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Ph.D. Students Present Research at Harvard Horizons Symposium

Wednesday's graduate student presentations took place in Sanders Theatre.
Wednesday's graduate student presentations took place in Sanders Theatre. By Sanjana S. Ramrajvel
By Anissa R. Medina, Crimson Staff Writer

Eight Ph.D. candidates presented their research at the Harvard Horizons Symposium held Wednesday evening in Sanders Theatre.

Launched in 2013, the program seeks to recognize and celebrate the ideas of Ph.D. students at Harvard. Eight students are selected each fall to spend 10 weeks working together with the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning as they improve their communication and presentation skills.

Each of the eight scholars delivered brief presentations about their research topic, methods, and implications of the study.

Jess K. Kanwal, a graduate student in neuroscience, said she was excited about sharing research with people outside of her discipline. She said the Derek Bok Center provided an “incredible amount of help in training and mentoring.”

Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Emma Dench – who also sits on the Harvard Horizons committee that reviewed and selected the cohort of scholars – said the program focuses on the importance of “understanding deeply” and “explaining simply.”

“I think it’s a very important showcase for what the GSAS does because our students are doing graduate degrees, and often it's not easy to understand what they're really doing, so being able to see that cutting edge research is also extremely interesting, and even fun,” Dench said.

Mateo C. Jarquín, a student in history and one of this year’s scholars, said the program helped him to polish his public speaking skills and better explain his research findings with others.

“The process forces you to ask yourself what is actually the basic and most important aspects of my research that are important to people outside of my tiny subfield,” Jarquín said.

Applied Physics Ph.D. candidate Victoria Hwang said she appreciated having the opportunity to build relationships with the other eight presenters.

“The thing that I value the most is the cohort and the relationships that we built,” Hwang said. “It really is an intense experience. It’s eight of us and we are going through the same thing over 10 weeks and we got to know each other pretty well under situations of stress.”

Dench said the Harvard Horizons program equips students with many transferable skills.

“I think what a lot of the Horizon Scholars find is that this whole process that they go through enables them to write more crisply, even to finish their dissertations more quickly, to be sharper in their presentations,” Dench added.

—Staff writer Anissa R. Medina can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @anissarmedina.

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Harvard Horizons Symposium Highlights Work of Ph.D. Candidates