Research Posters 101

Posted in Advice, APA, Graduate School

So you’re presenting a poster at convention – congrats! Now what? If you’re new to research posters here are some handy tips about poster design and printing to get you started:

APAGS Poster Session at the 2015 APA Convention in Toronto.

APAGS Poster Session at the 2015 APA Convention in Toronto.

Poster Design

Size & Design – The first task will be to figure out how big you want your poster to be and what program you’ll be using to design it. The acceptance letter will tell you the size of board you have to put your poster up on – I would recommend choosing a size that is slightly smaller than this. For example, if the letter states 4ft x 6ft, you might want to print 3ft x 5ft. Poster design websites (e.g., will have downloadable templates in standard sizes that will get you started. If you want to design your poster sans template, people typically use Microsoft Powerpoint and design their poster on a single slide. The important part here is to adjust the size of the slide to the size you want to print (Design > Page Set Up > Custom – this may vary depending on your version of the program).

Keep it simple – The next step is figuring out what to put on your poster. Less is more! Think about your research question and take-home message and design your poster around this. Many people will be passing through quickly and the goal is to present your findings at a glance. I know it’s hard to cut out detail, but remember that you’ll be there to answer any questions about methods, measures and minutiae that come up!

Be creative, but keep it thematic. If you can adapt your findings or present your materials in a visual format – go for it! Just be sure to label everything clearly and include only the information that is crucial to your message. You don’t want the visual elements to distract from or undermine the message.

Poster Printing

After you design your poster, it’s time to get it printed! Many universities and colleges have in-house printing services, and most college towns will have print shops with competitive prices on research posters. There are also several websites that specialize in printing research posters. These have the added bonus that you can have your poster delivered right to your hotel at convention. While I’ve never had issues with this before, I would be wary of this method if I was presenting near the beginning of convention (to give you time to re-order if it didn’t arrive).

Another thing to consider is if you want to print a paper poster, which is traditional, or go with a fabric or digital poster. I haven’t seen many digital posters, but think this option could be beneficial if you want a cheap and interactive display. If you are interested in going digital, first check that it’s an option that will be available to you, and second, make a contingency plan in the case of technical glitches (e.g., have extra printed copies of the poster, have the contact information for A/V support on site, etc.). Fabric posters can be more expensive, but they’ve been coming down in price. These can be great if you’re traveling a long distance and want the convenience of putting your poster in your suitcase or convention bag. With this option, you may need to iron your poster to take out any creases due to the folding.

Other Considerations

Print letter-sized copies of your poster for people to take with them, or at the very least, have a place for people to leave their contact information for you to send digital copies (or have a QR code for people to scan).

Also, think about how you’ll transport your poster to convention. If you’re printing a paper poster, will you need a poster tube? If you’re flying and bringing a tube as a carry-on, consider sharing the tube (and any luggage fees) with a friend. Also, think about the logistics of carrying your poster tube plus whatever else you’re bringing to convention (e.g., briefcase, shoulder bag) to ensure its manageable.

Lastly, posters are one of the areas where academics get to show off their creative side. Have fun with it!

Signing on for Acceptance: Can Adding Your Gender Pronouns to Your Email Signature Make a Difference?

Posted in Advocacy, Graduate School
Adding your preferred pronouns to your email signature is one of many ways to advocate for and with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. (Image source: DaveBleasdale on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Adding your preferred pronouns to your email signature is one of many ways to advocate for and with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. (Image source: Dave Bleasdale on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

For many of us, especially those of us who hold more privileged identities, a trip to the doctor might not be enjoyable but we can at least assume we will receive relatively respectful service. However, for individuals who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC), seeking healthcare can be challenging and at times even dangerous.

According to a study conducted by Lambda Legal:

  • Over one quarter (27%) of TGNC individuals have reported being refused healthcare due to their gender identity.
  • 70% of TGNC people report having experienced explicit discrimination from healthcare professionals, including providers refusing to touch them or using excessive precautions, or blaming the individual for their health status.
  • More than one in five people who identify as TGNC reported experiencing harsh or abusive language from healthcare providers.
  • Nearly 8% of TGNC individuals stated they have experienced physically rough or abusive treatment.
  • TGNC people of color and people who are low-income reporting higher rates of these forms of mistreatment.

