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Communicating Complexity: 2023 Postdoc Spotlight

Postdoc spotlight 23 singh
Postdoc spotlight 23 singh
First place winner Ankita Singh presents ‘Fixing Leakage in the Gut.’

The Graduate School at Stony Brook University challenged seven postdoctoral scholars to distill their complex research projects into clear and compelling narratives at its annual postdoc spotlight, held November 16 at the Charles B. Wang Center.

Addressing a full house, the scholars treated the audience to five-minute presentations on the significance and impact of their work in a concise and accessible manner, making their complex research accessible to a non-specialist audience, a skill necessary for researchers in all fields.

“The SBU Postdoc Spotlight aims to train a generation of researchers to communicate their vital and complicated work to a general audience. That general audience becomes better informed and enriched by the knowledge and better decision making ability in light of that knowledge,” said Celia Marshik, dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for Graduate and Professional Education.

After the presentations, Ankita Singh, postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, was awarded first place for her project entitled ‘Fixing Leakage in the Gut.’

Postdoc spotlight 23 group
The 2023 SBU Postdoc Spotlight speakers.

Singh’s  research is centered on inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a condition causing intestinal ulcers. Her team is studying the protein IL-22, which has both positive effects on IBD but can’t be a direct treatment due to potential side effects. The protein B3galt5 may be a potential candidate to treat IBD patients with fewer side effects than IL-22, and Singh’s team hopes to expand their research findings to explore this possible alternative.

While developing their presentations, the scholars received coaching on science communication that was grounded in the pedagogy of the Alda Center for Communicating Science in order to learn and practice how to present their research to a non-specialist audience. “The Alda Center method opened up my mind about how to think about the audience. Rather than just working on your presentation, think like it’s a one-on-one conversation and make it interesting,” said Singh. “I never thought of involving the audience so much but now that will be the main emphasis of any talk I will be preparing in the future.”

Singh thanked Kathleen Flint Ehm and Molly Lotz from the Graduate School for “getting me out of my shell and working on my presentation skills. It was a fun learning experience. I have learned a lot and all four sessions have helped me clear my thoughts in simplifying my research work. All the postdocs learned a lot in the entire process.”

“I commend these speakers for doing something hard and leaving their office or lab to share the fruits of their research and help us understand why that research matters,” said Marshik.

The SBU Postdoc Spotlight is hosted annually by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, with sponsorship from the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Center for Inclusive Education.

2023 SBU Postdoc Spotlight Speakers:

Ankita Singh, Microbiology and Immunology (1st place)
Fixing Leakage in the Gut

Gabriel Matos, Microbiology and Immunology (2nd place)
Stopping the Fungi Apocalypse

Katherine Gallagher, Institute for Advanced Computational Science & School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (3rd place)
The Mystery of the Gap

Arshad Mehmood, Institute for Advanced Computational Science & Chemistry
Painting with Light: A Journey of Interpretation

Atul Pradhan, Medicine
Tuberculosis: A Present Challenge

Ciro Riccio, Physics and Astronomy
The Crack in the Mirror

Mitu Sharma, Chemistry
Can Chemistry Unlock the Treasure of Bountiful Crops?

— Beth Squire

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