Mr Epidemiology

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Science and Storytelling

A short post today, as I know everyone is busy, and the time you spend reading could be better spent listening to me in the YouTube video above 🙂

I was fortunate enough to speak at TEDxQueensu last semester. For those of you familiar with the TED format, it’s a short (< 18 minute) talk about an idea or concept. Some famous ones are by Sir Ken Robinson (Schools Kill Creativity), Candy Chang (Before I die, I want to) and this talk by Simon Sinek (How great leaders inspire action). The latter is the one that inspired me to do this talk.

In a nutshell, I think science is awesome. But I also think that science is suffering a public relations crisis at the moment, with people having a hard time understanding what it is we do, and more important why scientific research matters. That idea is what fuelled my TEDx talk above.

For those wondering, TEDxQueens was a great experience. There were a range of people there, including fellow PhD candidate Heidi Penning, who spoke about her experiences raising a child with autism in her talk entitled “Discovering what lies beyond the bend.” I’d definitely recommend attending next year if this is the kind of thing you enjoy – and definitely audition if you have an idea worth spreading!

Thanks again to the TEDxQueensu team for such a great opportunity and for putting on such an awesome event.

This piece was simulblogged on Gradifying

A Mr Epid-inar: 3MT – The Three Minute Thesis Contest!

Mr Epid-inar’s are short talks delivered by Mr Epidemiology at various venues; classes, conferences, speaker series’ etc. They should not be confused with the leafy green vegetable (French humour! Le woohoo!)

3MT is a public speaking contest started at the University of Queensland back in 2008. In three minutes, you have to describe your PhD and why it is important. You are judged on your communication style, comprehension and how well you engage the audience. Oh, and you are only allowed one (static) PowerPoint slide. Recently, Queen’s University decided they wanted to host a 3MT contest, and send out an email asking for participants.

Well, that sounds difficult. And a little ridiculous – I’m supposed to condense my PhD into 3 minutes, without any slides, and still do it justice?

Very well. Challenge accepted!

3MT Talk from Mr Epidemiology on Vimeo.

Some thoughts on 3MT. I found the contest to be absolutely incredible. As an audience member, the presentation aspect was fun and novel, and I probably learnt more about what my colleagues were doing in that 90 minute session than I have in the last 2 years I’ve been at Queen’s. The variety of research was great, and because people were told to make it accessible for those outside of their area, they really worked hard and making the concepts clear. I think this, combined with PechaKucha 20×20, are great ways to break up the existing research paradigm and inject some life and energy into conferences.

As a presenter, I found the experience invaluable. Being forced to really ask what is important for the audience to know helped me distill my thesis down to its core components. Also, trying to come up with an exciting and novel way of presenting it was fun. If you have the opportunity to enter a 3MT contest near you, I strongly recommend doing it!! If you’ve been to a 3MT talk, let me know your experiences in the reply!

Special thanks to Anne G, Lindsay K, Kim F, Raymond F, Katie K, Rebecca B, Julia N and the rest of the Clinical Research Centre for their feedback on previous drafts of my 3MT talk. Also thanks to Jess S, Michelle D, Alison Y and all my Epi and Kinesiology friends who showed up to support me on the day. Finally, thanks to Colette Steer and all the organizers and judges of the 3MT contest!

A Mr Epid-inar: Cardboard Boxes: Spaceships, Forts or Friends?

Mr Epid-inar’s are short talks delivered by Mr Epidemiology at various venues; classes, conferences, speaker series’ etc. They should not be confused with the leafy green vegetable (French humour! Le woohoo!)

Serendipity Hall is a talk series in Kingston. They’re set up in the spirit of TED talks, and are meant to provide a platform for people to discuss issues they feel passionately about, and to spur discussion among attendees. I used this opportunity to talk/rant about my view on higher education and how I think we need to make serious changes in the way we evaluate scientists.

I’ve embedded the talk below for those who want to check it out. If the link doesn’t work, then try this link instead. If it still doesn’t work, let me know and I’ll get my tech guy to check it out (ie me in sweat pants).

Serendipity Hall – Cardboard Boxes

View another webinar from mrepid

A note. The talk was hosted at The Grad Club in Kingston (thanks Grad Club for hosting us!) Around the 3 minute mark, someone came in to give out food, so there’s a bit of silence, and then around the 13 minute mark a fridge turns on, providing a comforting buzzing sound in the background.

Some more thoughts about TED talks and higher education after the jump.

Continue reading “A Mr Epid-inar: Cardboard Boxes: Spaceships, Forts or Friends?”

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