These negative interactions with the healthcare system serve as a barrier that prevents TGNC people from receiving sufficient medical treatment, leading to higher rates of preventable illnesses. (For a more personal look at the importance of inclusivity and acceptance in the healthcare setting, check out this video by NYC Health and Hospitals.)

It is clear that there is an urgent need to improve inclusivity for transgender and gender nonconforming people, not only in society at large, but also specifically in the healthcare contexts where we may be working. However, sometimes it can feel daunting to take on something as big as the healthcare system, not to mention society’s attitudes toward gender identity in general.

So what can we do about that as students?

This year healthcare professionals, including psychology students, have worked together to lead several initiatives to address these disparities. For example, Washington, DC recently passed the LGBTQ Cultural Competency Continuing Education Amendment Act that will require cultural competency training for all healthcare providers practicing in Washington DC on topics of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is believed to be the first bill of its kind in the nation to pass, but similar bills have been proposed in other states. Does your state have a bill like this in the works? Connect with your local government and LGBT advocacy organizations to find out!

In another effort that we all can directly participate in, Medical students at the University of Vermont and the Northeast Medical Student Queer Alliance are leading the charge on a simple but powerful way to promote greater awareness and inclusion for TGNC individuals. In honor of LGBTQ Health Awareness Week (Mar. 28-Apr. 1, 2016), they created the hashtag “#pushforpronouns” and are encouraging everyone to add their preferred pronouns into their email signature. (See what kind of traction #pushforpronouns is getting on Twitter.)

My email signature now reads:

“University of Wisconsin – Madison

Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program

APAGS Subcommittee Chair:

Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity

Pronouns: She/her”

By including our preferred pronouns in email signatures, we normalize asking about the pronouns of others and volunteering our own pronouns. This can help create a more inclusive atmosphere for individuals who do identify as TGNC by indicating we are accepting of all gender identities and aware of the importance of using preferred pronouns. The direct presentation of pronouns may help challenge assumptions about the gender binary by encouraging email recipients in our communities and workplaces to think and talk about gender pronouns. In this way a small action, like adding our preferred pronouns to our email signature, may be one step along the pathway to creating a more inclusive and accepting society and healthcare system for all people.

Join us in the #pushforpronouns!

Denver, A Beautiful City with Additional Freedoms!

Posted in Graduate School

While at the APA Convention, APAGS hopes you enjoy some of the amazing attractions and nature sites available to you while in Denver. For those who enjoy art, the Museum of Contemporary Art offers a range of regional, national and international artists and exhibitions rotate in and out of the museum, typically staying for two to four months. There is no permanent collection. There are, however, lecture series throughout the year on Thursday evenings and there are engaging education programs for teens. Visitors can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a glass of wine on the rooftop terrace and shop for quirky items from around the world in the compact museum shop (, 2016). While we on the APAGS Convention Committee do hope you take in the arts, we also would like to recommend an outdoor activity to take in some of the natural beauty in Denver.

A fine example of some outdoor leisure activity is Red Rocks. For those who enjoy more fitness related entertainment, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre offers a variety of recreation options for everyone. Visitors to Red Rocks are treated to 868 acres of deer, dinosaurs, pines and prairie, geological wonders and spectacular vistas. At 6,450 feet above sea level, Red Rocks Park is a unique transitional zone where the Great Plains meets the Rocky Mountains. The diverse environment allows visitors to see plants, birds, and animals of both regions. Whatever your pleasure, enjoy discovering the venue and park (, 2016). While hiking and enjoying the sun can be very pleasurable, there is also something great about taking in a tasty meal. Denver over the years has become a beacon for amazing restaurants and eateries!

