Date: Wednesday April 17, 2024

Time: 2:15 – 4:00pm (MT)

Location: CSU Lory Student Center, Never No Summer Room, Parking & Transportation Information

Science in 5-minutes or less!

The Student Showcase will feature 5-minute ‘lightning talks’, bite-sized bits of science that showcase the essence of your research. Though it can be more challenging to deliver an impactful lightning talk than a 20-minute presentation, this important scientific communication skill can engage an audience in a wide variety of topics in a short amount of time. For more information please download the Student Showcase Guidebook!

Students are tasked with presenting an engaging snap-shot of their research, prepared for both academic and non-academic audiences. These “big-picture” presentations should discuss real-world applications, advice, and future research directions.



Hydrology Days evaluators include BOTH traditional academic researchers and non-academic audiences (e.g., consultants/private industry, municipalities/utilities, government, and non-profit organizations working across the Food-Energy-Water sector).

  • Focus on these four questions: What was the motivation for conducting your research? What did you do? What did you or do you expect to find? Why does it matter (real-world implications or advice)?
  • Lightning Presentations are 5-minutes or less inclusive of audience questions 
  • Contestants must have a NAME slide – place this slide BEFORE your content slide 
  • Prepare slide in 16:9 aspect ratio 
  • Slides must be uploaded with the link below no later than 5pm Sunday April 7 (you will NOT be allowed to upload your slides right before you present!) 
  • Upload here: Slide Submission 

Organizers will assemble all slides into a single deck in advance 

Lightning Tips

Make sure to download the Student Showcase Guidebook which provides helpful information about the intentions, audience and additional resources to preparing your presentation!

Check out this 18-minute workshop for more tips:

Here are a few recommendations from the Nature Career Guide published on June 23, 2021:

Start strong. In the first few sentences, the audience should know why they need to pay attention. You have a fraction of your allotted minutes to establish credibility.

Tell a story. Whether a talk is one minute long or 20, it should be framed by a basic narrative. Start with a research question and follow up with experimental methods and results: the credibility that you established at the outset will build, and the audience can actually learn something.

Pace yourself. It’s normal to speak quickly when the clock is ticking, but that isn’t the best way to convey complicated scientific concepts. Don’t try to fit in more words per minute; instead, find words and images that really matter.

Keep slides simple. Some lightning speakers try to cram many concepts into each slide, but that’s a mistake. Images should be as economical as words, holding just enough information to make important points without visual overload.

Practice. Don’t follow a script, but you should practice your talk enough to know where you’re going and how long it takes to get there.

Powerpoint Templates

Though not required, students may consider using the templates below to organize their presentations.  While there is no limit to the number of slides you may present during your 5-minutes, please keep your slides simple and follow the tips provided in the Student Showcase Guidebook!


Abstract Template

All presentations are to be accompanied by an abstract for publication in the conference proceedings. The format should follow the template and instructions here:


Cash prizes will be awarded to the top-scoring student presentations.

Depending on the number of participants, cash prizes may be awarded in multiple categories (i.e., there may be more than one round of awards):

  • First Place = $500
  • Second Place = $250
  • Third Place = $100


Those interested in entering the competition must adhere to posted deadlinesregister and submit an abstract (select “Student Showcase (lightning talk)”) to finalize their participation. 

  • Students are defined as those enrolled at an accredited university in an Undergraduate, Masters, or PhD program
  • Students must submit a properly formatted abstract by March 10, 2024
  • Students are required to present their work in the assigned session
  • Register for the conference as a student by March 31, 2024
  • Submit your slides by April 7th, 2024. You will not be allowed to submit your slides on the day of the event.
  • Give a 5 minute in-person lightning talk at Hydrology Days
  • Evaluate your peer’s presentations.

Selected competitors will be contacted to confirm participation in the Student Showcase in March.