Alma Yrjänäinen works as a doctoral researcher at the Adult Stem Cell Group at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology at CoEBoC, Tampere University. Her research focuses on creating a three-dimensional study model for obese fat tissue. This model can be used for studying cellular interactions within obesity and elucidate the biological changes in obese human fat tissue.
Three Minute Thesis (3MT), was organised by Tampere University for the first time on January 23, 2021. 3MT is an academic competition where doctoral candidates have to present their PhD project in three minutes to the general public as clearly and interestingly as possible. The aim is to communicate research and its results and significance in a manner that enables non-experts to understand what it is all about.
Alma Yrjänäinen describes the experience as ‘a perfect learning curve’. ‘’At first, I thought it isn’t that challenging but as I started to rehearse the pitch, three minutes just flew by’’ she comments on building the presentation. Yrjänäinen was surprised on the amount of time and effort how much it would take to have a fluent presentation. ‘’I practiced continuously. I tried to recreate that nervous situation by pitching to my colleagues and professors, my friends and family. Luckily, the pitching became easier and easier after every performance.’’
The finalists were coached by Ira Virtanen, a Tampere University specialist in communications and a well-known public speaker, who analytically reviewed the pitch, helped on fine-tuning the script and gave advanced tips for non-verbal communication. ‘’It felt great to have personal guidance for the presentation. Ira was encouraging and shared her views and suggestions for the pitch. I learned a lot and, luckily, I can utilize those skills in the subsequent performances as well’’ Yrjänäinen describes.
The competition was organized during the Tampere University Science Forum 2021. Yrjänäinen performed well, although she felt overwhelmed in the scene. ‘’I was first in line to give my pitch and I felt excited and nervous. But the moment that I stood in front of the camera I felt relaxed. ‘I got this’, I thought and started my presentation. I even had a small blackout, but I was able to bounce back, and thinking back that moment really makes me grateful that even if the performance isn’t perfect it can still be successful’’.
Reflecting on the experience, Yrjänäinen is motivated on continuing popularizing science. ‘’I’m passioned on making biomedical sciences accessible for everyone. It might mean that one needs to simplify a lot, but it will always be the case in science. In my opinion, it is vital for academia to communicate inclusively. There are already scientists working towards that goal, but I hope we can increase the volume of experts to join e.g. social media platforms. By providing answers to the question ‘’why?’’ the experts will justify the essential need of academic research, the reciprocal stepwise process of discovering the unknown.’’
The winner was selected from the finalists by a jury. The jury consisted three members, Director of Innovation Taru Pilvi and Professor of Communication Sciences Pekka Isotalus from Tampere University and Cecilia Christersson, a representative of the international competition organisation, Pro Vice Chancellor of the Global Engagement and Challenge Based Learning at Malmö University. The competition winner was Veera Koskue, doctoral researcher in the Bio and Circular Economy research group at the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences. Veera Koskue will represent Tampere University in the virtual Southern African-Nordic Centre’s (SANORD) international 3MT finals which will be organised in Bergen, Norway in September 2021.
Almas pitch can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WDuppy9z70