Your Three Minutes as Nietzsche
“It is my ambition to say in 10 sentences what others say in a whole book.” If his quotability is any indication, Friedrich Nietzsche arguably succeeded in his goal.
While the average UCSF graduate student won’t likely find their thesis work paralleling the work of Nietzsche too directly, there is one such occasion for students to master the art of brevity so championed by the 19th century philosopher.
Every year in the university-wide Grad Slam Competition UCSF graduate students are challenged to present their dissertation research in a three minute oral presentation using accessible language.This year’s competition will take place on March 16th 2017, and interested students are encouraged to declare their intent to register by December 9th 2016.
The winner of the Grad Slam competition will be awarded a $3,000 cash prize and proceed to the UC system wide competition, the runner up will win $1,500, and the people’s choice speaker $750.
Grad Slam offers graduate students the unique challenge to distill their research goals and ideas into one clarified, concise package that will inspire a general audience to understand and value the significance of the work.
This competition presents students accustomed to communicating research in a group of scientific peers the valuable opportunity to translate their research into an accessible message for the general public.
Indeed, the art of being concise and clear is one best learned early on in a scientific career.
First year graduate students first encounter the challenge with strict word-limits on proposals and examinations. Mid-dissertation graduate students must again exercise this skill when communicating progress to their advisors during the precious minutes of an annual thesis committee meeting.
Eventually, every graduate student must condense years of research to adhere to the word count of journals. Looking into the future, a post-doctoral scholar entering the job-market must convincingly portray the significance of a proposed research plan to begin independent investigations as a group leader or professor.
Furthermore, professors and senior scientists aren’t awarded unlimited air time with their higher positions and must continue to teach within allotted lecture times, apply to grants with one-slide graphical summaries, and mentor their students effectively within the time available between all the other obligations.
Outside of academia, an industry professional must compelling present ideas to investors, who often lack a detailed scientific background, during competitive pitching meetings.
Clearly, the exercise of using compelling and approachable language to convey complex ideas is an invaluable aspect of graduate training that will benefit all in years to come!
Not ready to enter your dissertation into Grad Slam just yet, but your coursework, current research presentations, and grantsmanship are areas you would like to improve in? The UCSF Office of Career and Professional Development hosts ongoing workshops and maintains a repository of valuable resources to aid in the refinement of these professional skills.
What: UCSF Grad Slam Competition
When: Thursday, 16 March 2017, 4-6 p.m.
Where: Genentech Hall Auditorium at Mission Bay
Register by: 9 December 2016, midnight