Do you struggle to discuss your research with friends and family? If so, you are not alone. Many scientists find it hard to explain what they do to people outside their field.
But on Wednesday, 18 PhD students from Imperial College London will attempt to break the mould, by competing in the Three Minute Thesis (@3minutethesis) competition. As the name suggests, competitors will have just three minutes to explain their research to an audience of non-specialists.
Second year student, Charlotte Mykura, will represent the Clinical Sciences Centre. “I am looking forward to sharing my PhD. I want everyone else to love it as much as I do. It will be tricky to put together a talk that is interesting and accessible,” says Mykura. “I struggle to take a step back and communicate on a different level.”
Mykura will discuss her research on the protein molecules that together control cells as they grow and replicate. She knows it will be a challenge to meet the judges’ criteria. The rules are that she must “avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information.”
To help her audience picture the proteins, she plans to use physical, dynamic gestures. She told us she once twisted her arms together to demonstrate the structure of the DNA double helix.
A panel of five judges will assess the competitors on their ability to communicate complex ideas simply and concisely. Marks will be awarded out of ten, with £275 prize money. The winner will also enter the final round of the national competition against students from across the country.
Despite her nerves, Mykura told us she’s relishing the challenge: “I love talking about science and I want other people to understand it. So much of our research is government funded, the public has a right to know.”
The competition will take place on Wednesday April 29 at 13.00 in the Sir Alexander Fleming Building on South Kensington Campus. It is not too late to register for tickets.
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