After you have spent a long day networking, presenting, and conferencing, a nice dinner may be just what hits the spot. Where better to try than Fruition. Open only for dinner, the Fruition Restaurant offers a menu of upscale comfort food honed by Chef Alex Seidel (Loomis, 2016). What Seidel and Fruition offer the diner is an experience of food sourced from a 10-acre farm. The farm is where Seidel, a hands-on farmer, produces fruits, vegetables, and cheese and raising animals for his restaurant. This hands-on experience has helped Fruition remains very popular, therefore reservations are a must. We hope you get to take advantage of being in Denver and enjoy a dining experience that you may not get in your home state. At the same time, if you are like us (and most graduate students) and are travelling on a budget Denver has many excellent FREE things to do!

There is much to see and do for free in Denver if you know where to look. It won’t cost a penny, for instance, to climb to the 15th step of the Colorado State Capitol building and snap an Instagram worthy selfie standing exactly 5,280-feet (or a mile high) above the sea. Inside, tours of the capitol are also free and reveal some historically intriguing conversation starters (Blond, 2016). It’s also free to walk the city’s many neighborhoods like Lower-Downtown or LoDo, the hip downtown shopping and dining district, where you’ll also uncover the city’s most revered bookstore, the Tattered Cover, where whole afternoons can be lost reading in the shop’s comfortable chairs. Taking in the sites, enjoying a nice dinner, and saving cash on free entertainment are just a few of the things you can enjoy while visiting Denver for APA. However, another part of the Denver experience are the freedoms it offers.

And let’s be real. Colorado, much like a few other states, has certain freedoms other states do not. Now as the saying goes, with great freedom comes great responsibility. This responsibility is especially important for those who are in the middle of the internship process. The following are clips from known internship settings:

  • As part of the interview process, applicants must satisfactorily pass a security clearance procedure that includes a computerized Core Values Assessment (CVA), a pre-employment interview, an integrity interview which addresses issues of personal conduct, a subject matter expert interview, and a drug test.
  • Applicants matched to the internship should understand that prior to beginning the internship they will be required to successfully pass a brief medical examination, which includes a drug test.
  • VA conducts drug screening exams on randomly selected personnel as well as new employees. Interns can be required to be tested prior to beginning work, and once on staff are subject to random drug testing as are other staff members.

Each of the clips indicate a common theme for those applying to veteran’s administration settings or correctional facility settings: drug testing. For those who are beginning their placement in August or early September it is wise to note that generally standard urine tests can detect traces of THC several days after use, in the case of heavy users urine tests can sometimes detect THC traces for weeks after use stops (, 2015). It is wise to be aware of your diet before and after marijuana use, your fitness level, and frequently of use. For example, those with little body fat who exercise regularly may have less body fat available to burn off the trace amounts of marijuana in the body. The time it takes for this person to be free of THC may differ and render them likely to return a positive test for THC, and inadvertently lose out on the chance for a valuable internship that she or he has worked very hard to achieve. While others who imbibe in marijuana use more frequently may need additional time then a less frequent user.

Outside of those in the midst of the internship process are those who will be presenting a poster, a symposium, or seeking to network with potential employers or graduate school personnel. For those who are hoping to make a positive public impression in some fashion it is wise to keep in mind the effect of marijuana or THC on your cognitive ability. While most are familiar with the negative effects of alcohol and the headaches which can result from a hangover, less are familiar with the type of carryover effects of marijuana.

For example, Leirer, Yesavage, & Morrow (1991), using a sample of airline pilots found 77% of the sample showed some degree of impairment 24 hours after smoking marijuana, yet only one reported any awareness of the effects of its . This finding is important to note in the event you decide to smoke or otherwise partake in the use of marijuana while at the APA Convention. You may find it helpful to plan your activities accordingly to ensure you are at your best when presenting a poster or a symposium, or talking with a potential internship director, and future employer.

All of this being said, we hope you have an enjoyable time while in Denver and make the most of your Convention experiences! As graduate students and professionals, we spend a great deal of our time caring for the well-being of others as we conduct research, provide therapy and counseling, teach, and participate in many other activities. We at the Convention Committee hope you take the opportunity to not only take in and enjoy the Convention experience, but also to take time to rest and recharge!




