On April 7th and 8th, 2016, the Graduate Student Association and the Interdisciplinary Graduate & Professional Student (IGPS) Symposium planning committee successfully executed a wonderful and productive event at the UC Davis Conference Center. During this two-day event there were over 70 students presenting their academic work and over 40 UC Davis staff and faculty judging the work of the students. Seeing the many members of the UC Davis community all together, enjoying each other’s company, enjoying delicious food, networking, and learning from one another was an amazing experience. The support of the Office of Graduate Studies, along with the many other sponsors who made IGPS 2016 possible, allowed for productive and respectful engagement.
The 2016 IGPS keynote speaker was Dr. Beth Rose Middleton (Afro-Caribbean, Eastern European), an Associate Professor of Native American Studies at UC Davis. Dr. Middleton works on environmental policy issues in Indian country, and reflects on the possibility of building collaborations across worldviews using interdisciplinary approaches. During the Awards Dinner on Friday, April 8th, Middleton presented her keynote address titled, Beyond Interdisciplinarity: Addressing Complex Problems Together, where she discussed the importance of interdisciplinary approaches, and even going beyond interdisciplinarity to recognize the importance of crafting communication across paradigms and worldviews, in order to begin to develop inclusive, just political, economic, scientific, and cultural interventions. Her powerful words gave all the awards dinner participants plenty to reflect on regarding the approaches that are taken while conducting research with communities whose experiences and understandings of the world differ from our own.
During the Awards Dinner the GSA also presented the Award for Excellence in Service to Graduate Students (AESGS) to two wonderful individuals who have had a positive impact on graduate students. Each year this award is presented to one staff member and to one faculty member. This year’s nominated staff was Dr. Alan Rose, a project scientist from the department of Molecular & Cellular Biology. As for the faculty nominee, the AESGS was presented to Dr. Shirley Luckhart, professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology (MMI). Graduate students who work with Dr. Rose and Dr. Luckhart also attended the Awards Dinner and presented the AESGS plaque, along with heartfelt, grateful words, to their respective mentors. Witnessing this exchange of gratitude and respect between mentor and mentee was a wonderful addition to an already delightful night that celebrated the accomplishments of the UC Davis community. To end the Awards Dinner, co-hosts Rebeca Figueroa (IGPS chair) and Carlos Ruvalcaba (IGPS co-chair), along with the new Dean of Graduate Studies, Dr. Prasant Mohapatra, presented the certificates to the IGPS 2016 Awards winners. Over $25,000 of prize money was presented during the Awards Dinner (for list of winners, please visit our website).
Finally, this year’s IGPS was unique given that it included the final round of the UC Davis Grad Slam competition, as well as workshops and panels that were organized and hosted by the Internship and Career Center. Furthermore, one of the new implementations that we hope will continue to be developed in future IGPS’ is incorporating undergraduate participation. The 2016 IGPS planning committee introduced undergraduates into the IGPS planning process by offering transcript notation to the students who were interested in helping learn about the process of planning and executing a graduate student symposium. Having undergraduate participation and assistance throughout the planning process proved to be a mutually productive and rewarding experience for everyone involved. Not only did undergraduate students get to learn about the process of planning a symposium, but they also worked on professional development by being tasked to train the staff and faculty judges. They also got to learn about the diverse research and academic topics that UC Davis graduate and professional students are working on by being moderators for the panel sessions. This, among many other tasks, helped the undergraduate volunteers truly experience the entirety of what encompasses a graduate student symposium.
With the feedback and experience of this year’s IGPS participants, we are looking forward to making the 2017 IGPS even more productive and beneficial to the UC Davis Graduate and Professional students, as well as for the rest of the UC Davis community. If you have any feedback to provide to the 2017 IGPS planning committee, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We thank all of you who attended and participated! It was a pleasure having all of you there. Please consider participating again next year!