Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Journal club fun times

The first time I heard the phrase 'Journal Club,' I was spending the summer before the senior year of high school at a university lab near my home (let's face it, high school research is not real.) I thought, "How quaint! Clubs are fun, right?" before a presentation on the migration of cortical neurons. Nothing like a dark room and a topic that goes completely over your head that just lulls you to sleep. This would be the first of many lab presentations I would embarrassingly nod off during.

But not in 20.109! I guess as I gain more familiarity with the skills and techniques that go into certain research fields, I find it easier to stay focused (and awake) during presentations. As a slightly wiser (maybe?) student, I can better see the value of learning about what is currently going on in the field of research and compare what's being done in your lab to techniques of other labs. And around three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to construct and give a journal club presentation of my own.

I'm not much of a presenter. However, equipped with a full set of tools on how, theoretically, one should give a presentation from Atissa, and a newfound love of making animations in PowerPoint, I set out. The first practice run took place in a deserted floor of Barker library and was remarkably choppy and jumbled as I tried for the first time to verbalize all these ideas in my head into words spoken out loud. A few times going through the presentation, I found it easier and easier to put words together, and finally, after a stressful 7.05 exam, I was ready to present.

When I came to college, I joined a dance team, which performs a show once a semester and a few times off campus. Since freshman year, I have definitely developed more of an attitude of having no shame when it comes to performances, which I think really helped me be more comfortable in front of an audience. Although journal club was a different environment, I wasn't 'scared' of presenting for this reason. Also, because I was the first presentation out of eight, I didn't get a chance to psych myself out beforehand! While giving my presentation, I felt fairly confident in what I was talking about, and hoped I was conveying information clearly to the audience.

Today, a few weeks after, I sat down with Atissa and watched myself giving the presentation. Even though I was prepared to hear it, there's always something quite jarring about hearing your voice in a recording. Nonetheless, watching myself was really informative, and I noticed particular things I did that I never realized during my practice, such as saying "and so..." for many of my transitions. Atissa gave me a few pointers about my presentation, which were really useful, and I definitely feel more confident that I can give an even better presentation for Mod3!

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