On Wednesday 27th June, a group of courageous doctoral researchers will take to the stage to compete in our Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. They’ll be condensing their 80,000-word thesis into engaging, three-minute presentations, performed in front of a live audience and judging panel.
3MT is a national competition, and the rules are strict. Armed with only a single, static powerpoint slide, participants have a maximum of three minutes to communicate their thesis to a live audience. Props are strictly forbidden, as are costumes of any sort. There’s no leeway on the time limit, either. If a presentation runs over by a single second, the speaker is disqualified. The word ‘speaker’ is important here – presentations must be spoken. Singing and humming are prohibited, as are rap and poetry.
The competition will be judged by a specially selected panel drawn from Sussex, who will be assessing each presenter based on the quality of their content, and the skill with which they communicate it. They’ll be asking questions such as:
Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate their points?
Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?
Those brave enough to take part could be richly rewarded: the winning presenter will receive £500 towards their research and a spot in the UK’s 3MT semi-final, where they’ll compete against finalists from other participating universities. There’s also a prize for second place (£300 towards research) and a People’s Choice Prize (£200 towards research). We’ll be profiling all of our contestants on our Twitter page soon.
3MT takes place on Wednesday 27th June in the ACCA’s Jane Attenborough Studio, between 13:30-15:00. If you’d like to come along, you can book your place here. 3MT is part of Sussex’s upcoming Festival of Doctoral Research, a three-day programme of special events celebrating our outstanding doctoral researchers. You can see the full Festival programme here.
With just over a month to go, we’ve listed the top five reasons to come along to our very first Festival of Doctoral Research, running from Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 June. There’s something for everyone, so take a look at the list below, and visit our webpages for more details.
#1 – It’s a chance to meet other doctoral researchers
Doctoral researchers are lovely. It’s a fact. You’re kind, intelligent people, on a mission to make the world a better place. So what could be better than spending three sunny days in June in their company?
You could come along to our ‘Living Library’ and check out a ‘Living Book’ in the form of a doctoral researcher. Take them for a coffee and they’ll tell you all about their research journey. Each of our books has a unique story to tell, and you can ask them any questions you have in a casual, relaxed setting. Alternatively, visit PubhD and you’ll hear other doctoral researchers explain their research at ‘pub-level’ – free of academic jargon and accessible to a non-specialist audience. These are both great opportunities to spend time with other researchers and hear about the exciting work happening at Sussex.
#2 – It’s about community
Sussex boasts an incredible research environment, made up of a diverse group of researchers from all over the world. Each doctoral researcher adds their own unique contribution to this community, and we think that should be celebrated, and that’s why we’ve chosen events especially designed to show the rest of Sussex the fantastic things our researchers are achieving.
Why not come along to our Public Engagement Pop-Up? We’ve invited some of the doctoral and early career researchers who received funding through our Public Engagement fund to take part in an exhibition showcasing some of the tricks they developed to inspire the public. These activities are designed to get people excited, so there’s no way you’ll be bored. Or, why not book a place on our Three Minute Thesis competition and watch a group of courageous doctoral researcher to compress their 80,000 word thesis into an engaging three-minute presentation – in front of a live audience and judging panel!
#3 – We’ll be asking some serious questions:
The Festival isn’t just a time for celebration – it’s a time to reflect on the qualities we most admire about our doctoral community, and ask how we can each work, as individuals, to protect these qualities. In this spirit of inquiry, our opening talks will address one of the most pressing issues facing current and future researchers: mental health.
On Tuesday 26th June, we’ll be hearing from three speakers – Dr Fiona Denney (Director of Brunel Educational Excellence Centre), Dr Jeremy Niven (Project Lead for ‘Understanding the Mental Health of Doctoral Researchers’) and Josh Hutton (doctoral researcher – Science and Technology Studies) – who are focussed on moving the mental health agenda for doctoral researchers from reactive to pro-active, and working on initiatives to support our doctoral communities to thrive and succeed. Taking both a national and a local perspective, these speakers will tell us how we can best maintain our own wellbeing, as well as that of those around us.
#4 – It’s a visual feast:
One of the highlight’s of this year’s Festival promises to be our Research Image Competition exhibition. We asked Sussex’s doctoral researchers to send us an image perfectly capturing the scope and excitement of their research, and they didn’t disappoint! We’ll be shortlisting the very best images soon, and displaying them in a special exhibition in the ACCA’s Gardner Tower. Come along, see them for yourself, and vote for your favourite!
#5 – It’s an actual feast!
Once we’ve given you some food for thought, it’s likely your thoughts might be turning to food. Well, don’t worry – we’re holding a big, sunny summer BBQ to celebrate the end of the Festival, and to say a big thank you to everyone who came along and made it so special. All researchers who register in advance will receive a voucher for the BBQ and one drink. There’s beef and vegan burgers and this year we’ve even got chips.
We’re excited to be running a Doctoral Community Sandpit workshop on Thursday 28 June, during the University’s first Festival of Doctoral Research. The Sandpit will be a chance for doctoral researchers to gain valuable hands-on experience of planning an activity or initiative, through a competitive game. There will be prizes for the winning team, a live voting poll, and plenty of coffee to fuel your imagination.
Design your own community-building activity
In the game, teams will work collaboratively to design and plan an event, activity or initiative. Your theme and budget will be determined by the roll of a dice. Together we’ll vote on our favourite proposals using a live poll, and the winning team will receive a prize! After the event, we’ll move our celebrations to the end-of-festival BBQ.
