The Ruhlman Conference is made possible by the Barbara Peterson Ruhlman Fund for Interdisciplinary Study. The conference is intended to foster collaboration among students and faculty across the disciplines and to enhance the intellectual life of the College. The event will provide an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, friends, family, and alumnae to come together in celebration of student achievement.

The Ruhlman Conference celebrates intellectual life by sponsoring a communal, public event where students will have an opportunity to present their work to a wide audience. By providing an opportunity for public presentation of what is often a private, isolated activity; the conference will demonstrate that research can be part of the ongoing conversation in a community of scholars.


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.

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Jacqueline Fowler ’49 Public Speaking Prize: Alexandra Gago ’21 (Women’s and Gender Studies) and Mileva Van Tuyl ’21 (Computer Science).

view the program


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

Digital Poster Session: Abstract Submission deadline is Thursday, April 29th (midnight) and Poster PDF is due May 12th (midnight). (Poster Submission Form below may be accessed to edit and add poster pdf.)

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
  • In April, Advisors should reach out to their Advisees (individual and/or preformed panelist) to review their abstracts and presentations. Please contact me directly if the abstract needs to be revised/edited (
  • Advisors need to schedule a Zoom meeting time convenient for all participants during the week of May 10-14 (or earlier) and share the Zoom link with Advisees who may share the link with family and friends. (detailed instructions and tutorial info provided below)
  • Advisors will act as a Zoom Host (record Zoom meetings and turn on Closed Captioning) and panel moderator (welcome guests and ask the students to introduce themselves).
  • Advisor will hold a Q & A at the end of the presentation. The Advisor should be prepared to ask a few questions and if there are guests on the Zoom allow them to ask questions to the presenters.
  • Timing: Each panelist should have equal time, if you have a preformed panel, please divide 40 minutes by the number of presenters (Q&A to follow 40 minute discussion time). If you have one student presenting they may present for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Due Friday, May 14th, please submit your Zoom recording link to Ruhlman Zoom Link Submission Form
  • Please note you may record your Zoom Presentation meeting anytime between now and May 14th as long as the link is submitted no later than May 14th.

Zoom Instructions

  • Make sure you have the latest version of Zoom (5.6.1) Do this by signing into Zoom using SSO. On the platform page click on your initials in the top right corner, select *check for updates* and run updates if needed.
  • To schedule your Zoom meeting, please follow these detailed instructions from our IT Department: Ruhlman Zoom Instructions

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 Submissions

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.

To submit your Poster please fill out the Poster Submission Form above. Include a title (12 words or less), abstract (150 words or less), and one PDF of your poster. Deadline is April 29th, all submission will be posted on the Ruhlman website on May 20th.


Ruhlman Presentation Formats

The 2021 Ruhlman Conference presentation formats have been revised.

Individual Talks, Short Performances, Film Screenings, and Literary Readings will NOT be grouped into panels. Advisor are to schedule a Zoom meeting that will be recorded and submitted to the Ruhlman Committee by May 14th. Each presentation should be approximately 10 minutes plus a short Q&A dialogue. Please feel free to invite friends and family to join the Zoom and to ask questions. (Please refer to the email sent to you on April 9th by the Ruhlman Committee for details).

Preformed Panel Discussions will remain as a panel and moderated by the panel coordinating Advisor. Presentation time should be approximately 40 minutes plus a Q&A dialogue. Each student should have equal presentation time therefore the 40 minutes should be divided by the number of presenters. Advisor are to schedule a Zoom meeting that will be recorded and submitted to the Ruhlman Committee by May 14th. Please feel free to invite friends and family to join the Zoom and to ask questions. (Please refer to the email sent to you on April 9th by the Ruhlman Committee for details).

On May 20th, all recorded presentation links will be posted on the Ruhlman Conference website.


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