Who said that earning a PhD is a lonely journey? Not anymore. PhD candidates and postdocs wanting to practice explaining their work to ‘ordinary people’ are invited to enlist for the first-ever scientific speed-dating event on campus called ‘I-Lab-U’ on February 28. Before that event, a first round will take place at 18:00 at Rotterdam Library on 24 January under the theme ‘The spark between us’.
I-Lab-U was the winner of last year’s competition on science communication by the Bataafsch Genootschap on the occasion of its 250th anniversary. The question was: how can the connection between scientists and the public be improved in an experimental way?
Dr Athina Vidaki, a postdoc in the field of epigenetics at Erasmus MC, proposed a speed-date between researchers and members of the audience. She drew her inspiration from her experience as a forensic science ambassador to talk about her research.
After a small trial at Erasmus MC, she received a lot of enthusiastic feedback, both from researchers and the audience. Here’s a selection.
- “Talking in simple terms is still challenging for me, but definitely something that can be improved with experience over time. I loved the interaction and the curiosity of the public about my research!”
- “I was intrigued by some of the questions from the public, not what I was expecting! Interacting directly with the public helped me see my research from a different perspective!”
Virology researcher, scientist
- “Finding common ground when talking to a non-expert public is important. Sometimes scientists start talking ’science’, but all they really do is talk to the public in another language! Sharing experiences with other scientists at the I-Lab-U event was useful!”
Evolutionary geneticist, scientist
- “The I-Lab-U experience was a lot of fun, and I got the chance to ask some questions I had after watching CSI to a real forensic scientist!”
- “I wish I had had more than five minutes with the scientists! But I got to have a drink with them afterwards and continue the chat. Would totally recommend it.”
Social worker, public
According to Vidaki, I-Lab-U is a fun way to improve your communication skills. She and her team are looking for TU Delft researchers to meet the public.
- I-lab-U, ‘The spark between us’, for discussions in topics like electrical engineering, neurobiology, robotics, behavioral and computer sciences. 24 January from 18:00, Rotterdam Library
- I-lab-U, ‘Getting closer’, for discussions in topics like virology, microbiology, transport, astronomy, nanotechnology and psychology. 28 February from 18:00, TU Delft Library