References (2016, January 1). Museum of Contemporary Art. Retrieved from


Blond, B. (2016, January 1). Denver free things to do. Retrieved from


Leirer, V. O., Yesavage, J. A., & Morrow, D. G. (1991). Marijuana carry-over effects on aircraft pilot performance. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 62(3), 221-227.


Loomis, C. (2016, January 1). Fruition Restaurant. Retrieved from


National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015, May 1). Want to Know More? Some FAQs about

Marijuana. Retrieved from (2016, January 1). The Park. Retrieved from

Developing Professional Identities in Legislative Advocacy and Leadership

Posted in Advocacy, Graduate School


Dr. Anatasia S. Kim is the 2015 recipient of the APAGS Guardian of Psychology Award.

Dr. Anatasia S. Kim, PhD is the 2015 recipient of the APAGS Guardian of Psychology Award.

By Anatasia S. Kim, PhD

What is the role of legislative advocacy and policy in my capacity as a clinical psychologist? The answer is found in my years of community-based work with children, adolescents, and families. As a graduate student at UCLA some 15 years ago, I never imagined one day lobbying in the Capitol on behalf of the profession and my clients. But this is exactly what brings tremendous excitement, passion, and hope for me today.

I started my clinical career working with at-risk youth in East Los Angeles using brief intervention models to treat behavioral, emotional, and academic problems. Back then I naively believed that therapy alone would be enough. I continued my work with this population and expanded to working with incarcerated youth and immigrant communities. While involved in research efforts in these areas, it became undeniably apparent that a significant, if not majority, of the psychological problems that challenged my clients were in fact a result not of some intrapsychic forces, but rather, a system  failure.

As a graduate student at UCLA some 15 years ago, I never imagined one day lobbying in the Capitol on behalf of the profession and my clients. But this is exactly what brings tremendous excitement, passion, and hope for me today.

The disparities in mental health, access to and quality of care, and other resources ultimately reflect a broken system of socially unjust policies that impair the wellbeing of the communities we serve. Just as one cannot separate the mind from the body, we cannot separate people from their environment, which includes the social system in which they are inextricably embedded. The solution then rests in large part to our capacity and willingness to be personally and professionally accountable to the world around us.  Ultimately, this means that we have to take responsibility for and develop solutions to social problems that plague our communities, particularly those that have and continue to be the most marginalized and oppressed.

As socially conscious and morally responsible professionals, we cannot simply spew out diagnoses and “fix” broken psyches. We can and must do much more. Indeed, we must fully acknowledge that social injustice, cultural apathy, and moral irresponsibility lead to and cause mental illness. We must acknowledge that mental illness is birthed from community violence, broken educational system, intergenerational poverty, and proliferating prisons. Mental illness is also perpetuated in our silence, when we don’t speak up or use our privilege to challenge the status quo.

My responsibilities as a legislative advocate are not only to the profession of psychology, but more importantly, to the clients I serve. The few letters that follow my name give me access and authority to places that my clients don’t have, including a seat at the table where discussions and ultimately decisions about policies can be influenced. In fact then, legislative advocacy is our ethical responsibility and a moral imperative not only as psychologists, but also as citizens who vote and can demand just polices that promote instead of inhibit mental health.

Psychologists have something critical to offer in the social and public policy discourse. Beyond the therapy and classrooms, our commitment to social justice must be earnest and unwavering. As such, we must get involved in our local, state, and national professional organizations and their growing efforts in governmental affairs including the California Psychological Association’s Leadership and Advocacy Conference.

What then is the role of legislative advocacy and leadership for psychologists? For me, it is ultimately about the courage to use my power and privilege to give voice to those without.


Editor’s note: Anatasia S. Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor at The Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA, is the 2015 winner of the “Guardian of Psychology” award from the APAGS Advocacy Coordinating Team.  She was nominated by Eric Samuels, a doctoral student from Wright currently interning at Indiana University, and the 2016 APAGS liaison to APA’s Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology.  An earlier version of this article appeared in the newsletter of the Alameda County Psychological Association.

