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Early career researchers pitch big

Elly Mackay

29 July 2021: The University of Canberra’s brightest minds came together tonight to share their exciting research as part of the annual Big Research Pitch competition.

The competition is the University’s flagship research communication event, where the top five people’s choice researchers (voted for from a pool of 12 entrants) can pitch their ideas to win a share of $14,000 in research funding.

The concept, designed to develop skills presenting research projects, is open to early career researchers to enable them to demonstrate the impact of their research, to the wider community.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity that these early career researchers have been provided with in this initiative; a broad platform from which to share their voices and ideas,” said Professor Leigh Sullivan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation.

“The five finalists have been selected from a pool of highly talented academics, and their selection is testament to both the excellence of their research projects and their skills in communication of science.”

Dr Bernard Brown, Dr Andrew Flood, Associate Professor Bradley Moggridge, Dr Claire O’Brien, and Dr Wubshet Tesfaye were the five finalists chosen to present on the Facebook Live event.

Of the prizes on offer Dr Wubshet Tesfaye took out first place for his research 'Next generation antimicrobials to fight skin sores', and Dr Andrew Flood came in second place, with his research project 'What is pain? What we don't know may hurt us'.

"This award means everything to me, and it means my research could change the lives of many Aboriginal people throughout Australia," Dr Tesfaye said.

"Thank you so much to the judges and the Faculty of Health for the support - I am so excited."

Dr Claire O'Brien was crowned the People’s Choice winner, for her project 'Debugging inflammatory bowel disease'.

Professor Sullivan said the competition showcased how important research is for finding practical solutions to real-world problems.

“The Big Research Pitch is so much more than a competition – research not communicated is invisible, so the competition is actually a training program dedicated to research communication,” Professor Sullivan said.

“During the process, our researchers not only learn the art of pitching and how to communicate clearly, but to identify different outlets for their work.

“The skills learnt empower our researchers in their everyday lives and translate across to written formats too.”

Three judges from across Canberra based their decisions on how convincing each pitch was, the communication of the researcher, and the merit of the research.

The first prize winner received $7,000, while the runner-up received $4,000. The People’s Choice pitch winner received $3,000.