Graduate students often participate in conferences, in formal presentations and conversations about their work with other participants during poster sessions and other events. Most frequently, academic conferences are organized by discipline but the UGA Graduate Student Association tried something different in April with their Interdisciplinary Research Conference and it seems to have been an overwhelming success. Among the unusual outcomes was the presentation of People's Choice Award at the conference, which went to psychology graduate student Brian Stone:
Stone's research focuses on the way the brain uses information from the senses to keep track of where the body is in space. This sensory information lets the brain know what is part of the body and what is an outside object.
By manipulating people's senses in the lab, psychologists have found that the brain can be tricked.
In his presentation, Stone highlighted the connection between sensory psychology and fields like robotics and engineering. Short-term applications include designing better prosthetics.
"(We can use) sensory tricks to incorporate an external object, like a prosthetic, into the body for someone like an amputee," Stone said.
The chance to discuss these broader implications of his research was what drew Stone to present at the Interdisciplinary Research Conference.
The idea of a conference like this is great and the Grad Student Association is to be commended. They know the importance of getting feedback from outside their disciplines and interacting with colleagues from other areas, which is why they organized such a conference. Even picking a favorite presentation is less of a competition and more of an acknowledgement of insightful work. Great job, and congratulations to Stone for being the People's Choice.