Photo of Earth's Stratosphere with sun rising

Participate in the Virtual Poster Showcase

How to participate

Virtual Poster Showcase (VPS) is primarily aimed at graduate and undergraduate students as a way to improve their research presentation skills. These skills are highly important in both academia and professional workplaces, however attending scientific conferences to professionally present research is not accessible to everyone. VPS provides the experience of presenting scientific research without barriers like the investment of time and money to travel to an international conference.

There are four phases to participate: abstract submission, the poster presentation, judging, and recognition. Explore more about how to participate below and learn about incorporating VPS into a curriculum.

Watch our tutorial

Check out our brief tutorial to help you prepare for the Virtual Poster Showcase.

Thank you for your interest in the Virtual Poster Showcase

<p><strong>AGU is upgrading the Virtual Poster Showcase platform.</strong> If you are a faculty member looking to engage your class in the showcase to practice communication skills or a student looking to share your research with other participants, please visit the new and improved platform in 2022. We regret the inconvenience this may cause.</p>

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How to write an abstract

To participate in VPS, students must first submit their abstract. The first author (and presenter) on the abstract must be an undergraduate student for the undergraduate showcase and a graduate student for the graduate showcase. Select high school students are also able to participate.

Abstracts must be in English and be submitted by the abstract submission deadline. The title is limited to 300 characters and the body text is limited to 2000 characters (spaces and punctuation included). Abstracts should be concise and be able to appropriately describe your research within the character limit. There is a $35 USD submission fee for all abstracts. There is no fee for individuals residing in qualifying low-income and lower-middle income countries, as defined by the World Bank. You do not need to be an AGU member to participate.



Preparing your abstract

For guidance on preparing your abstract submission, read this Eos article titled A Guide to Writing an AGU AbstractThe general flow and structure of your abstract should be as follows:

  • 1
    Context/Purpose: One to two sentences explaining why you studied this particular topic and what is significant about it. Has past research been done? How does your research add to existing knowledge?
  • 2
    Methods: One to two sentences outlining the methods you used to conduct your research. How did you collect your data? How did you process your data?
  • 3
    Results: Three to four sentences about what you found through your research.
  • 4
    Interpretation: Up to four sentences discussing those findings. What do the results mean?
  • 5
    Conclusion: One sentence summarizing what you have learned from your research and why it is significant.
VPS winner Carlos Martinez holds his winner's plaque

How to create and upload a poster presentation

We’ve compiled guidance to help you create and upload your virtual poster and accompanying presentation video.

The poster must be one page and in English.

You can create your poster using PowerPoint, Adobe Illustrator, Canvas, or any other appropriate program. Poster dimensions are as follows: The maximum width is 48 inches (130 cm); the maximum height is 36 inches (100 cm). The file size may not exceed 25MB, and you must save your file as a PDF. The virtual poster software does not recognize any other file formats.

Poster design can significantly enhance or severely diminish the effectiveness of your presentation. The guidelines are general considerations.

  • The focus of attention must be on the subject content. If the design overshadows the subject matter, the message is likely to be lost.
  • Larger visuals attract more attention. Visuals not relevant to the content will distract the viewer.
  • Too many visuals and text in a small space decreases readers’ attention, because each object is in competition with the others. Generally, a maximum length of 50-75 words per figure label results in a higher probability of people reading it.
  • Letters should be large so that they can easily be read from 2-3 feet away. Letters should be easily read (avoid extravagant fonts).

Use a consistent layout with heading and subheading font and size standardized. Other suggestions:

  • Use bulleted lists to facilitate reading.
  • Relate the content of the text to the picture it describes.
  • Reduce competing stimuli—Avoid placing a large number of labels and visuals next to one another.
  • Provide good contrast between the text and background (avoid white on white, blue on navy, etc.).

A short video must accompany the poster.

The video should capture you explaining your poster in 5 minutes or fewer. The video is designed for the judge to watch you present as if you were at an in-person poster session. When filming, adjust the camera view so that both you and the poster are captured in the shot at all times. Please be sure that the video is not zooming just on your face, zooming on portions of the poster, or alternating between you and the poster. The video can be recorded using a camera or smartphone and uploaded to YouTube.
You can record your presentation in front of a physical, printed poster or in front of a digital image of your poster created using an LCD projector or large screen monitor. You are NOT required to print your poster at any stage of VPS.

