Feb. 16, 2022

Postdoc research in the spotlight, 3 minutes at a time

Third annual Research Slam shows off range and impact of postdoctoral research
Postdoc research in the spotlight
Winners of the 2022 Postdoc Research Slam. From left: Cameron Semper, Catherine Hume, Chukwunonso Nzelu, Samantha Noyek, and Deepika Dogra.

UCalgary’s third annual Postdoc Research Slam wrapped up on Feb. 4, the culmination of weeks of preparation for the events’ 12 finalists. The challenge was for each participant to present their research in an engaging and comprehensive way, in just three minutes, using one PowerPoint slide. 

I gained an appreciation of how difficult it is to distill the essence of an entire research project into a three-minute video,” says Dr. Cameron Semper, PhD, winner of this year's slam. Semper is a postdoctoral scholar in the Cumming School of Medicine, and his winning entry explored producing meat from cell cultures, and how to reduce costs in cellular agriculture. 

“Every word matters in such a condensed format, and I spent a lot of time carefully considering the language I used. I received wonderful feedback throughout the process that really helped me improve, says Semper. 

Thanks to the slam being hosted digitally this year, contestants were able to share their research with their entire networks and compete for the People’s Choice Award. Votes were tallied online, and the winner was Dr. Deepika Dogra, PhD, for her presentation A Precision Medicine Approach to Modelling a Rare Pediatric Epilepsy

“This process allowed me to think about the significance of my research work in a better way,” says Dogra, postdoctoral scholar in the Cumming School of Medicine.  

The Postdoc Research Slam is inspired by the long-running MyGradSkills 3 Minute Thesiscompetition. It is an exercise in knowledge translation, informing viewers about the impact of postdoctoral research in everyday life. The judges evaluated contestants’ communication style, comprehension, and engagement within the three-minute time limit. The votes have been tallied and the competition is done, but you can still watch all of the entries on the postdoc website 

The research slam is a highlight of our year because we get to see the tremendous range and impact of postdoctoral research,” says Dr. Penny Pexman, postdoctoral program director. “This year's competition was no exception, and highlighted the incredible calibre of postdocs here at UCalgary.”

Dogra and Semper had some valuable advice for any postdocs considering entering the slam next year.I would give the advice to next year’s contestants to enjoy preparing the video and slide deck, think of it as a fun exercise that would help in spreading the word about your contribution to science to a general audience,” says Dogra.

“You need to embrace the challenge and go for it,” says Semper. “As scholars we need to be able to effectively communicate our research and this was a wonderful opportunity to practise and improve. The possibility that you can win a prize is just a bonus, I really think the value is in the exercise of putting together your slide and your speech.”

This year’s winners are:

1st Place: Cameron Semper, Cumming School of Medicine, Producing Meat from Cell Cultures: Helping to Reduce Costs in the Field of Cellular Agriculture.

2nd Place: Catherine Hume, Cumming School of Medicine, Investigating ‘The Munchies’; How Does Cannabis Use Alter Our Eating Habits?

3rd Place (tie):

People’s Choice: Deepika Dogra, Cumming School of Medicine, A Precision Medicine Approach to Modelling a Rare Pediatric Eepilepsy