Interview with Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni
Congratulations to Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni from Barts Cancer Institute, who received the People's Choice Award at this year’s national Vitae Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition!
Vinaya was selected as the Queen Mary winner in June 2020 and was the very first Queen Mary PhD student to reach the national 3MT final, after competing against PhD contestants from 52 institutions across the UK. Vinaya won £1,000 to spend on a public engagement activity after giving a great presentation at the 3MT final on 16 September.
Congratulations on winning the People’s Choice Award, how did it feel?
Absolutely amazing! It was wonderful to know that the audience understood my project and voted for me to win. I am very grateful to my lab at Barts Cancer Institute led by Profesor Trevor Graham, who were wonderful throughout the process and supported me with the competition.
You successfully battled through the different stages of the competition to reach the finals, can you tell us more about taking part?
There were some technical challenges this year with respect to the earlier stages of the competition as these involved recording a video from home, which is something I didn’t have much experience with previously. The Queen Mary Researcher Development team organised some training earlier in the year that really helped with providing useful tips to help with this, including tips on how to ensure adequate light and audio quality for these recordings.
What tips do you have for presenting research effectively and with confidence?
I found it useful to attend the training sessions with Dr Fryni Panayidou and the Researcher Development team as this involved communicating my project to other students with different backgrounds. This helped me realise quite quickly that I needed to keep my presentation focused and decide on key points in advance to help me illustrate my project without over-complicating things! “Less is more” is a great tip for presenting research effectively, especially to an audience with a diverse range of backgrounds.
What have you learned from taking part in the 3MT competition?
I’ve learnt some key skills including how to structure a quick summary of my project to make it interesting and relevant to a wide audience, and how to use voice modulation and pauses effectively to keep their attention. Relatedly, the competition was also a useful setting to learn some tips on creating good-quality video recordings, which is a skill which may prove useful in the current climate of online/virtual conferences.
What would you say to others looking to take part in the competition next year?
I would encourage all PhD students to give it a try. It helps you place your project in the context of the wider scientific setting, which can really help with motivation! Also, PhD students at any stage can participate and possibly win, including those in their first year, like myself! Don’t be put off if you don’t have many results from your project yet — consider entering anyway!
What’s the best thing about being a researcher at Queen Mary?
It's wonderful having access to world-class facilities in a vibrant part of London. It's great being able to work hard on campus during the day while also having the opportunity to step out for a lunch or a drink from a fantastic and diverse range of cafes and pubs.
What do you see as your role in helping the University achieve its Strategy 2030?
Strategy 2030 includes the need to ensure that social impact is embedded in research activities. I hope to use the £1,000 prize awarded as part of the People's Choice Award to engage in public engagement activities, increasing the social impact of the research we do in our labs at Queen Mary. Competitions like the Three Minute Thesis allow researchers the opportunity to present their research to the general public at large, which can be difficult to come by otherwise. Such opportunities help increase social impact of research.
What’s your favourite place on any of our campuses?
It's lovely to have access to the green space in the middle of the campus at Charterhouse Square, where our lab often meets to share a drink after a long day, especially in the summer. More recently, it's been great to have the opportunity to meet outdoors for meetings here. It’s great that we have access to a green space in the middle of built-up London!
If you could tell a prospective student one thing about Queen Mary, what would it be?
Queen Mary has a wide range of courses and workshops provided by the Researcher Development team, potentially more so than other universities providing post-graduate education. In fact, many of the courses have moved online rapidly in response to the pandemic, allowing for continued researcher development.
If you hadn’t been a histopathology doctor, what job would you have liked to do?
In an alternate universe, I would have loved to run an independent bookshop. You get to recommend books you love when business is booming and can bury yourself in a good book when business is quiet- win-win!