This year the Ruhlman Conference will look and feel very different and we anticipate it will be a meaningful experience for all involved. Classes will not be canceled as they are most years, so we are going to create an asynchronous program. Our offering of this flexible plan will allow all faculty and students to participate. The College is also interested in archiving this year’s presentations as a historical record of this event; the recordings of each presentation will provide a rich library archive of student work during this unusual year. All presentations will be Zoom meetings recorded in advance (May 10th to 14th ) and submitted to the Ruhlman Committee to be posted on the Ruhlman website and shared with the Wellesley College community on May 20th.


Barbara Peterson Ruhlman ’54
more about Barbara Peterson Ruhlman ’54


Application deadline is Wednesday, March 17, 2021 (submission time extended to midnight)

Apply for Ruhlman

Fowler Public Speaking Videos deadline is extended to Friday, March 26, 2021

(at 12:00 noon)

Video Submission Form

Poster Session Submission deadline is Thursday, April 29 2021 (at 5:00 PM)

Poster Submission Form


All students may apply to present at the Ruhlman Conference. Attentive to the diversity of student interest and accomplishment, the Ruhlman Conference will include a variety of formats for the presentation of student work: papers, panels, posters, exhibitions, musical and theatrical performances, and readings of original work.

Ruhlman Advisors

All student applicants to Ruhlman must have a Wellesley Ruhlman advisor to review your abstract and/or poster to help you prepare for your presentation. Who should you choose to serve in this role? The best choice is often someone familiar with your research project, your interests and your goals. Ask a faculty or staff member who is aware of your experience and can offer you time and support.


All applicants (individuals, panels, and posters) must submit an abstract of up to 150 words . Carefully review your abstract for typographical errors, punctuation, and grammar.

The abstract should answers the following questions:

  • What was the focus of your research or project?
  • What did this experience teach?
  • How does this experience relate to your past or future academic, social and/or professional goals?
  • What do you hope those who attend your presentation will learn?

All Ruhlman participants are eligible to enter the The Jacqueline Fowler 49 Public Speaking Prize. The competition will take place in two rounds. In the first round, participants will submit a 3-minute video presentation of an abstract of their Ruhlman project, intended for an interested non-expert audience. The judging of the final round will be based on the finalists' actual Ruhlman presentations, which will be designated in the program and scheduled so that the judges can attend all of them. The winner will be announced and the prize will be awarded at the reception at the end of the day.

Poster Session

2021 Poster Forms are due April 29th. Research posters at professional conferences often present "work in progress". The researchers present the framing of the project and workflow to date in order to get feedback from their peers that can help guide next steps in the project. This year Ruhlman is encouraging the submission of both works-in-progress posters as well as posters that present a more completed project. Guidelines for both submissions will be the same. The Ruhlman Committee hopes this explicit change will encourage students engaged in ongoing course based research and independent study to consider submitting a poster this year.

It is strongly suggested that all poster submission be in PowerPoint. Videos shown in a browser or external software may have a stutter or the possibility of freezing up. If you have the MP4 or MOV video files you can use Zoom's advanced video share feature. But, the Ruhlman Committee would prefer you limit your submissions to PowerPoint presentations.


Ruhlman Presentation Formats

Types of Presentations (Important Note: Due to scheduling constraints, students may take part in a maximum of one primary/individual presentation, one class/group presentation, and one poster presentation.)

  • Talk (5 minute presentation on Zoom) An individual student gives an oral presentation about some original research they have conducted. Please note the committee will schedule all 5-minute "Talks" with related types of presentations to create a panel with a connected theme. If you are part of a 40 minute pre-formed panel discussion, see Pre-formed Panel Discussion below.
  • Short Performance (10 minute Zoom presentation) An individual or group of students presents a short musical or theatrical piece.
  • Film Screening (10 minute Zoom presentation) An individual or group of students presents an original film or video.
  • Literary Reading (10 minute Zoom presentation) An individual student reads an original text, typically a series of poems or part of a short story.
  • Pre-formed Panel Discussion (40-minute group Zoom presentation) A minimum of 4 students and maximum of 9 together to discuss the same topic. Participants are either members of a class or have joined together to prepare material that will last for an entire 40 minutes. Please make sure only one member in the group fills out the application to prevent duplication.
  • Exhibition (40 minute Zoom presentation) an individual student presents original artwork in the form of drawings, paintings, sculpture, photos, etc. Presenters remain with their exhibits during the scheduled 40-minute session in order to help visitors understand the visually presented material.
  • Long Performance (40 minute Zoom presentation) A group of students presents a musical or theatrical piece.


Focus and Substance

The best presentations have a clear focus and an obvious sense of purpose, as well as substantive content.

  • Provide framing. Be sure to begin by briefly orienting your listener to the project and your role in it.

  • Be selective. Focus on one or two points about the work you did and the field you participated in, and illustrate these points with concrete examples and detail. If you are working with a panel of presenters, plan ways to distribute your focus amongst the panel members, and to make connections between the different approaches each of you takes. Consider the following questions to find your focus:

    • What is the most significant aspect of this project that you want to convey?

    • What was the most surprising and unexpected aspect of the work you did?

    • How did your perceptions of the field, work, topic, or people shift as a result of your experience?

    • What did you learn about your field?

    • What did you learn about yourself?

Plan to use your presentation to further your own learning. What do you want to record and remember about this experience? What do you want to be sure you don’t forget? What about your own learning will be meaningful to others?

  • Time your practice session. Each session is 40 minutes in length with 4-9 presenters. If you are part of panel, please time your presentation so that all panelists have equal opportunity to speak. Individual presentations are approximately 5-10 minutes. The number of panelist determines the length of the presentation.

  • Plan ample time to work with your advisor and your fellow panel presenters.

  • All presentations will be on Zoom, prior to your presentation review your technology for any updates.


Ruhlman advisors support students as they prepare their presentations and posters. This year (2021) we will also be inviting Advisors to be Zoom Meeting Moderators during their advisee's presentation. Every student applicant to the Ruhlman Conference is asked to identify a faculty or staff member to perform this role. Advisors review and approve abstracts, help students to plan their presentations, and may ask the student to present a “dress rehearsal” of their Ruhlman presentation, allowing for feedback and guidance on substance, structure and presentation style. The advisor can provide advice on the content of the presentation and offer suggestions for making the presentation engaging and effective. Students can benefit a great deal from advisor advice on how much material to present; what to focus on; how to make use of visuals and PowerPoint slides; and how to deliver their presentation. Ruhlman advisors are also important audience members on the day of the Ruhlman Conference.

Ruhlman Committee

Dan Brabander
Frost Professor in Environmental Science and Professor of Geosciences
Alexander Brey
Assistant Professor of Art
Katie Christoph ’21
Comparative Literature, German Studies
Nicholas Doe
Senior Instructor in Chemistry Laboratory
Scott Gunther
Professor of French
Kelly Hsu ’21
Margaret Keane
Professor of Psychology
Jessica Baga May
Senior Development Officer
Shreya Parjan ’21
Computer Science, Mathematics
Christina Pong
Director of Digital Marketing and Communications
Valerie Ramseyer
Associate Professor of History
Beth Robichaud
Assistant Director of Academic Conferences
Andrew Shennan
Provost and Lia Gelin Poorvu '56 Dean of the College
Yuichiro Suzuki
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences


Questions? Contact