Biology Department

Summer Research Poster Session

Every fall Reed hosts a Summer Research Poster Session to celebrate the work students accomplished during the summer. Students who completed research over the summer present results and learn about other students’ summer science research.

This 2023 Summer Research Poster Session will be on:

Friday, Sept 1st, 2023 at 4:00 PM
International Plaza,
near the language houses
(or Kaul Auditorium in case of rain, smoke, etc)

The session will feature work from students primarily in the Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Math, Physics, and Psychology Departments. All college-funded Biology summer students are asked to present a poster, and all students who conducted research this summer (including off-campus research) are invited to present a poster (please encourage your friends). Please read the following information carefully, so you’re well prepared for this exciting event.

How to Participate

To participate, please register here by Mon, Aug 28.

Set-Up at the Event

The space will be open for set-up beginning at 3:30pm. Please arrive no later than 3:50pm. All posters should be in place by 4:00pm (regardless of when you are assigned to present). If you are unable to arrive by 3:50pm please contact Kristy Gonyer ( to troubleshoot solutions.

When you arrive you will be provided materials to set up and directed to the section of the venue where you should set-up. You will be provided with an easel, a 30x40in foam board, tape and/or push pins to mount your poster.

Presenting at the Event

Students will be assigned to present during one of two sessions. Session A will take place from 4-4:30pm and Session B will take place from 4:40-5:10pm. During your assigned session, please stand near your poster to explain your research and answer questions. During the alternate session, please leave your poster in place, and spend some time walking around viewing other students posters. The sessions are intended to help minimize crowding, so we ask that you only stand near your poster and present during your assigned session.

Preparing A Reed Poster

Note: If you are making a poster to present a non-research based project or internship, feel free to modify the template and contents of your poster to better share your work.

Purpose: To showcase the key features of your scientific work so that other scientists can see what you did and why you did it. You will be standing at your poster presenting the work to small groups. The poster should serve as a good visual aid, but it need not include all of the details that would be necessary in a written document. It should have easy-to-follow graphics and/or images. (see below for more detail)

Format: We will provide 30”x40” boards and poster stands for mounting. For 2023, the Renn lab has agreed to cover the cost of printing a large format 24” X 36” poster on their printer if you follow the instructions below. You are also welcome to use an existing poster that has already been printed, however larger posters should be avoided when possible since they are difficult to display on the provided mounting boards.

Use this .ppt template (that also include advice on designing a poster) to help get you started.

If you would like the Renn lab to print a large format poster for you, you must follow these formatting guidelines.

  • Your file must be 24”x36” (HxW or WxH). Landscape orientation is highly recommended. We highly recommend that you use the provided template to ensure the document is the correct size. To streamline printing it is important that the page size of the template is not changed. If you use another program to create your poster you must ensure that the size of the file is correct.
  • Use images in PNG format with transparent backgrounds with caution or avoid them entirely. Sometimes the transparent portions are replaced with a black fill when it is printed so it's safer to avoid graphics with transparent portions or use a different file format (ex. JPG). 
  • Minimize the use of dark colors on the poster. Students are asked to be considerate of our ink supply and think about how much ink will be used on their posters. Darker areas use more ink, so big swathes of dark colors should be used with care. Black backgrounds in images are fine if they really help (ex. for fluorescent microscopy) but their use should be minimized where possible, and in particular, the entire poster should not have a dark/black background.

A faculty member should review and approve your poster before you submit it. (Double check for typos!)

Printing Your Poster

Step One: Proofread Carefully & Save as a .pdf.

  1. Be sure to carefully proofread your poster, as we will only print one copy of your poster.
  2. Have your faculty member proofread and approve your poster before printing.
  3. Save your poster first as the normal .pptx format so you can use it later in that format if necessary. Then save it again as .pdf

Step Two: Submit a .pdf file no later than Mon, Aug 28.

  • Your file must be a .pdf
  • You must submit your final file no later than Mon, 8/28 or we can’t guarantee that we will be able to print your poster and you may be responsible for printing (and paying for) your own poster  (i.e. printing at Kinkos and other local shops is typically ~$90 per poster). If you miss the deadline please contact us to determine what options you may have.

Final files should be submitted on the event registration form here:

Preparing Your Poster

Main Components

  • Title: Short informative title plus list of authors, lab/department/institution
  • Abstract: (optional, but good practice to write one even if it’s not on the poster) the scientific context of your experiment, what you did, how you did it, what you found, your conclusions, the implications of your findings. One paragraph.
  • Introduction/goals of the project/background: often listed with bullet points • Methods/experimental design: Use graphics or flow charts. This is not like the materials and methods section of a paper, rather it should highlight the basic steps you took.
  • Results: Can include bullet points or bold headings but the bulk of the results will be presented as figures, tables, graphs, or photos/drawings. Each figure should have an informative title and a legend clearly explaining what is going on in the figure. All graphs should have their axes clearly labeled.
  • Conclusion(s): brief summary of conclusions you can make from your results.
  • Acknowledgements: explain any support or contributions from other researchers and funding sources.
  • List essential references, if any.

Save your poster as a .pdf file at the desired dimensions. Check the .pdf file for accuracy before printing.

Principles and practical points:

  • Imagine your audience is other experimental biologists, who may or may not already know what you work on—you want to tell them about your work, convince them of the soundness of your results, and the interesting aspects of the experiment.
  • Make it easy to extract information and keep it simple. Use active text that communicates a conclusion. For example:

A overly complicated title: Studies of the effect of compound XYZ on caudal motor behavior in the dog.
A better title: Compound XYZ causes tail-wagging in dogs.

  • Graphics/tables should dominate; use text only to supplement. Text relevant to a figure should go with the figure. Remove non-essential information. Think bullets; this is not a manuscript.
  • What text there is must be large enough to be read at several feet away, minimum 5 mm (24 pt). Headings should be larger—to draw the reader into the parts. Material should be presented in an orderly flow.

Evaluate existing posters:

Wander the halls of the science buildings to see various examples of posters to get an idea of presentation styles, font sizes, etc. Some will strike you as being particularly effective for communicating your research results. Feel free to consult with faculty/students who made these posters to get details on style components. In some cases, they might have Powerpoint/Illustrator/Photoshop files available to use as templates.

Other resources:

There is a chapter on posters in Victoria E. McMillan's Writing papers in the biological sciences, Boston, Bedford/St. Martins, various editions.

The following websites have lots of good advice on basic organization/poster design.