Students Showcase Research at Second Annual Master’s SynThesis Competition

February 20, 2020
Stephanie Sardelis, Brandi Cannon, and Ishita Pektar

Grassroots feminism in China. Nineteenth-century royal portraiture. The direction of time in electromagnetic radiation. MA students presented on these varied subjects—and many others—at the second annual GSAS Master’s Synthesis Competition, held on May 4, 2017, in the Satow Room of Lerner Hall. At the event, fifteen master’s candidates met the challenge of sharing their thesis research in no more than five minutes and four slides, without the use of notes, in front of an audience of students, alumni, and faculty.

“This is a celebration of our master’s candidates and their outstanding culminating work, as well as an invaluable opportunity for these students to develop stronger presentation and persuasion skills, which will serve them well in any career,” said Carlos J. Alonso, dean of GSAS.

The top prize went to Stephanie Sardelis, from the Conservation Biology program, for her presentation Quantifying the Influence of Daylight on Marine Mammal Vocalizations in the North Bering Sea. Brandi Cannon, another Conservation Biology student, earned second place for Conservation of Endangered American Chaffseed, and Ishita Pektar, a recent graduate of the Human Rights Studies program, came in third for Conceptualizing Free, Prior and Informed Consent: Interpreting Interpretations of FPIC.

“The event was a great segue from academic life into the job market, because it taught us how to condense the main points of our theses down to an elevator pitch that was accessible and interesting,” said Sardelis. “Amid the stress of finishing my thesis and final exams, the competition allowed me to ‘zoom out’ on my project, and reminded me why our work is important.”

A judging panel composed of interdisciplinary faculty evaluated the presentations for both content and style. The judges were Frédérique Baumgartner, lecturer and director of the MA program in Art History; Mary Marshall Clark, codirector and cofounder of the MA program in Oral History; Josh Drew, lecturer in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology and advisor for the MA program in Conservation Biology; and Line Lillevik, director of the MA/MSc program in International and World History.

Winning Presentations


Sarah Bruner
Conservation Biology

Brandi Cannon
Conservation Biology

Salwa Hoque
South Asian Studies

Jaime (Feng-Yuan) Hsu

Elizabeth Kim
Modern European Studies

Grace Musser
Conservation Biology

Ediz Ozelkan
American Studies

Miriam McKinney
Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences

Shriya Patnaik
International and World History

Ishita Petkar
Human Rights Studies

Yi Qie

Stephanie Sardelis
Conservation Biology

Cristie Strongman
Regional Studies: Latin America and the Caribbean

Kathleen Tatem
Philosophical Foundations of Physics

John Webley
Art History