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

Jun - Dec

Virtual Coffee Shop: An Online Writing Community for Grad Students & Postdocs

Jun 1, 2021 - Dec 31, 2021 | Online with OPD!

Do you need accountability and support for your academic writing? OPD is hosting a "Virtual Coffee Shop," an online space to regularly connect with others about their writing. We'll have space to set weekly goals, do pomodoros together, connect in small stage-based groups, and share fun stuff. This community is open to UMass graduate students and post docs working on any part of writing and research. After you preregister for the “Virtual Coffee Shop,” you will be emailed all of the information.


Developing Your Elevator Pitch

Aug 11, 2021 | 2:00pm - 3:00pm | 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 Practicing Your Elevator Pitch on August 24th.


Practicing Your Elevator Pitch

Aug 24, 2021 | 3:00pm - 4:00pm | Online with OPD!

It’s never too early to practice your elevator pitch! Join the Office of Professional Development (OPD) staff for this opportunity to practice in an informal, supportive environment. We will provide feedback and tips for improving your pitch and tailoring it for different purposes.


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

Sep 14, 2021 | 4:00pm - 5:00pm | 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. 


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