Date April 17, 2019
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Research Matters highlights graduate student research and its impact

The annual “TED Talks”-style event challenged 12 graduate students to explain why their current research matters — to the field and to themselves — in 5 minutes or less.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Were there once oceans on Mars? What can the national air guitar championships tell us about the nature of play? Can we discover universal biomechanical principles by observing how fish eat?

These are just a few of the questions that Brown graduate students set out to answer for audience members during this year’s annual “Research Matters!” event in early April. Based on “TED Talks” — the popular series of short lectures by experts on a broad range of topics — this year’s event showcased 12 students from a wide variety of academic departments, each of whom explained the impact of their research to a general audience in quick, 5-minute presentations.

This year, 50 students applied to participate with a panel of faculty and graduate students choosing the dozen speakers from a group of 20 semifinalists.

The event is a way to recognize the work and scholarship of graduate students — and to drive home the importance of communicating research in a clear, concise and understandable way, said Vanessa Ryan, co-deputy dean of Brown’s Graduate School.

“Research Matters celebrates the ways that graduate students are already contributing every day to Brown and the world,” Ryan said. “What better way to do so than through their own voices? Each speaker drew us in to their deep disciplinary research to share with us why their research matters, particularly to them. The skill to convey complex ideas to an interdisciplinary audience is an important one and all the more important for researchers today.”

The three videos below offer a glimpse of this year’s event. In the first, Shekinah Fashaw explains the connections between predominantly black and low-income neighborhoods, the aging adults who live in them and their ability to access home health care services. Next, Byrd McDaniel tells the stories of participants in the air guitar world championships and how their performances can be vulnerable, yet empowering. Finally, Apoorvaa Deshpande describes her research focused on creating privacy-preserving tools for blockchain.

To see all 12 Research Matters! presentations, visit the full playlist.


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