Research Communications

Student Expo Seeks Judges 

April 18, 2011

Ten percent of Ohio University faculty members volunteer to judge hundreds of student presentations at the annual Student Research and Creative Activity Expo.  Many faculty members and staff continue to volunteer year after year−not because they get free pizza, but because they find participating in the Expo to be rewarding and inspirational.

“It’s exciting and actually motivational to see so much good work being done here at Ohio University,” said Eric Stinaff, an assistant professor of  physics and astronomy who has served as a judge for three years. “It gives me a sense of pride and appreciation for the strength and diversity of the university.”

Roxanne Malé-Brune, director of grant development and projects, coordinates the judges for the event, which draws more than 600 student presenters and 2,000 visitors annually. She’s still recruiting faculty and staff volunteers for the 2011 event, which will be held Friday, May 13 at the Convocation Center. Judging will occur from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
 Research Expo
More than 600 students present at the Student Research and Creative Activity Expo at the Convocation Center each year.

“They need to believe it’s worthwhile,” Malé-Brune said. “Volunteers should be knowledgeable, caring and enthusiastic.”

In each Expo session, two judges evaluate students outside of their disciplines (but in related fields) to avoid conflict of interest. The students present for ten minutes each, and judges are given five minutes to discuss. Judges select a first- and a second-place winner or two joint first-place winners. Winners receive a ribbon and prize money up to $200.

Judges are asked to focus on the strengths of the student’s oral presentation of the project instead of evaluating the research itself, Malé-Brune said.

“We look for students who take ownership of their project, can explain their role and the need or opportunity for the project, clearly explain the methodology, and indicate outcomes and strategies for continuation or distribution of the project,” said Carolyn Bailey Lewis, recently retired director and general manager of the WOUB Center for Public Media. Lewis has been a judge for three years.

Volunteers say they enjoy seeing the success of their own students, as well as students from other departments, on display.

“The Expo helps me get a better understanding of what other groups and departments are involved in on campus,” Stinaff said. “Every year, I am introduced to many new and interesting topics.”

Students also benefit from presenting their research to the judges, as it’s an opportunity to communicate to an audience outside of their field.

“Learning how to convey your ideas in a general and broad way is an extremely important aspect of being a student and a researcher,” Stinaff said.

The presentation topics range from rapid blood alcohol testing to poetry and political campaigning. Last year, a group of students presented their research on the evolution of social networking.

“To see the brilliance of these students and how far ahead they were thinking made an impact,” Lewis said.

Stinaff and Lewis encourage faculty and staff members to participate in the experience.

“You have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with students from myriad Ohio University colleges and schools about their interests,” Lewis said. “You get to experience the breadth and depth of some amazing projects, and you get to learn something new.”

To volunteer to serve as a judge, please contact Roxanne Malé-Brune at (740) 597-1227 or by Wednesday, April 27. Read more about the Student Expo online at

By Milissa Hudepohl