The ability to effectively communicate your research to a variety of audiences is an essential professional skill. From building healthy writing habits to preparing for conferences to dissertation writing retreats, OPD helps students and postdocs improve their writing and presenting skills through a variety of programs offered throughout the year.


I see myself as a successful researcher, but if I didn't develop complementary skills—if I couldn't lead, present, or write—I wouldn't have the tools to effectively communicate what I'm researching. I have attended many OPD workshops and have benefited greatly. I have also encouraged graduate students in our lab, department and across campus to consider both their professional and academic development; these two things go hand-in-hand to ensure success in securing the right job and excelling in your career. 

Elroy Aguiar (Former Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate, Kinesiology)

Upcoming Events

Dec - Feb

Images of Research Competition 2021

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School is proud to host its 2nd annual Images of Research Competition! In academia, the act of research often goes unseen. This competition seeks to make graduate student and postdoc research visible in a literal sense: an image contest! “Research” is defined broadly to include creative and scholarly work in all fields and the image (photo, collage, illustration) can represent your work or its impact either concretely or abstractly. Prizes will be given in three categories! Submissions must be received by Tuesday, February 9, 2021.


Public Speaking—for the Anxious and the Not-So-Anxious

Jan 18, 2021 | 10:00am - 11:00am | Online with OPD!

“There are only two types of speakers in the world: the nervous and the liars.”–Mark Twain. Speaking to an audience is important for your professional life, but that doesn’t mean we get a lot of training in it. Learn some tips and tricks that will make you a more confident public speaker, convince your audience of your brilliance, and leave a lasting impression.


Developing Your Elevator Pitch

Jan 19, 2021 | 10:00am - 11:30am | Online with OPD!

Whether your goal is to communicate the relevance of your work, recruit a potential collaborator, or impress a prospective employer, success hinges on your ability to articulate what you are doing and why it is worth doing. In this first session, participants will learn about elevator pitch structure and draft a baseline elevator pitch. Participants are strongly encouraged to return for next week’s practice session.


Writing Session Clinic: Warm-Up and Cool-Down to Keep Your Writing Going

Jan 19, 2021 | 3:15pm - 4:45pm | Online with OPD!

Does it feel like if you don’t have three hours to write, there’s no point trying? Is it hard to get going or to stop? This workshop presents time management and writing habits that can help make even thirty minutes productive. We will practice the act of the individual writing session together, giving you an experience you can replicate on your own.


Additional Resources

Graduate students and post doctoral students may access many other support systems to improve their communication skills.

  • The UMass Amherst Writing Center offers face-to-face and online consultations to help graduate students and postdocs clarify ideas, reorganize text, set writing goals and build productive writing practices.

  • The Public Engagement Project organizes events to help researchers contribute to social change, inform public policy, and enrich public debate.

  • The UMass Amherst science community challenges researchers to make their work accessible to a wide range of audiences through the Life Science Café and That’s Life [Science] blog.


Contact us for more information on OPD’s communication workshops and assistance.

Dissertation retreat participants