ATM/MPO/OCE Seminars

Guidelines for Student Presentations and Abstracts

Here are some basic guidelines for 15-minute presentations and abstracts. Preferably, you should discuss progress (key results) made over the course of the year toward completion of your thesis or dissertation research. It is an excellent opportunity to receive feedback from your committee, and other faculty, staff and students. To this end, the student seminar should consist of the following:

MOTIVATION: concisely state the relevant meteorological or oceanographic problem

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: briefly develop the topic and give the most relevant references,

DATA ANALYSIS / MODEL: describe the technical approach,

RESULTS: discuss recent results, or relate historical analyses to the topic,

SUMMARY / CONCLUSIONS: provide conclusions or a summary of results derived from the research,

FUTURE WORK: describe your next steps


Remember, your main objectives are to engage the audience and to make sure that all the main points are presented with maximum clarity, not to impress the audience with how much you learned and done.


With the above objectives in mind, also pay attention to the following:

  • It is impossible to convey all of your work in just 15 minutes. Hence, it is best to motivate just a couple of key points and results.
  • While the research is often highly complex and technical and this needs to be conveyed, do not ‘blind the audience with science”.
  • Aim for one slide per one or two minutes (i.e. maximum of 12 slides in total).
  • Large, clear text and plain backgrounds are recommended.
  • Remember to label your figures clearly, and DO NOT cram too many figures onto one slide.
  • The 15-minute time limit will be strictly adhered to, so please plan your presentations accordingly
  • Speak loudly and clearly; it is a good idea to repeat questions from the audience


The seminar should be well-organized, so a few practice sessions are a good idea. The two-page abstract and presentation should be discussed with your advisor prior to the presentation.


The aim of the abstract is to familiarize you with writing clear, concise technical English in a finite amount of space. This is an important step toward eventual publication of your work in scientific journals. The abstract will also be read by faculty members and your fellow students. So please take writing of your abstract very seriously!

The order of the abstract is fairly similar to that of the presentation. You should summarize your main points and include your most important figures. The abstract should include Summary/Discussion and Future Work sections. As your study progresses, the focus will be naturally shifting from the latter to the former. A list of references should be given at the end.

The format is chosen to match the format of an extended abstract at an AMS conference (two columns, 12pt single-spaced text). Conference attendees (including potential collaborators and employers!) pay particular attention to abstracts, since it is often the only written work by the student that is available for a wider audience at the time of presentation.

MORE INFORMATION on how to prepare and give a good talk and how to write an effective summary can be found on the following web page

Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry You can find details about opportunities for PhD research for the upcoming academic year here.