Title your video, “AGU Virtual Poster Showcase [Season Year] – Your Name.” In the description section of the YouTube video, include the title of your research, the abstract, and the following paragraph: “The Virtual Poster Showcase (VPS) is an online poster presentation opportunity hosted by AGU that allows students at the undergraduate and graduate levels to share their research without having to travel to a conference. Students are guided through the essential steps of an in-person scientific conference but in an online and asynchronous environment: abstract submission, poster preparation and presentation, and the peer-review process, during which they learn to evaluate each other’s research.  To learn more about how you can participate in Virtual Poster Showcase as a student, faculty member or judge, visit

for students with disabilities

Students with hearing disabilities who benefit from use of an interpreter at their educational institution should communicate their presentation through American (ASL) or International (ISL) Sign Language on camera with the assistance of an interpreter who will voice the presentation off camera (Support for interpretation services may be available at the campus Office of Disability Service). Please note, only the student presenter and the poster should be visible in the supporting video presentation.

If you require other accommodations for your participation, please contact us.


VPS winner Trista McKenzie stands in front of an image of Hawaii's Big Island holding her winner's plaque.

How poster judging works

Poster judging occurs in two phases, after which the site will close and winners will be announced soon after.

Peer Judging: Each lead author participating in VPS is required to judge three posters and provide a score based on their visual appeal and scientific content. Students are expected to ask questions about the posters they are judging. Students will not be assigned to judge other students from the same institution or research project.  During the peer judging period, students must be available to log in to the VPS site.

Expert Judging: The second judging phase involves experts, who are scientists and faculty, judging posters on scientific merit and on visual appeal. Judges can submit comments and questions about posters. Their comments, questions, and your responses will be posted online but only visible to you and other judges and reviewers assigned to your poster. You must be available to log in to the VPS site during the expert judging period.

Rubric for judging posters[PDF] This rubric will be used by both peer judges and expert judges. Judges will be encouraged to provide constructive comments for each presentation, as well as to ask questions to each presenter.

Tips on evaluating scientific posters – This Eos article offers tips for evaluating posters and providing students with constructive feedback.

VPS winner Timothy Chui standing in front of his poster presentation with his winner's plaque

How students are recognized

Each student will receive a certificate of participation after completing all steps of the Virtual Poster Showcase, including judging peers’ posters and responding to feedback from expert judges.

The first, second, and third place winners of the graduate and undergraduate showcases will receive AGU membership for the calendar year following their participation in VPS.

The first-place winners of the graduate and undergraduate showcases will receive funding towards lodging and airfare (some restrictions apply) and free registration for the AGU Fall Meeting of the calendar year following their participation in VPS.

A few weeks after the conclusion of your showcase you will receive information about how to cite your abstract. Your abstract will become available in the VPS database shortly thereafter.

VPS Winner Stephanie Schneider holds her winner's plaque

View past winners

Check out the posters and presentation videos for past showcase winners.
View winners
VPS winner Jacob Smith stands in front of his poster presentation holding his winner's plaque.

Information for faculty and researchers

VPS offers numerous benefits to the program’s target graduate and undergraduate students. Download a PDF of Penn State Brandywine’s Dr. Laura Guertin’s NAGT article highlighting the benefits she saw in participating in VPS from a faculty perspective.

VPS can be incorporated into most Earth and space science courses that involve research proposals, literature reviews, research projects, or research presentations. Examples of courses that could utilize VPS in the syllabus are science communication courses, fundamentals of research courses, capstone courses, and core classes that require a research or project component. VPS works best if the course already has a visual poster/presentation assignment or final presentation (in lieu of an exam) so students are not overloaded with additional preparation in an already demanding course.

Class Of University Students Using Laptops In Lecture

Preparing to use VPS in your curriculum

In preparing to use AGU’s Virtual Poster Showcase (VPS) in your curriculum, it is advised to first be involved in VPS as a judge the semester prior to implementing it into your curriculum. Being a judge for the showcase illustrates both the timeline of the showcase and the work the participating students produce. Once you gain an idea of the caliber of work presented and the timeline of the showcase, it will be easier to translate guidelines and expectations of the showcase into your syllabus and grading rubrics. We encourage you to view our webinar addressing ways to incorporate VPS into a course.

Contact Pranoti Asher, Higher Education Manager, to review your syllabus as well as give an introduction of the showcase to students via Skype at the beginning of the semester. Our team is happy to work with and help guide you and your students, whether that be through Skype sessions with the class or emailing throughout the process.

Student listening in class with pen and paper on desk

For VPS to be implemented into your syllabus, it is important to set due dates for each stage of the showcase on or before the dates listed for upcoming showcases. There are five stages to the showcase: abstract submission, poster and video upload, peer judging, expert judging, and recognition. The only stages that translate to assignments that would be included in a syllabus are the abstract submission, poster and video upload, and peer judging. The dates for upcoming virtual poster showcases were decided based on review of a variety of university schedules, therefore the date ranges for each stage should provide flexibility for implementation into different class schedules. The final dates for peer judging are well before final exams begin for most universities and student participation in VPS should be finished prior to preparation for final exams.

Professor teaching class of students at Fall Meeting