University of Maryland graduate students showcased their research Thursday in Stamp Student Union, sharing projects on topics including transportation accessibility and educational challenges.

This university’s Graduate Student Government hosts Graduate Research Appreciation Day annually. Judges at this year’s event — which was open to graduate and doctoral students across all departments — highlighted how it provides networking opportunities for students at all levels, from newcomers to those more advanced in their research.

“It’s a great first opportunity, even if they don’t have fully developed results that they would take to a big academic conference,” Linda Macri, the graduate school’s academic and professional development director, said. “It’s an opportunity to get that practice in a supportive environment.”

Tayo Taiwo, a community planning graduate student, presented research that examined the connections between transportation and accessibility with students at this university’s social life and well-being — especially students with disabilities.

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Being able to meet and listen to fellow students was his favorite part of the event, Taiwo said.

“This particular program actually created a network for me and [allowed me to] see students of the same caliber come up with groundbreaking research,” Taiwo said. “It’s promising that the future is bright.”

Jay Thomas, an alum of this university’s graduate school who served as a judge for the event, said opportunities that allow graduate students to talk with others who share similar experiences with research work are “helpful for mental health.”

Thomas joined many other judges at Thursday’s event. Judges were categorized by academic fields and top presenters received cash prizes.

Anna Lytkina, a TESOL education graduate student, said she enjoyed hearing from people outside her research area.
Lytkina’s presentation focused on the intersection of bilingual and special education. She highlighted the challenges that bilingual students with disabilities face and explained that they are often overlooked in educational settings.

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“Sometimes you need to get out of this field in order to pursue the bigger scale,” Lytkina said. “The feedback that was provided today, helped me to understand [education] from others’ points of view.”

Lytkina said her research seeks to integrate theoretical frameworks from bilingual and special education to improve how these students are identified and supported.

Ankur Mahesh, the Graduate Student Government’s operations director, organized this year’s event to empower students and allow them to practice conveying their research results in easy-to-understand ways, he said.

Because the event’s audience comes from from a variety of disciplines, presenters learn how to adapt their explanations to be understandable for everyone and prepare for an international market, Mahesh said.

Moving forward, Taiwo said that he is excited to showcase his research progress to the panelists next year.

“I’m coming back powerfully to next year’s master’s showcase to show my research and how far I’ve gone,” Taiwo said.