Meet the 3MT winners: Kobi Wasner

LuxDoc 3MT: The complex made simple

The LuxDoc 3MT even has ended, and we’ve talked to the three winners – for the grand final, we talk to the first prize winner and people’s choice, Kobi Wasner!

Kobi Wasner and LuxDoc president Miriam Fougeras – Photo by Johan Ekström

Tell us about yourself and the research that you are working on.

I am from New York City and I am a fourth year PhD student at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine [part of the University of Luxembourg]. I work in the Molecular and Functional Neurobiology (MFN) group supervised by Dr. Anne Grünewald. The MFN group focuses on the contribution of mitochondrial DNA to the death of neurons in the Parkinson’s disease brain. Specifically, I am looking at the role of Parkin – a protein involved in many mitochondrial functions – and its influence on mitochondrial DNA maintenance.

How did you hear about the LuxDoc 3MT competition and what (or who) encouraged you to enter, why did you enter.

I became aware about the LuxDoc 3MT competition from an email which was circulated. I really enjoy sharing my research with those who do not have any science or biology background, as I can see how interesting it can be to those who are unaware of the incredible ways diseases are modeled.

Please share the process of participating online and the experience you went through.

A live presentation is very different from the process of participating online; live audiences react, laugh, and give you an idea of how you are doing. It also pressures you into getting it right (hopefully) on the first and only shot. Creating a video makes it difficult to determine whether what you are saying will make the audience laugh or stay focused, and knowing that you can restart at any moment to film again makes it easier to give up in the middle when you don’t feel confident or if you make mistakes.

What did you do to ensure that you could present your research in 3 minutes?

Practice, practice, practice. I must have practiced and timed myself at least 100 times to ensure that the words would flow and fit within the three minutes.

What is your biggest gain from LuxDoc 3MT competition and why? 

I have found that presentations in Europe and the US are quite different, whereby European presentations are more science-based and professional while in the US presentations are more relaxed. When I first arrived to Europe I was not confident to give presentations here, but now I am happy that I have found my confidence once again.

If you could tell other doctoral students one piece of advice who are considering entering LuxDoc 3MT competition next year, what would it be? 

Make a video which would capture YOUR attention and make YOU want to continue watching. If you are not excited in your video, others will not be excited to watch it. Be animated, explain why the research is so important and don’t be afraid to make a few jokes to keep the audience entertained.

What is the next step in your career?

Obviously this depends on COVID-19, but I am actually quite open to the next step in my career. While I can see myself continuing on as a post-doctoral candidate at another institute, I can also see myself in the industry setting either in a company or a small start-up. What I miss the most, though, is pure basic neuroscience and neuroanatomy, and I would love to be able to teach a course in that field so that I can get others excited about the field of neuroscience just as my professors did for me.