Yes, three Doctoral Derby winners this year! Congratulations to Jolien Hendrix, Annelies Augustyns and Radwa Moanis. In the final round of this yearly science communication event, their three-minute pitch convinced the jury and the audience.
On Thursday 27th of May, 250 people attended the Doctoral Derby & Supervisor Award, part of the PhD Day. After a day full of online interviews, presentations, workshops and poster sessions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 9 Doctoral Derby finalists smoothly succeeded in pitching their research in front of their computer screen. The audience members were asked to vote for their favorite candidate.
” i wasn’t expecting this, as everyone did a really good job. “
The nail-biting public voting session ended up in an ex aequo, meaning that both Annelies Augustyns (Doctoral School of Human Sciences), with her research on Nazi Breslau, and Radwa Moanis (Doctoral School of Natural Sciences and (Bioscience) Engineering), whose research is about the production of super plastics, win the public vote. The jury panel, consisting of 7 members, gave its vote to Jolien Hendrix (Doctoral School of Life Sciences and Medicine). Her research pitch on DNA paperclips was the most captivating according to the jury members.
The jury panel, consisting of 7 members, gave its vote to Jolien Hendrix (Doctoral School of Life Sciences and Medicine).
“I wasn’t expecting this, as everyone did a really good job”, says Jolien Hendrix in her first reaction. Something Annelies Augustyns can relate to: “There were nine strong presentations. What this Doctoral Derby shows, is that popularizing research is very important. We can do it in a nice way, step out of the academic world and communicate directly to the general public.” Radwa Moanis also has a few words for the VUB community: “I’m so happy! This is a milestone in my career. I’d like to thank the VUB for this opportunity. I learned a lot, but it’s not just about learning, it was also so much fun! I encourage all my colleagues to participate in the Doctoral Derby next year.”
Annelies Augustyns (Doctoral School of Human Sciences), with her research on Nazi Breslau, wins the public vote.
Radwa Moanis (Doctoral School of Natural Sciences and (Bioscience) Engineering), whose research is about super plastics, also wins the public vote.
These three winners not only receive a research budget of 500 euro, they also thrive on the extra attention that comes with winning the Doctoral Derby, directly or indirectly. “To be very honest, last year I was hesitating to participate, because I was only a first year PhD student and I was not very confident”, says Ahmad Wali, winner of last year’s Doctoral Derby. “But once I joined the competition, I learned many new skills. I was also invited to represent the VUB at several international conferences. Regardless of winning the Derby, all the participants learn how to communicate their research to a non-academic audience and build a network with other researchers. Even today, we are still working together.”
Just like last year, the Doctoral Derby 2021 went digital. More than 50 PhD candidates subscribed to the latest edition. After having submitted a popular abstract and pitch video on their research topic, 39 remaining contestants faced a barrage of questions from the jury in the preselection event, last April. The 9 finalists, chosen by the VUB community and the jury, took part in a tailor-made pitch training. This not only prepared them for their digital research pitch, but also guided them through the recording of a professional pitch movie in collaboration with the Science Figured Out platform, of which you can see the result as of September 2021.