Jake Heinlein (PhD, Chemical and Environmental Engineering)

Why did you choose to participate in Yale’s 3MT competition?

I heard about this competition my first year at Yale and always wanted to participate in it, but never had the time until this past year. I enjoy public speaking and wanted to use this opportunity to practice that skill, as well as develop a speech I could give to all of my friends and family outside of Yale who ask me about my research. Additionally, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and not being able to work in lab as much, this was a fun way for me to stay engaged with my research and think about my project on a broader scale.

 

What did you find most challenging about describing your research in this format?

I think the most challenging aspect for me was finding useful analogies that were ubiquitous and accurate. There are plenty of comparisons that would be clear to anyone, but that weren’t actually true, and I wanted to make sure that what I was saying was scientifically accurate as well as easily followable. I also found the virtual nature of the talk to be quite challenging. It was hard to make hand gestures, for example, towards a slide that I couldn’t see in real time. I had to rig a whole set up in my kitchen with my computer and camera to try and get the best video I could, and just filming my clip took many takes and took much more time than I originally expected. However, adapting to these circumstances was a fun challenge that is especially helpful given all of the virtual conferences and events happening today.

 

Have you put these public communication skills into practice, and how have they contributed to your professional development since the competition?

Making this presentation has helped me find a concise way to introduce my project to anyone, which is extremely helpful when I meet someone new and they want a quick explanation of my research. Additionally, this competition was my first time recording and submitting a virtual talk, which is becoming more and more common now so this opportunity to practice lighting and framing has helped me make other professional talks as well.

 

Do you have any advice for this year’s participants?

Definitely start early! I started too late to be able to complete the Poorvu CTL Certificate, which I wish I had been able to do. Additionally, try to show your talk and give your presentation to as many different people as possible. Every fresh set of eyes will have something different to say about your talk and can provide really valuable feedback.