Earlier this November, the 2021 GradShow wrapped up another successful, virtual year of sharing and learning. Over 500 submissions were received across all eight colleges and from many interdisciplinary programs.

This year, for the first time, CSU Writes sponsored an award titled the CSU Writes Written Excellence Award for best title. Small but mighty, titles are not to be underestimated.

In an era of heightened academic productivity and publication, titles are increasingly important for garnering attention and for conveying insight about an academic text. This award recognizes the crafting of excellent writing through characteristics of clarity, concision, alignment, engagement, and impression. It is a single award of $500, which may be awarded to a CSU graduate student from any program, college, or grouping.

The winner of this year’s award was Paige Ostwald, who studies cell and molecular biology. The title of Ostwald’s work was “Heart Development: the peanut butter to our cardiac jelly.” Descriptive and engaging, Ostwald’s title directed us to a compelling and powerful metaphor for understanding complex cardiac processes.

CSU Writes Director and Assistant Dean of the Graduate School Kristina Quynn welcomed attendees to the virtual platform and provided background on the purpose and breadth of the event.

“Through the GradShow, graduate student presenters practice communicating effectively with their peers and broader audiences by presenting in a campus-wide, professional venue,” Quynn shared in her welcome. “Through the GradShow, our presenters connect, engage, and demonstrate the relevance of their work to people inside and outside their disciplines, to graduate student colleagues, to faculty and to the broader CSU community, including our alumni and industry attendees.”

The purpose of the GradShow is to provide an outlet for graduate students to present their research so that those presentation skills can be practiced and honed. Presenters introduced their topics in a thirty second video clip, and a recorded a three-minute video to more thoroughly explain their research. These videos were available via an online platform where all attendees could navigate through submissions.

All award-winners were announced at the closing ceremony on November 10th, where keynote speaker Randy Olson spoke about the “And, But, Therefore Framework” for storytelling. Dr. Olson is a marine biologist by training, but in 1994, he left a tenured professorship at the University of New Hampshire to attend film school at the University of Southern California.

Each year, the GradShow provides an opportunity for growth and development of research storytelling, especially so that academics can share complex and specific topics to any audience member they may encounter.