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15 Minutes at the Podium: Presenting Research at the Sexual Violence Research Initiative Forum 2011

October 31, 2011

Finishing up our time in Kinshasa last month also meant, for me, finishing up and closing out my CDC Global Health Monitoring and Evaluation Fellowship, the gig that brought me and Jamie to Kinshasa in the first place.

Despite the often rocky relationship I had with my office in Kinshasa (if you want to hear more about that, clear about 3 hours of your time, grab a 6-pack and prepare for a seething rant…), there is at least one big project that I accomplished and am truly happy and excited about.

As part of the fellowship, we were encouraged to conduct research and submit it to get published or to present at a related conference.  Being the number-crunching, statistics-loving nerd that I am, this was like a dream come true.  Seriously- I’m not being sarcastic.  I love trying to make sense out of a seemingly meaningless spreadsheet of numbers- there’s something magical about it to me.

Since most of the work I had been doing during the fellowship involved looking at the intersection between HIV risk and different types of violence against women in Congo, naturally I decided to make this the topic of my research as well.

So, I got my hands on the only national data set in existence with numbers for violence and gave it a spin on my statistics software.  I wrote up an abstract describing what I found and submitted it for presentation at two different international conferences.

A few months later, I heard back from the abstract review committees for each conference.  My abstract had been accepted… by both of them!

The first one took place a few weeks ago, which is what brought me and Jamie to Cape Town, South Africa in the first place.  I gave a 15 minute oral presentation at the Sexual Violence Research Initiative 2011 Forum.  I had never before given a real presentation at a real conference, attended by real experts in their field, so I was definitely nervous.

However, I spent an embarrassingly long time preparing for it (including having a special blouse tailored back in Kinshasa), and so by the time it was my turn to the podium, I felt pretty good.  I also got a lot of good feedback from others after my presentation, I may even get to go present it again for a group in Washington DC in December.

Here are my presentation slides.

(If you click on the “View on Slideshare” button on the bottom of the frame, you can view the slides in full screen and/or read the more detailed speaking notes for each slide.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Presentation given at the Sexual Violence Research Initiative 2011 Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, October 10-13.

Attending this conference, for me, was like attending the premiere of a Hollywood movie.  I was star-struck to meet many of the researchers whose work I had read, studied, modeled and admired.  I was also really happy to meet other “early career” researchers (that’s the technical term) like myself and hear more about what they were doing and where.  To get an idea of the other research that was presented at the conference, here is the full program (I’m on page 17, by the way).

The second conference that I was also accepted for is the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa in early December in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  There, I will have a poster presentation displaying my research, which is a bit less stressful/thrilling than speaking for 15 minutes in front of an audience.

Even though the fellowship is officially over, I do still hope to write all this up in an article and submit it for publication to a scientific journal.  That’ll be my project while I’m looking for the next job…


On a side note, Happy Halloween!!  I’m really sad to be missing the festivities for my favorite holiday.  Although, to be fair, the backpackers hostel that I’m currently staying at did have a Halloween party this past weekend, complete with Jack-o-lanterns and face paint, which was very culturally-aware of them (Halloween is generally not really celebrated in South Africa).

But since I didn’t get a chance to spend every waking moment of the past 3 weeks sculpting, molding, sewing, gluing, duct taping, painting, cutting, sawing, glittering or otherwise creating some awesome costumes, I thought I could at least post some of the Halloween highlights over the past few years.

Batman theme: Two-face and Poison Ivy

Deities and Mythical Creatures theme: Minotaur and Kali (Hindu goddess of destruction)

Street Fighter theme: Chun-Li and Blanca

If we had been home to celebrate Halloween this year, my themed costume idea would have been…

Lawn Ornaments theme: Plastic flamingo and garden gnome, with friends

…lawn ornaments!

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