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The Clemson University Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS) is an annual conference-style research competition organized by Clemson’s Graduate Student Government (GSG) in association with the Graduate School. Traditionally held during the Spring semester, GRADS showcases the innovative and outstanding research being done by graduate students across all seven of Clemson’s colleges. GRADS offers all graduate students the opportunity to present their research through a variety of formats. The event is usually organized as a mini conference within the graduate student body, creating networking and collaboration opportunities across different departments and disciplines of graduate study.

iGRADS 2024

In a break from the past, GRADS 2024 will be held completely online (GRADS → iGRADS) so as to ensure that students from our remote campuses and online programs can compete on an equal footing with those on our main campus. Additionally, to help diversify student skill set, iGRADS will feature a brand new format this year with the following theme:

Public Engagement through Creative Communication
As such, the competition will consist of preliminary and final rounds. For the college level preliminary round, students will submit 3-minute-long self-recordings of their work. The top 2 submissions from each College will advance to the finals (16 finalists). In the final round, students will submit 4 minute video abstracts of their research and compete against candidates from other Colleges to win the iGRADS 2023 championship. The following sections include details about the awards, rules, and format of the preliminary and final rounds.

Competition Timeline

Date Event
Feb 2 iGRADS info session
Feb 23 Submissions due for preliminary rounds (at 11:59 pm)
Mar 8 Finalists announced
Mar 9 onwards Bootcamp with Adobe Digital Studio
April 1 onwards Individual sessions w/ Dr Van Puymbroeck
April 10 Submissions due for final rounds (at 11:59 pm)
April 19 Finals


Preliminary Rounds Award Amount
First Place $100
Second Place $50
Preliminary level awards are given to the top two submissions from each College.
Final Round Award Amount
First Place $3000
Second Place $2000
Third Place $1000
Creating videos is hard work! We hope these prizes prove an ample reward for your efforts! Should you win, the Faculty Advisor Incentive is additional funding that goes directly into your advisor’s lab account to be used for any research expense.


The competition is open to all graduate students who are enrolled either full time or part-time at Clemson University.

Format and Rules for Preliminary Round


Each participant will submit a 3-minute-long self-recording of their research work in a way that is understandable to a non-specialist audience. In addition to the self-recording, participants will submit a brief abstract of at most 100 words.

Rules and general guidance:

  • The video recording should be made in English.
  • Participants will directly look into the camera and speak about their research.
  • Preferably, the video frame should capture the participant from the waist up.
  • The video should not include animations, illustrations, text, graphics, slides, poster or lab footage.
  • The contents of the video should be clear, coherent, and understandable to a wide range of general audiences.
  • The abstract and video must be submitted in a powerpoint template provided by the organizing committee.
  • We recommend using a good camera and professional static background/background pertaining to your research for your recording in case you plan on using this video for your resume/LinkedIn profile/YouTube channel/lab website.
  • Preliminary round videos must be submitted before 11:59 pm EDT on the indicated due date via Canvas. The deadline cannot be extended
  • Rename the powerpoint template as
    College Name_Your Name
    CAFLS_John Smith

Self-recording framework

Participants are allowed to choose a framework that is best suited to explain their research both clearly and concisely. An example of a self-recording framework is provided below as a reference.

Example framework.

  1. Introduce yourself (name, department/college)
  2. Introduce the research topic/area to the audience. (Feel free to use creative opening sentences to capture the viewers’ attention)
  3. Explain your underlying research question and why you chose to solve it.
  4. Explain the methodologies you used to conduct your research and lay out the results.
  5. Explain how the output of your research will benefit society and the public at large.
  6. Summarize your work and tie it all together.
  7. Throughout the video, please be mindful that your narration should be comprehensible to a non-specialist audience. So, please keep it simple, clear, and concise.

