The Student Professional Development Group of the Oklahoma Association for Food Protection is improving research presentation skills through the Enhancing Short Creative Research and Innovations Presentation Techniques, or ESCRIPT, program, thanks to funding support for a second year.
The group received funding for 2018-19 for Short Research Presentation Grants, sponsored jointly by the Oklahoma State University Graduate College and the Office of the Vice President for Research.
“The confirmation of funding means we have the opportunity to continue to develop as well-rounded researchers,” said Joyjit Saha, an OSU food science graduate student and ESCRIPT program past chair.
The ESCRIPT program provides training sessions through a lecture series presented by experts, as well as discussion and practice sessions to improve short research presentation skills of graduate students enrolled in agricultural sciences.
For Connor McDaniel, an OSU food science graduate student and this year’s ESCRIPT chair, public speaking has always been a nerve-wracking task.
“Participating in the ESCRIPT presentations was a great way to build confidence before heading to a conference,” McDaniel said. “This was my first time to speak at anything in graduate school.”
Speakers from academic units around campus are invited to the ESCRIPT sessions to discuss five different objectives in research presenting, which teach graduate students how to speak in different settings with various audiences, overcome public speaking fears, manage time and enhance presentation content.
“Each of the speakers puts their own twist on the topics they are talking about,” McDaniel said. “They present valuable advice; they’ve all been where we are now, so they can speak from personal experiences.”
In addition to hearing speakers, the graduate students have the opportunity to practice presenting their own research in front of faculty members of OSU’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center.
The experience McDaniel gained participating in the ESCRIPT program helped her win first place and the People’s Choice award during the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources 2018 Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition held Oct. 15.
Peter Muriana, FAPC food microbiologist, described the ESCRIPT program as “an 'extra' opportunity for students to present and fine-tune their research presentation skills before their participation at national meetings and speaking engagements.”
During the final session of the 2017-18 funding year, ESCRIPT participants were assessed based on their research presentation improvement throughout the program.
Judged by Muriana, OKAFP treasurer; Divya Jaroni, FAPC food microbiologist and OKAFP chair; and Ravi Jadeja, food safety specialist and OKAFP secretary, participants showing significant improvement were awarded $150, $100 and $50 for first, second and third places, respectively.
The top graduate student presenters were Patrick Rydzak, first place; Dennis Pletcher, second place; and Sabra Billings, third place. Other participants were recognized with certificates for successfully completing the 2017-18 ESCRIPT training program.
The student group is planning more events for the 2018-19 school year, utilizing the funds received.
FAPC, a part of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, helps to discover, develop and deliver technical and business information that will stimulate and support the growth of value-added food and agricultural products and processing in Oklahoma.