Eighth annual Princeton Research Day celebrates creativity across disciplines

Written by
Alaina O'Regan, Office of the Dean for Research
May 17, 2023

At Princeton Research Day, the conversations ranged from ways to improve drone stability on a windy day to how judges score diving competitions.

Attendees from the campus and wider community came to the event at Frist Campus Center on May 11 to meet Princeton’s early-career researchers and creators and learn about their research and creative projects. Over 125 undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars participated by creating a three-minute video about their project, and the majority were at the event on May 11 to explain their work in person.

Grace Liu, undergraduate class of 2023, said that her biggest takeaway from the experience was seeing the personal impact of her research.

“The goal of presenting my research was to make people think about how climate change isn’t only affecting people out by the ocean or in desert climates, but it’s affecting everyone in different ways,” she said. “And it seems to have resonated with a lot of people who remember when Lake Carnegie used to freeze over, who have noticed that it hasn’t for years. It was rewarding to see that other people care, too, and that my research has an impact on the community around me.”

Liu earned this year’s Princeton University Library Award for her video “Exploring the Decline of Ice Skating on Lake Carnegie through Digital Newspaper Archives.”  

Princeton Research Day showcase. Presenters standing at posters, attendees and participants walking around and mingling.

The showcase featured a lively display of posters and exhibitions. Members of the community and people from across campus engaged with presenters as they discussed their multidisciplinary research and creative endeavors. Photo by Sameer Khan for Princeton University

The day’s festivities began with a showcase where participants displayed posters and exhibitions explaining their research and creative works to attendees from the University and wider community. 

Liu said that along with getting to share her own research with others through her video, the showcase was her favorite part of the event. 

“I loved being able to walk around and talk to the other presenters to see what their research was about, and to learn about so much of the research happening at Princeton,” she said.

The event encourages early-career scholars to find creative avenues to communicate their work in accessible and compelling ways, and to demonstrate the impact and importance of sharing one's research with wide audiences.

“The ability to communicate complex projects to a broad audience is important to achieving the rightful impact of one's research and creativity,” said Rodney Priestley, dean of the Graduate School and Pomeroy and Betty Perry Smith Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, in his remarks during the awards ceremony. “Indeed, your work is not recognized until it has been communicated.”

Rodney Priestley and Nate Simon posing with award certificate.
Rodney Priestley hosted a Q&A segment with Nate Simon, winner of an Outstanding Presentation Award for his video titled "Improving Drone Performance in Wind with Novel, Fast Sensors." Photo by Sameer A. Khan for Princeton University

Priestley was one of four University leaders who presented awards. Dean for Research Pablo G. Debenedetti, Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun, and Dean of the College Jill Dolan also presented awards. For some awards the leaders engaged in an on-stage conversation with awardees, asking questions about the research and creative process.

Ipsita Dey, graduate student and winner of this year’s FitzRandolph Gate fan favorite award for her video “A Tale of Two Snakes: Degei and Kaliya,” said that her research is motivated by her ability to share knowledge of her discipline with broad communities.

Dey, whose research investigates how Fijian and Hindu myths interweave and shape the lived experiences of farmers in Fiji today, explored how religious histories continue to have physical and cultural impacts on ethnic identities, environmental practices and international politics. 

“For me, the highlight was being able to have a platform to talk about why this research matters,” she said. “I really appreciated the opportunity to take myself out of the stressors of graduate school, and to remind myself why I do the work that I do.” 

The Awards Celebration recording is available to watch here.

Find the list of this year’s award winners, all of this the video submissions, and more information at the Princeton Research Day website.

Princeton Research Day is a collaborative initiative between the offices of the Dean of the College, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Dean for Research and the Vice President for Campus Life, with support from the Dean of the Faculty and Office of the Provost.

Watch the video