Author bio: Dr. Kim received her B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA. She is a National Ronald McNair Scholar, recipient of American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship as well as the Okura Mental Health Fellowship. In addition to teaching, she has a private practice in Berkeley specializing in treating adolescents/young adults with anxiety disorders, depression, and neurocognitive deficits using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In recent years, she served as President of the Alameda County Psychological Association (ACPA), member of California Psychological Association’s (CPA) Governmental Affairs Steering Committee, Chair of CPA’s Immigration Task Force, and CPA’s state Diversity Delegate. In addition, she has served on various local boards including Ethnic Health Institute and Berkeley Alliance aimed at addressing educational and health disparities in Alameda County. Finally, recent her research and clinical projects include: program evaluation for school-based interventions; recruitment and retention of ethnic minority students in graduate training; pipeline for advanced degrees in psychology for historically underrepresented students; and cross-disciplinary approaches to working with systems-involved youth and families.


National Die-In Recap

Posted in Advocacy, Graduate School

Fellow Advocates for Social Justice,

First, I want to apologize for the interval between the National Die-In and this post. I had two weeks of finals immediately after our Die-In and was focused on that. It is the challenge of being both a student and an advocate for social justice, something I know may of you are familiar with. I also needed some time and distance to reflect on what was a very powerful experience.


That said, the National Die-In was a great success! Our event in Chicago had approximately 50 participants, mostly students and faculty from schools throughout the Chicago region, who attended despite frigid temperatures and snow. The fact that so many attended despite the weather was inspiring. We lay on the pavement in front of City Hall for 16 minutes, representing the 16 bullets shot at Laquan McDonald, while a student read 16 key points from the APA’s Resolution Against Racism and Racial Discrimination. Folks who just happened to be walking by lay down next to us on the cold pavement in support of our cause. One of these individuals, a high school senior, even helped us carry signs back to the school afterward. Others were not as supportive, with one passerby expressing his opinion that we should leave the United States and form our own country. We were also filmed by two local news crews, and I hope to be able to retrieve the footage so that we can share it on social media. Please check out pictures from the Chicago Die-In on our Facebook event page.

Die1 - Chicago

Students participating in the Die-In in front of City Hall in Chicago.

D1 - ChicagoThis has been an inspiring journey for me and I thank you all for your collective efforts in making this happen. We staged a coordinated event at 20 schools, across 12 states, with hundreds of student and faculty participants. You should all be proud of your efforts! Of course, this is just the first step in the #psychologists4blacklives movement and I hope that together we can keep the momentum going. We are planning to be at the APA Convention in August. An even bigger event next year would be awesome. There are so many possibilities. We just need to connect those willing and able to do the hard work that it takes to stage events, with those with the courage to attend them.

Die-In, U of Denver

Students at University of Denver, participating in the Die-In in their school library.

Die In, U of DenverSchools throughout the country uploaded their pictures as well! Die-In participants at Virginia Commonwealth University, Boston College, University of Denver, and the University of North Texas also uploaded their pictures, and these schools were joined by Auburn University with multiple tweets about their Die-Ins. I also received pictures from the University of Oregon’s Die-In. I thought we had it rough with the weather but compared to Boston College we had it easy. The BC Die-In took place on what looked to be at least 6 inches of snow. Thank you so much for those who have already used social media to disseminate news about their events. For those of you who haven’t yet, please upload your pictures to our Facebook event page, Twitter, and any other sites that you use so that we can get maximum exposure for our #psychologists4blacklives Die-Ins. Also, please share this information with your school and local news sources.

Die In, Boston College

Students at Boston College, braving the snow to support the Die-In.

Boston College Die InParticipating Schools:

  • Illinois School of Profession Psychology at Argosy, Chicago
  • Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago
  • University of North Texas
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago Campus
  • The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Washington, DC Campus
  • Chicago Art Institute
  • University of Illinois School of Social Work
  • Adler University
  • Boston College
  • Auburn University
  • Adelphi University
  • Howard University
  • Roosevelt University
  • University of New Haven
  • The New School for Social Research
  • Georgetown University
  • University of Denver
  • University of Hartford
  • University of Oregon
  • National Louis University

In Solidarity,