PhD students from Aurora universities completed course in scientific outreach

20 June 2023

Almost 30 PhD students from Aurora universities attended a course on scientific outreach at the University of Iceland. They learned about the potential benefits of sharing research with the public in different ways and also took part in a competition to design the best research presentation.

The four-day course was entitled “PhD Impact, the Aurora Master Class on Public Outreach for Doctoral Candidates”. It was attended by students from a diverse range of subjects and 8 different Aurora universities. The course was designed to train these future scientists to effectively communicate their research and findings to the public. Academics are increasingly expected not just to conduct research and teach students, but also to share their research findings with the public in an accessible way and use their expertise to contribute to public debate.

This course was made up of a series of workshops in which the PhD students received guidance and advice from public outreach experts at the Aurora universities. Students learned about various outreach strategies, such as podcasts, videos and films, social media, exhibitions and family events, marketing, and engaging narratives.

The course concluded with a competition called the Three Minute Thesis (3MT). Each student had 3 minutes and 1 slide to present their thesis using accessible language. Experts from the University of Minnesota (UMN), where this kind of competition is well established, helped the students prepare their presentations, an example of the increased collaboration between Aurora and UMN described in the declaration of intent signed last year.

The contestants approached the task with imagination, humour and passion for their subjects, and it proved very difficult for the evaluation committee to select a winner. In the end, three winners were selected:

  • Dona Geagea, PhD student in water governance at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Anna Selbmann, PhD student in marine biology at the University of Iceland
  • Lucie Kotková, PhD student in forensic genetics and epigenetics at Palacký University Olomouc in the Czech Republic

The competition was live streamed and is available to watch again here

Photo by Kristinn Ingvarsson.