Student Symposium Competition

Highlighting the research achievements of microbiology trainees at various stages of their academic careers

What is the Student Symposium Competition?

The student symposium competition is intended to offer microbiology trainees at various stages the opportunity to highlight their research achievements with their peers at the annual CSM conference. There are many benefits for students who participate in this competition with the aim of being eligible for various Student Symposium Awards. If you are one of the 12 students selected for the Student Symposium (Participants will be declared after the competition deadline): 

  • Competitors participate in the travel bursary
  • Competitors receive a certificate of participation
  • Competitors have the opportunity to win a cash prize and a plaque from CSM

Awards will be presented to the top ranked student oral presentations and their extended abstracts.


Deadline for Extended Abstract Submission: Please Refer to the Annual Conference Abstract Submission

Previous competition winners will not be allowed to participate in the upcoming student competition in the category they previously won. A maximum of twelve (12) oral presentations will be made in a Student Award Symposium. The selection of students invited to the competition symposium will be made on the basis of a their submitted written extended abstract ranking by the CSM Education and Careers Committee. The twelve top ranked abstracts will invited to present their abstract findings at the competition symposium. Depending on the num ber of high ranking extended abstracts, some students who submit extended abstracts may also be invited to present their work in non-competition CSM conference symposia. Students who did not qualify to enter the symposium are encouraged to present their work as a poster at the conference, and will not be considered for any other competitions.  The student who is participating in the Student Symposium Competition must be a member of the CSM and registered for “in-person registration”.

Travel Bursary

The CSM will be providing some assistance to students competing in the CSM Student Award Competition.  A total of $2,000.00 will be available to help defray the travel costs of students who have been selected to compete in the competition. This is a bursary, not a prize, and those who have the greatest/ furthest travel expenses will be favored the most with these funds.

The 12 students selected to compete in the CSM Student Award Competition are eligible to receive reimbursement from the CSM for travel costs (or portion thereof) incurred in attending the Annual Conference. The Education Committee Chairs will determine the amounts to be allocated based on the location of each student from the conference, and they will advise each student of the amount that will be provided before the conference.

Award Sponsors

One award of $500 and a certificate presented by the Atlantic Canada Society for Microbial Ecology. The award will be presented for the top ranked student oral presentation in microbial ecology.

The Award is sponsored by CSP in the amount of $500 and a certificate. It will be presented to one of the top ranked student presentations as part of the Student Awards Symposium.

One award of $500 and a plaque. The Award is sponsored by Cedarlane & will be presented to the top ranked student presentation as part of the Student Awards Symposium.

One award of $500 and a certificate. The award will be presented to one of the top ranked student presentations as part of the Student Awards Symposium.

Student Symposium Competition Guidelines

Entry Details

To enter the competition, students must do the following:

  1. To enter this competition, the student must first submit a 300 words abstract online via the Annual Conference website deadline At that time of submitting their regular abstract via the Conference website, the student should also indicate their intention on the to enter the competition and prepare a separate extended abstract. A student cannot submit more than 1 extended abstract as the presenting author in this competition.
  2. In addition to submitting the general (300-500 word) conference abstract, the extended abstract must be submitted in PDF format by its deadline via the online abstract submission form. Please enter the correct competition category. Students can only apply to the oral competition or the poster competition, not both. 
  3. The extended abstract format. The extended abstract must have its own brief mini-abstract consisting at the start consisting of no more than 50 words for English language submissions or 70 words for French language submissions. As part of the main extended abstract text, include a brief introduction, methods, results, and discussion. For English language extended abstracts this text must not exceed 1000 words; for French language extended abstracts this text must not exceed 1300 words. Please include and cite relevant references. All extended abstracts must include the title and a listing of all the contributing authors related to this work and their affiliations with the name of the student who submitted the abstract underlined; these additions do not count towards the 1000-word text limit of the main text for English language submissions or the 1300 word limit for French language submissions. A maximum of 4 figures and/or tables is allowed and do not count towards the abstract text limit. Figures and tables are strongly encouraged to be included as they are part of the adjudication scoring process. Materials and methods should be described in the extended abstract text, not in figure legends or table footnotes. The literature cited section should conform to the format used by the Canadian Journal of Microbiology. Please refer to the extended abstract template here for layout and formatting suggestions.
  4. The competition extended abstracts will be adjudicated as follows:
    • Extended abstracts submitted for the CSM Student Symposium Award by the deadline will be processed and reviewed by the CSM Education & Careers Committee and CSM Section Chairs.
    • Extended abstracts received by the Chair of the Education Committee will be distributed to members of the committee (which include a CSM Section Chair) for judging.  The extended abstracts will be judged according to their scientific merit (see Competition Guidelines below).  The students will be notified as to whether or not their submission is selected for the Student Oral Symposium a few weeks prior to the conference..
    • For evaluation of the oral presentations, the Chair of the Education Committee will select a panel of at least three (3) members from the Education Committee, the Graduate Scholarship Committee, or the membership at large to grade the oral presentations.  This panel will not include members of the Education Committee involved in the pre-judging (see Competition Guidelines below) not the symposium chair.
    • At the conference, the three symposium winners will be selected on the basis of scores from the their extended abstract assessment and their oral presentation scoring.  Winners will be announced at the awards session by the Chair of the Education and Careers Committee at the CSM banquet.

Competition Guidelines

1) Written Submission

Members of the Education Committee will review each extended abstract submitted for the competition and award a mark out of 40, as follows:

  • Scientific merit (20 marks): Is the work scientifically sound?  Does the work significantly advance knowledge in the discipline?  Are the methods and results reliable?  Do the results support the conclusions?
  • Clearly defined objectives of the research (5 marks).
  • Strict adherence of the abstract in length and format guidelines.  (For example, is the bibliography presented in CJM style?) (10 marks).
  • Suitability of Figures and Tables for presentation (5 marks).

2) Oral Presentation

Each presentation will last a maximum of 12 minutes followed by 3 minutes for questions from the audience.  The panel of judges will evaluate the presentations (70 marks).  The judges have no knowledge of the written evaluation and rate each presentation using the following criteria:

  • A brief and lucid introduction to the research (5 marks).  A person unfamiliar with the subject should be able to ascertain what the research is about and what knowledge currently exists on the subject.
  • A clear definition of the objectives of the work (5 marks).
  • A clear, audible speaking style and speed at all times (5 marks).
  • The student addresses the audience rather than the notes, blackboard, slides, or feet (5 marks).
  • Distinctly visible, understandable, and properly labeled graphics (Figures, Tables, etc.) (10 marks).
  • The student specifically indicates to the audience the significant information contained in the graphics (15 marks).
  • The scientific content of the paper is of good quality and the message is clearly imparted to the audience (10 marks).
  • A summary or a list of conclusions is presented at the end of the talk (5 marks).
  • Ending within the allotted time. (5 marks).
  • Ability to respond to questions (5 marks).