Notina Kafourou is a PhD student in the Department of Chemistry.
What was it like preparing for, and talking at, the annual FoNS Research Showcase?
What was nice about preparing a presentation for, and actually presenting at, the FoNS Showcase was the opportunity to talk about our field of research for an audience with diverse research interests. We are so used to speaking in front of researchers who are already experts in the field, and the FoNS event helped me to think about how to prepare this presentation differently. At the same time, it was a stress free presentation because it didn't have a competitive feel, it just served a mutual and genuine interest for the natural sciences.
Why are opportunities like this important?
Talking about your research has different benefits for everyone. I think the more you talk about your subject the more you understand it. The more diverse your audience is, the more emphasis there is on different aspects of the field of research each time. The more presentations you make the more questions you get, and questions end up not being scary but a way to explain your presentation and subject better. Even if you do not have a proper answer at the time of the question, there is always time to think afterwards, and most importantly, to realise that no one knows everything, and the expectation of perfection simply doesn't exist.
I find the PhD a very personal journey which in a sense is the process of gaining fluid knowledge, which when you get to present and talk about it during events like FoNS, the more solid it becomes.
Got any helpful advice for fellow students about giving an academic talk?
Just to add that all these events and presentations cannot be compared with the actual thing! Although I understand there was no other way than to virtually present our work, there are always positives and negatives with the pre-recorded presentation.
You get to listen to yourself speaking which is most of the time uncomfortable, but in the end you have to make peace with it. You can change the presentation any time you want, but then you might end up in a loop where you realise that it's never going to be as perfect as you would like. Then there is the realisation that a good recording needs good equipment that I doubt any of us had, and at the same time there are parameters that can disturb a recording and are unavoidable, from parcel deliveries to London's loudest sirens. I think all virtual events make you appreciate how beautiful is to spontaneously present in front of people and how much you don't have to worry about technicalities. The best part during events like the FoNS Showcase is to communicate, discuss and meet new people, and let's not forget, the celebration after the showcase is over. I guess we missed our chance for 2020 but thank you for doing your best to organise this event despite the difficult circumstances.
Watch Notina's Showcase talk
View other student profiles from the 2020 Research Showcase
Find out more about the 2020 Research Showcase
Centre for Environmental Policy, Mathematics, Physics
The Showcase includes a competition for the best speakers and posters: congratulations to the prizewinners!