 2019 and congratulations to all of our presenters. Without you this conference would not have been the success it was! This year we were proud to award the following students with awards in each of the categories below. We hope to see you this February as well!!

Poster Presentations:

1st:  Azrina Azrina with the presentation titled ‘Salmonella typhimurium: Specific Signatures as Targets for Detection by Using DNA Aptamer in Foods and Enviroments’.

2nd: Albert Jiao with the presentation titled ‘Reversal of Cancer Gene Expression Predicts drug Candidates for Cholangiocarcinoma’.

3rd: Saba Manzoor with the presentation titled ‘Effects of seasonal variations on distribution patterns of Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) in rural and urban zones of Central Punjab, Pakistan’.

Oral Presentations:

1st: Kellie Walters with a presentation titled ‘Temperature and daily light integral influence growth and development of sweet basil’

2nd: Matthew Swiatnicki with a presentation titled ‘Whole genome sequencing of mouse mammary tumors reveals a Ptprh mutation with potential importance to non-small cell lung cancer’

3rd: Lauren Kiryakoza with a presentation titled ‘Concerted transcriptomic and lipidomic analysis highlights altered lipid metabolism in humane diabetic retinopathy, particulary in phosphatidylcholine and diacylglycerol generative pathways’

3MT Competition:

1st: Azrina Azrina with a presentation titled ‘Salmonella typhimurium: Specific Signatures as Targets for Detection by Using DNA Aptamer in Food and Environments’

2nd: Pretap Bhanu Solanski with a presentation titled ‘Staying Connected in the Underwater Realm via Light’

3rd: Tyler Derr with a presentation titled ‘Multi-Factor Congressional Vote Prediction’

Please see here for article  – The State News

2019 GAC Photo Gallery

2018 GAC Photo Gallery

Videos from GAC 2021

Thank you all for attending this year’s conference! The day went so well and we could not have asked for better presentations! Thank you to our judges for all of your hard work! We also want to thank our workshop organizers/presenters and our Keynote speaker Provost Woodruff from MSU. The day was a huge success and we are so happy that the first ever virtual GAC was enjoyed by all that attended!

Below you will find the videos that we collected from the conference. We only recorded the Keynote Address and the Awards as we did not want any issues with research grants to effect our student presenters as they continue their work.

For those that attended the conference you are still able to access Whova for the videos as well. Thank you for your attendance and we look forward to next year’s conference!