A poster session lets you get into more more engaging discussions than you would otherwise

Written by Jennifer Paykin
Published: 2016-10-28 (last updated: 2016-10-28)

My name is Jennifer Paykin, I am a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania, where I work with Steve Zdancewic on type theoretic applications of linear logic. At ICFP in Nara this year I gave a talk, presented a poster, and was a student volunteer. It was great!

As a grad student I have presented a bunch of posters by now---maybe four or five. This ICFP a number of people asked me why I keep making them---after all, they're a lot of work with not much recognition attached. For me there are a couple of reasons. First, more superficially, I do it because there is often a financial incentive. The ACM Student Research Competition now sponsors events at ICFP, POPL, and PLDI, and they provide up to $500 travel support. For students who couldn't otherwise attend the conference, this is a great opportunity. Furthermore, there are prizes: at this ICFP there were more prizes available than applicants!

The more important experience is the poster session itself. For one, it's a great chance to present your research! A poster session is not like a talk, because you get to have face-to-face conversations and meet others who might be interested in your topic. It's also better in some ways than other one-on-one conversations, because you get a visual aid to help make your point. The poster lets you get into more more engaging discussions than you would otherwise, because your audience can freely ask questions.

So what if it takes some time to design the poster, print it out, carry it on the plane... okay, it is a bit of work. But I think it's worth it to get the experience of authentic and fruitful discussions, especially at ICFP.