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SMD PhD students in ‘Junk the Jargon’ final

Monday 25 March 2013

On Wednesday 27 February, 10 PhD students from QM competed in the annual Junk the Jargon competition. Junk the Jargon challenges participants to communicate their research topic in an engaging and fun way to a broad audience - in just three minutes. The winner, Evelina Arushanova, a first year PhD student from the Particle Physics Research Centre, taught us how the ‘neutrino’ particle is a lot like a spy. PhD students from BL went on to claim second and third prize.

Evelina, who also won the audience prize, demonstrated the neutrino particle, and how to isolate it, through a variety of props – including a real life spy, top secret documents, mobile phones and even a rock! Evelina is involved in the SNO+ experiment at QM, which was developed to study the properties in this elementary particle.

Second prize went to Stavros Orfanos, a first year PhD student from the Wolfson Institute, in Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Stavros works in the Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry, and is interested in schizophrenia, group therapies and, in particular, therapies which use non-verbal artistic techniques – such as music, art and dance – to help connect with those with the most therapy resistant forms of schizophrenia. Stavros demonstrated his research by engaging the audience in examples of such therapies.

Third prize went to Abbie Fearon, who is in the second year of her PhD at Barts Cancer Institute, School of Medicine and Dentistry. Abbie demonstrated, through the medium of a ‘recipe book’, how a DNA is like a recipe and sometimes a section of the recipe can mutate into cancer cells, and sometimes the recipe goes wrong, producing cancer. Abbie explained how her research is like a pair of ‘special scissors’, which will ‘snip’ out the incorrect part of the recipe, and replace it with the correct line – healthy DNA – preventing the cancer from developing.

The ten competitors, from across all three faculties, competed in the Skeel Lecture Theatre, People’s Palace, and were judged by a panel of experts, including Professor Peter McOwan, Vice-Principal (External Partnerships and Public Engagement); Professor Fran Balkwill, Director of the Centre of the Cell; Dr Thomas Dixon, Director of the Queen Mary Centre for History of the Emotions; and Professor John Rentoul, chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday and visiting Professor in the Mile End Group. Prizes of £400, £200 and £100 were awarded for the top three presentations.

Videos and photos from final will be available on the Learning Institute’s website shortly, where you can also read about Junk the Jargon, and view videos from previous year’s competitions.

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