Creativity and innovation took center stage at Johns Hopkins University during the recent Empower Your Pitch! contest, which challenged doctoral students to present their research in an engaging and unconventional manner.
The contest, modeled after the popular Three-Minute Thesis format, invited participants to compress the essence of their research into a succinct three-minute presentation aimed at a broad audience. Yet, Empower Your Pitch! took the concept a step further, inviting students to inject a dose of creativity into their pitches by using elements such as music, poetry, electronic media, and/or props. The idea was to break away from the rigid format of traditional contests and encourage an atmosphere of creativity and fun, with an emphasis on skill development and feedback.
Participants representing six JHU schools benefited from communication training workshops and feedback from judges and postdoctoral fellows acting as coaches. The final round featured 13 doctoral students and took place at the Imagine Center for Integrative Learning and Life Design; judged included Darrion Nguyen, a global STEM communicator and founder of Lab Shenanigans who also delivered a keynote address on mastering digital communication.
"It was an extraordinary experience witnessing an event that bridges the arts and sciences," Nguyen said.
This year's winners were:
- Amanda Loftin, Department of Pathology, School of Medicine
- Morayo Akande, Department of Population Family and Reproductive Health, Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Junellie Gonzalez Quiles, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
- Tom Carpino, Department of Epidemiology, Bloomberg School of Public Health.
"EYP is a fantastic way to develop communication skills," Loftin said. "I have become a better teacher, writer, and presenter that is more capable of connecting with my audience."
Lessons learned and the success of this event will be shared by PHutures staff at the Graduate Career Consortium Annual Conference in Indianapolis this summer.
"This revised and revamped research communication contest provides an inclusive and supportive environment for all our doctoral students focused on skill development and feedback," said Gian Carlo Molina-Castro, strategy and operations manager of PHutures. "Empower Your Pitch! has effectively shone a light on the potential of infusing creativity and fun into the communication of research."
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