Self-recording video technical requirements

  • Format:.mov or .mp4 (.mp4 preferred).
  • Resolution (frame size): 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) or 720p (1280 x 720 pixels). Use an aspect ratio of 16:9
  • Size: Not exceeding 500MB (abstract + recording)

Evaluation criteria

A panel of judges will evaluate the recordings, and the top 2 candidates from each college will advance to the finals. The evaluation rubric is provided here. Here are some sample recordings (please be sure not to include any text/graphics in your prelim videos):

Format and Rules for the Final Round


Finalists will submit visually attractive, coherently crafted video abstracts that explain their research in a manner that appeals to a non-specialist audience. During the final round, the videos will be played to a virtual audience which will include an all-star panel of judges. Finalists are required to make themselves available for a 2-minute live virtual Q&A session following playback of their video. The final competition will be hosted via Zoom Webinar.

Training and Bootcamp

All finalists will be provided individual and group training sessions by the Associate Dean of the Graduate School (Dr. Marieke Van Puymbroeck) and a member of Clemson University's Adobe Digital Studio.

Video content

  • Video abstracts are an audiovisual version of conventional presentations. Video abstracts can include, but are not limited to, pictures, illustrations, animations, lab footage, short interview clips, self-recordings, etc.
  • All video abstracts must be original and appropriate for a general audience.
  • The length of the video abstract must be at most 4 minutes, including any opening title information and closing credits.
  • Use accessible vocabulary and limit highly specific jargon and academic language.
  • Make sure the text included in your video can be read.
  • The narration in the video should be in English.
  • Try and limit the number of complicated figures or the amount of raw data. Hold the attention of your audience by providing straightforward and readily understandable results.
  • Adding background music to your video narration is optional but is recommended to enhance the overall video quality. (Several free-to-use background music is available online, if interested)
  • Videos must comply with copyright rules and regulations. Sources of information and materials used (i.e., music) must be appropriately acknowledged and credited in the video.
  • All videos should follow the Clemson University guidelines about academic integrity and avoid using inappropriate language. 
  • Videos may be uploaded to our Box folder/Google Drive (link to be provided later)
  • Videos must be named as
    College Name_Your Name
    CBSHS_Jane Doe

Video format

  • Finalists can submit their video abstracts in .mov or .mp4 (.mp4 preferred).
  • Resolution (frame size): at least 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) with aspect ratio of 16:9
  • Size: <5GB


Captions or subtitles are not compulsory but are recommended additions to your video abstract. They will make your abstract accessible both to the deaf and hearing-impaired community, as well as to individuals who have a hard time understanding the narration pace.

If you choose to add captions, there are several resources online that you could take help from. For example, Rev.com will accurately add closed captions to your video files for $1.5 per minute, and they will often deliver the final product to you within twenty-four hours.

For transcripts (optional), please refer to https://www.alphr.com/how-to-get-transcript-youtube-video/ Transcripts will not show up on the video, but is an option that works toward accessibility.

Video framework

In the spirit of the competition's theme, finalists are allowed the freedom to construct a framework suitable for creatively explaining their research. To begin with, an example of a framework is provided below for reference. The layout of the video could follow (not necessarily) a basic format as provided below:

  1. Introduction with an exciting remark/statement: Aim to keep your video simple and straightforward to engage the audience and keep them interested all along. For example, you can choose to tell a story or ask a thoughtful question that will hook your viewers within the first 30 seconds and keep them watching until the end. Example introduction question: Have you ever wondered why butterflies have such vibrant colors? My name is John Smith, and in this video, I am going to show you why butterflies are counted among the most beautiful insects on our planet.”
  2. The “What”: What specific question is your project/research/work trying to answer? Try to make this a continuation of the introduction and slowly draw the audience into the particular question.
  3. The ‘Why”: Why is solving or understanding the question at hand significant? How is the research going to affect the public or society at large? Why was the question unanswered before you began your research, and how solving this problem might advance knowledge in your field?
  4. The “How” Describe, in simple language, how you approached the problem. You can start setting up your story in how you conducted the study or how you devised strategies and methods to help uncover findings/results.
  5. The “Findings”: Here you can dwell into the details of your findings, again keeping in mind that the explanation must appeal to a non-specialist audience. You can creatively choose to explain the types of experiments you ran, the literature you reviewed, the data you collected and analyzed, and the specifics of the results you found and what they might mean.
  6. The “Summary”: Tie it all together and make your story complete. You can remind the viewer of the problem your work has solved and bring it back home to explain what bearing that has on their life.
  7. Call for action: (Optional): If your work was on the importance of having a 30-minute walk every day, then encourage your viewers to get out and walk. Or ask your viewer to download the published manuscript (if available) and read it

Evaluation criteria

A panel of judges will evaluate the recordings using the rubric provided here. If you would like to see examples of video abstracts, please take a look below.

