Sibley Graduate Research Symposium Summary

Am writing this note to summarize how the SGRS played out this past Thursday and Friday. You probably recall that the SGRS ( is a conference that the graduate students organized, funded, and executed; its goal was to catalyze students’ learning about each others’ work, to increase exposure between current students and alumni, to provide professional practice in speaking at conferences, chairing sessions and conferences, fundraising and organizing conferences, et cetera.


SGRS vs Admit Weekend


SGRS was conceived to overlap temporally with but be largely independent from admit weekend. The SGRS poster session/lunch and the admit weekend poster session were one and the same. SGRS awards were presented at the Saturday happy hour that we have during admit weekend. Otherwise, the two events were independent.




The conference keynote speaker, Todd Humphreys, a PhD graduate from our School in 2008 or so, gave a presentation Thursday afternoon in Phillips 101 to an audience of about 65 following a day of meetings with a few faculty but mostly students and student groups. His travel, accommodations, and honorarium were funded by the students’ fundraising efforts, which culminated in six sponsors (




A two-track series of student oral presentations were featured in 109 and 111 Upson during Friday afternoon. The audience was primarily Sibley School graduate students, about 20-40 students at any one time. Although the conference was open to faculty and admitted students that weren’t busy with meetings, the organizers assumed that faculty and admitted PhDs would be booked with meetings as part of admit weekend.




Both Corporate Relations and the Cornell Chronicle indicated interest in actively advertising/participating in next year’s SGRS.




Awards were presented at the SiGMA Happy Hour on Saturday.  Top oral presentations were selected from each track and awards (in the form of textbooks from Cambridge University Press and Wiley Press) were presented to six students:

Corning Inc. Best Presentation Award: Zachary Manchester

SJB Industries, LLC Best Presentation Award: Ranjith Thirunagari

Cambridge University Press Best Presentation Award: Timothy Lannin
Wiley Press Best Presentation Award: Rodrigo Zeldon
Robert H. Thurston Memorial Best Presentation Award: Frank Havlak
CAEC Best Presentation Award: Abhishek Srivastava
Three best poster awards were given:
Francis C. Moon Best Poster Award: Naigeng Chen
K.K. Wang Best Poster Award: Huichan Zhao and Sanlin Robinson
Edwin L. Resler, Jr. Best Poster Award: Daniel Asselin


The SGRS organizing committee comprised 8 PhD students and one MEng student and is listed below (co-chairs in bold):

Lara Backer

Robert Carson

Stephanie Firehammer

Dan Houck

Bryan Peele

Neola Putnam

Michael Santiago

Meenakshi Sundaram
Bo Yang
Thanks to the committee for all of its efforts, and to Marcia Sawyer and Judy Thoroughman for all of their work to coordinate SGRS *and * the admit weekend.


Interested in helping to organize SGRS 2015?  I’d start by contacting Eddie Bonnevie, Robert Carson, and Stephanie Firehammer.  They probably know what to do next.