Meet the 3MT winners: Sònia Sabaté Soler

LuxDoc 3MT: The complex made simple

The LuxDoc 3MT even has ended, and we’ve talked to the three winners – next up is runner up Sònia Sabaté Soler!

Photo by Johan Ekström

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

My name is Sònia and I am from Barcelona. Currently, I am a PhD student in the Developmental and Cellular Biology in the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) [part of the University of Luxembourg]. I started my PhD almost 2 years and a half ago, and I work with 3D cellular models – called organoids – to study Parkinson’s disease. Specifically, I work on the integration of immune brain cells into midbrain organoids (that mimic the middle area of the brain) with the aim of studying neuroinflammation in Parkinson’s disease.

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

I heard about the competition through the communications department from the LCSB. They forwarded an email from LuxDoc describing the contest and I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice my communication skills.

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

At the beginning, I was a bit confused. I did not know how to present the slide while showing also my face, but we always reached the communications department in the LCSB or the LuxDoc website for these kind of questions. The day I decided I would make the video, I spent almost 3 hours recording myself. I put my phone in a tripod and I had a remote to control when it started and stopped filming. Sometimes, I was presenting without pressing the button, and I pressed the button when the presentation was over. Other times I was filming and the tripod fell or my cat jumped around so I could not use that either. In the end, I was quite tired but it was such a fun experience! When I got to know I won the runner-up, that totally made my day (and my weekend!).

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

First, I wrote down the main ideas of my presentation. Once I knew how I wanted to distribute the information I presented without recording myself, but with a timer, to check how long was I speaking. At the beginning, I talked for more than 4 minutes, so I started removing information – maybe too specific – to end up with a more simple speech that lasted less than 3 minutes. After that, the recording adventure started!

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

Since I am interested in science communication and education, participating in the competition was a great training for me. By practicing, I improved my speech skills, which I consider is a huge gain. Besides, getting an award is for me a reinforcement that I am in the good way. It is like someone telling me “Hey, you’re doing good!”.

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

I would tell them to keep it simple. Do not try to make it a progress report or a detailed presentation of your PhD, but rather a simple explanation of what you are doing. Imagine you are talking to a friend (who works in a complete different field) about your project.

What is the next step in your career?

I have still more than a year and a half to go, so I am focusing on my thesis. When I have the opportunity to work or participate in communication-related projects, I am more than happy to do it. As most of PhD students, I am still not sure of what will happen next, but I am trying to enjoy the way!