If you have minimal experience in organising initiatives, this is a great opportunity to learn more about what skills and logistics are required, with practical involvement in the process and expert advice available during the event. If you have plenty of experience, this is your chance to work with different people to develop new ideas; and to share what has worked for you in the past, and what hasn’t worked!
Discover more about existing researcher-led initiatives at Sussex – and the support available for your own.
As an additional part of this workshop, we will be showcasing examples of successful initiatives led by Sussex doctoral researchers, to inspire and inform you.
The Doctoral School’s Helen Hampson will be on hand with expert knowledge about the support available to plan and run your own initiative through the Researcher-Led Initiative fund, which awards up to £1000 to applicants each year. We will also discuss other opportunities at Sussex, including the Public Engagement Fund.
There will be a brief welcome talk by the current Hive Scholars, reflecting on some successful initiatives run by the Hive over the years, including the famous Book Sprint, the Hive Doctoral Discussion series, and this year’s International Women’s Day week to celebrate women in research. In turn, we will share with you what has worked and not worked in our experience and that of previous Scholars.
We look forward to seeing you there!
The Doctoral Community Sandpitwill be on Thursday 28th June, from 14.00 – 15.30, in the Research Hive (The Library, First Floor). Book your place here.
The Festival of Doctoral Research will run from Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 June 2018, with an exciting programme of events, competitions, workshops and a summer BBQ to celebrate doctoral research. Get involved!
The Doctoral School recently announced its upcoming Festival of Doctoral Research, taking place from June 26th-28th. As well as celebrating our doctoral researchers, the Festival also aims to investigate the modern researcher experience. As such, one of our events will cast an eye towards an increasingly vital part of a researcher’s portfolio: public engagement.
What exactly is public engagement? Sussex’s Public Engagement Coordinator, Dr Katy Petherick, puts it like this: “Public engagement is about breaking down the barriers between academics and the general public to share knowledge and expertise. Taking part in public engagement is an opportunity to get out of the lab or away from the library, to talk to people who have lived experience of the academic research subjects, enabling discussion, debate and mutual understanding.”
But why is it so important? Public engagement helps universities to build relationships with the public based on a mutual understanding of, and trust in, the purpose and potential impact of their research. By engaging in rich, collaborative dialogue with the public, researchers can raise the profile of their projects and ensure their research is relevant to the very people their work aims to effect. Such sharing and collaborating also ensures the public have a voice in the development of future development of research.
At Sussex, we’ve been pro-active in recognising the value of public engagement. Last year, the Vic-Chancellor signed the University up to the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s Manifesto, and has since increased Sussex’s focus on communicating the role it plays in a diverse array of communities, both local and national. Another manifestation of this renewed focus took the form of Sussex’s Public Engagement fund, a pilot scheme launched last year by the Researcher Development Programme, awarding small grants (up to £750) to help researchers carry out PE activities designed to inform and inspire the public.
One year on, we’re celebrating the success of the Public Engagement fund with a special pop-up event taking place on Wednesday 27th June, between 1030-1200 in the ACCA’s Gardner Tower. We’ve invited some of the doctoral and early career researchers who received funding through the Public Engagement fund to come along and show visitors some of the tricks they have used in festivals, schools and public spaces to excite and inspire the public about their research.
Dr Petherick, who sat on the PE fund’s selection committee, shared her enthusiasm with us about the event: “All of the activities on display at the pop-up event are fantastic examples of public engagement and they all demonstrate how to adapt methods for specific audiences and subject areas. This could be through attending science festivals, developing activities for schools or running community groups workshops. I’m really excited to see the final products of the projects and cannot wait to have a go at some of the activities!”
Visitors attending the pop-up event will have the chance to find out about the work of:
Aleksandra Herman – Alexsandra will be demonstrating the app she has developed to investigate drinking habits in adolescence and early childhood
Ciaran Fairhurst – Carian will be demonstrating a model of the James Webb Space
Telescope’s Near Infrared Camera which simulates how astronomers search for the most
distant galaxies in the universe
Dr Marie-Fabrice Gasasira Uwamahoro – Marie will be demonstrating activities she has used with secondary school students to increase knowledge of the steps underlying genetic diseases development
Dr Samantha Furfari – Samantha will be showcasing activities from her ‘colours in chemistry’ series which shows how colours are useful in chemistry in vastly different ways
Sonali Mohapatra – Sonali will be repeating her soapbox science talk of 2017 on gravity and blackholes: linking fantasy and reality
Tunde Alabi-Hundeyin – Tunde will be exhibiting his photo exhibition of the positive images of and by deprived children photographed during his fieldwork. Tunde’s research investigates the visual objectification of vulnerable children from the Global South as victims of poverty, war, and ill health by international NGOs
Visit our website to book your place at the Public Engagement Pop-Up where, fuelled by coffee and cake, you can also explore the Research Image Exhibition and vote for your people’s choice!
The Researchers in Schools programme offers a unique opportunity: a fully-salaried route into teaching through a three-year training and professional development scheme designed to turn researchers into high-effective classroom teachers. Delivered by The Brilliant Club, an award-winning charity that exists to widen access to highly-selective universities for pupils from under-represented groups, the programme places participants directly into schools to develop their skills in a real-life setting.
Benefits of the scheme include:
A highly competitive salary and benefits package with salary uplift for maths and physics teachers
Protected time to pursue the Researchers in Schools aims with the opportunity to maintain a research profile
Honorary Research Associate status from a research-intensive university
Minimum 11 weeks’ paid holiday, teachers’ pension
Upon completing the programme, all participants will gain Qualified Teacher Status.
Interested? The deadline for applications is 23rd May 2018, and more information can be found at here.