The Outstanding Student Presentation Award (OSPA) program began at Fall Meeting in 1999 and has been growing ever since. This year, OSPA will facilitate nearly 3,200 student presenters. OSPA was created to provide feedback to student presenters and recognize top-ranking students in each section . To ensure that all rankings are evenhanded and impartial, each OSPA presentation must be evaluated by three anonymous judges. This means that nearly 9,600 volunteer judges are needed, and we’re asking for your help. In as little as 1 hour during Fall Meeting, you can evaluate three OSPA presentations.
Why Should I Volunteer as a Judge?
You will positively impact student experiences at AGU.
For many students, Fall Meeting is their first experience at such a large academic conference . OSPA provides an opportunity for these students at the Ph.D., master’s, and undergraduate levels to receive feedback from scientists outside of their home institution. By devoting a small portion of their time to OSPA at Fall Meeting, judges can make a significant impact on students in the early stages of their career. An analysis of 2013–2017 Fall Meeting data shows that students who participate in OSPA are 12% more likely to present their research at future meetings. Dr. Gaëlle Gilson, a postdoctoral researcher at Université Catholique de Louvain, wrote about her experiences, saying, “In such a big conference it is nice to have interactions with judges. The feedback itself was good, but interacting with more experienced researchers from your field of study was also immensely beneficial. Registering for OSPA helped me interact with attendees I may not have otherwise.”
You will help students refine their presentation skills.
Judges provide feedback in areas including presentation, content, and communication style. The feedback can help influence future presentations by helping students continually refine their increasingly necessary skills at communicating their science. Aleya Kaushik, now a postdoctoral fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo., recounted her longtime participation: “Any feedback [received] from the OSPA judges I tried to take into consideration when I was designing my next poster, so it’s always been helpful from that perspective.”
You will genuinely enjoy it.
Volunteering as an OSPA judge is rewarding for both students and their judges. Many past judges have made a point to volunteer every year, making OSPA a pillar of their AGU experience. Past judges have reported that the most rewarding part of their experience is interacting with the students. Laurie Brown, professor emeritus from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and president of the AGU Geomagnetism, Paleomagnetism, and Electromagnetism section, commented on one of her favorite parts of being an OSPA judge: “What I really enjoyed was talking specifically to students about their work and particularly some of the topics that I may not have gone to on my own. [The presentations] weren’t close to what I’m doing, but those are always really interesting because you can learn a lot from the student and see what the students are doing.”
You will provide a critical service to AGU.
Volunteering for OSPA provides critical assistance to students and AGU during Fall Meeting. Without more experienced scientists willing to volunteer their time and expertise, OSPA would not be possible. To recognize your contribution to the Fall Meeting and to the development of young scientists, AGU will send your home institution a letter recognizing your professional service.
Enjoy exclusive OSPA volunteer perks.
As an OSPA judge, you will receive access to the OSPA Volunteer Lounge within the Walter Washington Convention Center next to the OSPA Resource Center. The lounge provides a space for judges to relax, grab a cup of coffee, charge their devices, and socialize with other judges.
OSPA is a rewarding experience for participants and judges alike, and we encourage you to volunteer. Visit http://bit.ly/OSPA2018 to sign up as an OSPA judge today!