Ce Zhang (MD/PhD)

What made you get into Yale’s 3MT competition?

Before I came to Yale, I worked in a neuroscience lab at Johns Hopkins. Many of my friends at Hopkins who were involved in PhD research participated in the Hopkins 3MT competition, which was well-attended by faculty, staff, and students. This was my first exposure to 3MT and I really enjoyed listening to pitches about research projects that were outside my field but were explained in a very clear, engaging, and concise way. When I became a graduate student at Yale, I was excited to learn that Yale also held a 3MT competition and did not want to pass up the opportunity to hone my skills in scientific communication.

 

What did you find most challenging about having to narrow your whole research into just 3 minutes?

It was challenging to determine how to communicate the most important aspects of my research in a way that would keep the attention of a non-expert audience. There were many technical components of my research and it was hard to determine the most important ones that would make its way into my pitch and pitch slide. I found it essential to have someone else provide feedback on the pitch as they do not have an initial bias to what is important. It surprised me to learn what others found important to communicate versus what I thought was important. Lastly, I tried to deliver my pitch as I was telling a story in order to keep the audience engaged, with an opener and ending that can be relatable to the general public. Halfway through the competition, you had to adapt to a virtual format.

 

How did you find the experience and which tools that OCS offered you found most helpful?

It was interesting and challenging to navigate through the virtual format. In the virtual format, you are confined to an area and so it was more of a challenge to express non-verbal gestures, which helps convey excitement and enthusiasm for your research. I remember a habit of mine during live presentations is to look and point directly at the slide, and I was not able to find a good way to do this in the virtual format. It was helpful to record an initial version of my pitch and then send it to OCS 3MT advisors for their feedback on the pitch.

 

Any words of advice for the people trying this year?

I would check out virtual 3MT pitches from Yale and other universities in order to get an idea of how to structure and deliver your pitch in a virtual format. Also, I would seek feedback at some point from the Yale 3MT advisors Hyun Ja Shin and Brian Frenette, as they provide great feedback on your pitch and slide. Lastly, definitely practice in front of as many people as you can and receive as much feedback as possible in order to ensure that your pitch is engaging to a variety of audiences. Good luck!