ECU Kicks Off Research and Creative Achievement Week

A line of posters, students and judges in Mendenhall Student Center kicked off East Carolina University’s 2018 Research and Creative Achievement Week on March 26.

Student presents at RCAW

At left, East Carolina University student Andra Glover discusses her research poster with judges at the 2018 Research and Creative Achievement Week. The event began Monday at Mendenhall Student Center and runs through April 2.

The 12th annual event features more than 440 research posters and presentations, giving undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students an opportunity to share their work with their peers and mentors.

RCAW allows students from all disciplines – from biomedical sciences to visual arts and design – to practice their presentation skills and interact with other creative scholars on campus. Judges, made up of ECU faculty, staff and graduate students, provide a balanced evaluation of the students’ work, grading them on subject knowledge, effective medium use, clarity and question response, and originality and creativity. Awards are presented at the end of the week to both poster and oral presenters.

For the first time, RCAW held an opening session and panel discussion. The event featured digital strategist Bridget Todd, MATCH Wellness co-director Suzanne Lazorick and 2BeatHIV director and Community Expert Solutions CEO Allison Mathews. The trio hosted the panel “Run with New Ideas: Using Research and Creative Achievement to Effect Real World Change.” Todd, Lazorick and Mathews discussed their work with underserved communities – including women, children and minorities – and took questions from the crowd.

Katina Hilliard, a graduate student in the College of Health and Human Performance, said she wanted to go through the learning experience of presenting her research to others. Hilliard and her co-researcher’s study focused on the relationship between staff practices in an after-school service program and school connectedness.

Research posters at RCAW

Research posters line the halls of Mendenhall Student Center for the opening of RCAW.

“Presenting at RCAW gives you a lot of practice in public speaking,” Hilliard said. “Presenting your research to others is a big part of the research process and this gives you an opportunity to share in a safe setting. In the future when I present at conferences, I’ll be able to use this experience to guide me.

“Every one of the judges and students that come through RCAW are here to help you,” she said. “They’re not here to criticize or put your work down; they’re here to build you up and make your work better.”

RCAW Chair and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Tom McConnell agreed with Hilliard, emphasizing the importance of students dipping their research toes into public speaking.

“RCAW is all centered around our students,” McConnell said. “We want to give them a number of learning opportunities. These presentations are often the first presentations ECU students give and they gain valuable communication skills in the process. They also learn how to work with teammates and mentors – important skills to master if they plan to continue their research initiatives in the future.”

RCAW will run until April 2. More information is at