I feel incredibly honoured to be chosen as the winner of the Fast Computing Zone. I have enjoyed every minute of the competition, and I hope that this is a reflection that the students share some of these feelings.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the other scientists in my zone – Martin, Kathryn, Stewart, Laura and Miriam. I genuinely believe that any of them would be equally deserving of the win, and it was a pleasure to hear their anecdotes, opinions and jokes. I also learnt a lot myself from their outstanding answers (though Stewart and I will have to agree to disagree on the best Disney princess). I’m also very grateful to all of the I’m a Scientist staff and moderators for doing an amazing job of running the event so smoothly, and to STFC for sponsoring the zone. Finally, I’d like to thank my supervisor Arttu Rajantie for being understanding and encouraging of my choice to devote time to outreach as well as my studies, and my office mates for putting up with my nervous commentary on the live evictions!
I didn’t really know what to expect from the competition – I entered it because I like talking about science, and because I think that it’s important to let people know that scientists are real people too and not some kind of alien species. After my first live chat, however, I was hooked! The enthusiasm of the students was inspiring, and some of the questions were incredibly thought-provoking. I think students are great at thinking outside the box because they’re not quite fully in the box yet themselves, and that’s very refreshing! The chats and questions soon became the highlight of my day, and I learnt a lot myself by participating, in terms of improving my skills at explaining (and typing!), but also through thinking about and researching the questions we received. To anybody wondering whether they should enter I’m a Scientist, the answer from me is a resounding yes!
One of the many stand-out moments of the competition was a brief conversation during a live chat on the final day. Unfortunately I can’t remember the student’s username, or the exact wording, but the initial question was something like “Do you think people will learn about your work in the future?” I replied something basically saying “Maybe if I’m very, very lucky.” The response was something along the lines of: “Well, if we remember your chat with us then will that do?” And that summarises everything for me: if over the competition I or any of the other scientists have said something that somebody will remember, or that sparks someone’s interest to learn more, then I consider this an absolute success. I wish all of the students who participated the absolute best of luck, and I hope to talk to some of you again in the future – maybe discussing your latest research!
Scientists! If you’d like the chance to win funding for your own public engagement work, apply for the next I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here: imascientist.org.uk/scientist-apply