Nov. 14, 2019

Inaugural Research Slam shines spotlight on postdoctoral research

Competition highlights postdocs' important work in every discipline across campus

On Nov. 1, 12 UCalgary postdoctoral scholars pitched their research to a room of friends, colleagues and judges to compete for prizes and glory at UCalgary’s first Postdoc Research Slam. Each competitor had three minutes and one PowerPoint slide to communicate their research in an engaging and comprehensive way.

“Our competitors brought enthusiasm and passion to their presentations, and it was fascinating to learn about their research and findings,” says Dr. Penny Pexman, PhD, postdoctoral program director. “Postdocs are located in every faculty on campus and to bring them together to engage with their research was truly inspirational.”

  • Above: Postdoc Research Slam winners, from left: Brae Anne McArthur, Eli Kinney-Lang and Raquel Farias Franyutti.

Currently, UCalgary has 551 postdocs on campus conducting research as part of labs and teams in every discipline. Many come with advanced skills and a research perspective developed at other leading institutions from around the world.

“Events like this bring everyone together to get a sense of the important work taking place on our campus,” says third-lace winner Raquel Farias Franyutti. “Presenting really made me examine my research project and its relevance.”

The Postdoc Research Slam is modelled after 3 Minute Thesis, which is led at UCalgary by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. In preparation for the competition, contestants were required to attend a presentation skills workshop, and were invited to attend feedback sessions with campus experts.

The competition is designed as an exercise in knowledge translation, informing the audience of the greater impact of postdoctoral research in everyday life. The judges evaluated contestants’ communication style, comprehension, and engagement within the three-minute time limit.

“The nervousness associated with presenting is outweighed by the excitement of sharing new ideas,” says first-place winner Brae Anne McArthur, who presented about her research on digital screen time and child development. “During the process I was surrounded by brilliant scholars who are now new friends!”

“Our postdocs are a critical part of the research engine here at the university and it’s important to support their growth as they transition from researchers to professionals in their fields,” says Pexman. “The research slam was an excellent way to help them harness their communication skills.”

The top three received a travel grant from the office of the vice-president (research), Inventure$ 2020 tickets from Alberta Innovates, UCalgary Active Living memberships, and items from Innovate Calgary. The first-place winner also received a one-on-one career counselling session from UCalgary Career Services.

This year’s winners are:

First place: Brae Anne McArthur, Faculty of Arts
Second place: Eli Kinney-Lang, Cumming School of Medicine
Third place: Raquel Farias Franyutti, Cumming School of Medicine