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

Jan - Feb

Images of Research Competition

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School is proud to host its 1st 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: a photography / image contest! “Research” is defined broadly to include creative and scholarly work in all fields and the image can represent your work or its impact either concretely or abstractly. A “People’s Choice” award valued at $250 will be given to the photo with the most likes on OPD's Instagram and will be announced at the 3MT Campus Final on February 28, 2020. Submissions must be received by Monday, February 3, 2020.


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

Jan 27, 2020 | 2:30pm - 3:30pm | 538 Goodell

“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. Come learn the tips and tricks that will make you a more confident public speaker, convince your audience of your brilliance, and leave a lasting impression. 


Writing Successful Conference Proposals

Jan 28, 2020 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | 538 Goodell

Do you have research or a paper that you’re ready to take to the next step, but not sure where to start? Or, are you targeting a specific conference, and feeling eager to get started on your proposal? Come to this workshop to think about what conference will work best for you, and learn concrete writing strategies that will set your proposal apart and get conference chairs excited about your work. Snacks will be provided; please feel free to bring your lunch. 


Making Great Slides for Presentations

Jan 29, 2020 | 10:00am - 11:00am | 538 Goodell

Do you ever envy a presenter’s slick presentation? Do you wish you could convey your data simply and tell a great story that engages your audience? Come learn how to design slides that capture attention and convey your meaning! 


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