Here are two examples of highly professional video abstracts. We do not recommend such high production value unless, of course, you have extensive video creation experience.

iGRADS - Value to students

  • Allows students to leverage the media trifecta - “written, sound, and visual” - to strengthen the message.
  • Teaches them to prepare video abstracts to accompany written publications, resulting in better citation scores.
  • Using videos to communicate research can heighten public engagement, which helps find new collaborators, attracts increased public/private funding, and impresses potential employers.
  • It enables them to use their voice to add a personal touch to their work, letting people see the human side of research.
  • Allows students to learn skills that diversify their professional portfolio.
  • Preparing and posting such videos (to YouTube or on LinkedIn profiles) can significantly boost confidence, sharpen communication skills, and indicate professional development.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Virginia Clark (veclark@g.clemson.edu)

Arohi Singhal (arohis@g.clemson.edu)


  1. Yasir Mahmood
    Department of Mechanical Engineering - College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences

  1. Jeffrey Spencer Hatfield
    Department of Genetics & Biochemistry - College of Science

  1. Clare Escamilla
    Department of Plant & Environmental Sciences - College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences


  1. Melissa Munoz - Plant & Environmental Sciences
  2. Vishal Manjunatha - Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences
  3. Roshan Venkatakrishnan - Human Centered Computing

People's Choice Vishal Manjunatha - Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences


  1. Lauren O'Connell - College of Science
  2. Bridget Blood - College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences
  3. Sara Krivacek - College of Business

People's Choice Paritra Mandal - College of Engineering, Computing, and Sciences

GRADS 2020

As a result of complications stemming from COVID-19, no GRADS event was held in 2020.

GRADS 2019

The GRADS 2019 event took place during Clemson’s Research Week in April. The competition included poster contests, lecture presentations, and 5-minute lightning talks. GRADS 2019 also had speakers from the industry and from Adobe, Clemson presenting talks aimed at improving graduate students' career prospects and skill sets! CASH PRIZES will be awarded for the poster competition!

Here are some pictures of the 2019 GRADS! (Must have a Clemson email address to view photos)


College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
  1. Herminia Machry | PhD Candidate
  2. Rutali Joshi | PhD Student
  3. Autumn Wines | Masters Student

College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences
  1. Hamdi Zurqani | PhD Candidate
  2. Saad M. Hussein | PhD Student
  3. Bhupinder Jatana | PhD Student

College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences
  1. Sarah Beadle | PhD Student
  2. Alena Hofrova | PhD Candidate
  3. Kaitlin Mueller | PhD Candidate

College of Business
  1. Shubhasritha Basu | PhD Candidate
  2. Sarah Wilson | PhD Candidate
  3. Bob Wen | PhD Candidate

College of Science
  1. Pubudu Jayasekara | PhD Student
  2. Stephanie LaPlaca | PhD Student
  3. Lauren O’Connell | PhD Student

College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences
  1. Jessica Deaver | PhD Student
  2. Emily Blair | Masters
  3. Harish Konduru | PhD Candidate

College of Education
  1. Robert O’Hara | PhD Student
  2. Juan Li | PhD Candidate
  3. Kristina Randall | PhD Student

Ignite Session Award - Lauren Stephens, PhD candidate, PRTM

Big Tent Digital Literacy’s ‘Best poster’ award
  1. Katerina Zapfe, Masters student, Department of Biological sciences
  2. Qianyi Gao, PhD student, Teaching and Learning
  3. Benjamin Schmidt, Masters student, Department of Forestry and Environmental conservation
Lecture Session Awards
  1. Vishal Joseph Thomas, PhD student, Bioengineering
  2. Murwan Siddig, PhD student, Industrial Engineering
  3. Anthony Santilli, Doctoral candidate, Chemistry

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