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Creating a Good Abstract & Poster

How to Write a Good Abstract

  • Don't include much scientific text.
  • Break things down into categories that employers can sift through easily.
  • The word limit is of 1,500 words.
  • Note that the guidelines have changed since the example abstract was submitted in 2013, so please make sure that you have these two new sections (separated by headers) in your abstract:
    • Research Interests
    • Teaching Interests

We have broken it up into two sections (research and teaching) to give the candidates guidance regarding what employers expect to see. Throughout your academic career, you will be evaluated on four major contributions:  

  1. Funding,
  2. Publications,
  3. Teaching, and
  4. Service. 

The first two fall under the broad category of "research".  Service you are not expected to have at this point in your career. So your CV, your job application packet should reflect your contributions to research and teaching, as those are the two major categories you will be evaluated upon. 

As far as this abstract, we assume the main goal for you to is to get a job. 

We recommend that you do not format it like a regular AIChE submission, but instead make it an advertisement of yourself as a faculty candidate.  We also recommend you mention more than just one of your research projects, so as to give an overview of who you are and what you are capable of / what your experiences are / what you bring into the university.

View an example abstract

See examples from abstracts presented in 2016

How to Create a Good Poster

You'll want to abide by all the marketing rules of advertising. In other words, you want something that grabs attention of the employers passing by and quickly (remember they might spend just a few seconds passing by your poster).

The key components of a good poster include:

1.  A Catchy & Descriptive Title

The title should be easy to understand. It should also include your current affiliation and your boss's name.

2.  Large & Pretty Images

Many people make the mistake of treating this as a science poster with lots of data and equations. Make it more enticing.

3.  Be creative!

At the Meet the Faculty Candidate Poster session, the format is completely free, so you can do with it what you want. 

Think about making it interactive - We have seen some people hanging tablets on their posters. If you have some interesting samples you want to show, that is fine too. Some people attach their papers and resumes just in case someone is super-interested in their work. Finally, don't forget your business cards! This will help in case you aren't present at your poster.

View the Poster Session FAQs
This includes the size of the poster boards, general setup information, and additional tips for an effective poster.

What employers are looking for

Employers simply want to get the big picture of who you are and what you are doing; they're mainly looking for:

  1. The theme of your research (what to expect from you in the next 5 years)
  2. Your publications (how many, what journals)
  3. Your grant writing experience (how many proposals, what agency, type - postdoc grant or did you help your boss write an actual grant) - This is potentially the most important item. It shows that you are trying to become an independent scientist and that you have experience with writing and, probably failing at, grants (i.e., you are not going to quit after year of realizing that this is not something for you).
  4. Awards & accomplishments

View an example poster

As you can see, the example is really using the "pretty image" strategy. It also doesn't include any graphs or scientific text. The poster does give a good overview of the author's past, current, and future (looking forward is what sets "faculty material" apart from the rest) research directions!

The key points on the poster are: papers, grants, skills, adviser and ivy league university.