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OU competition celebrates research students’ creativity

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The OU’s research community gathered to celebrate its research students’ academic excellence this month (June 2022) at the annual Postgraduate Research Poster Competition.

More than 50 OU researchers, and PhD and Professional Doctorate students attended the competition in the University’s Hub Theatre in Milton Keynes, which took place face to face for the first time since the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Now in its 17th year, the annual competition empowers postgraduate research students to communicate their work in a poster or multimedia content, such as videos. Over 30 submissions were entered this year on diverse topics, from the exploring planet Venus’ atmosphere to the algorithms used to spot gene markets responsible for diseases.

A judging panel of OU research leaders selected winners in two categories:

Judges Choice

Shuang Ao from the Knowledge Media Institute’s poster, AI in Safety-Critical Tasks, To Trust Or Not To Trust, that is a question, scooped the top prize. It explored how to build safeguards into Artificial Intelligence in safety-critical tasks for humans, from autonomous driving to medical diagnosis. The judges praised Shuang’s poster’s clear explanation of a complex topic and her engaging presentation.

Judges’ Choice (Best Use of Imagery)

Linda Robson’s Reliability of memory poster impressed the judges with its striking imagery. Linda, who balances studying towards a Doctorate in Education with her role as Lead Staff Tutor for the School of Engineering and Innovation, used an artistic experiment which saw an artist design a replica lamppost from memory as a clever metaphor to explore the reliability of research participants’ memories.

Community Choice

OU staff and students also voted in the Community Choice Poster and Community Choice Multimedia categories.

This year, The School of Psychology and Counselling’s Katherine Langford claimed the Poster prize for her (Mis)Understanding Physics poster, which examined different aspects of the psychology of learning.

Katherine was also joint winner, with Emily Dowdeswell of the School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, of the Multimedia prize for their Fun in Learning video. It was brilliant to see an interdisciplinary approach with this great example of communication.The OU’s Graduate School organised this year’s awards.

Professor Lindsay O’Dell, Graduate School Director, said:

“This was the first year we’ve been able to gather in person since 2019, and it was excellent to see members of the OU’s vibrant academic community come together to celebrate our research students.

“The creativity and diversity of entries were excellent and demonstrated our postgraduate researchers’ dedication and skill in communicating research. The judges had a very challenging time selecting the winners. There were no easy decisions, and I congratulate everyone who participated.”

Winners collected vouchers between £50 and £100 to spend with online retailers.

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