PhD Contest – as we saw it: insights and winners

PhD Contest – as we saw it: insights and winners

PhD Contest – as we saw it: insights and winners

Last week, 24 March, TEDxGhent presented the annual PhD contest which is a pleasant gathering of bright minds, brave ideas and a curious audience – in unmissable TED style.

Those who could not join us, before we reveal the winning researchers, have a look at the memorable takeaways of the evening!

Kicking off with a hot topic, brain tricks, Jan Claes introduced us to the concept that mistakes are scientifically tweakable. In many cases, you have too much on your mind and information overload prevents you from reflecting on what you have learned. To improve, you could have found out which type of learner you are – sequential or global-, whether details or mere facts excite you and if you were the genius seeing through the chaos or the champion of structure, after which you could have seen how to use the fitting method for your problem-solving.

Have you ever wondered what is that white powdery mist surrounding the galaxies on photos? Sébastien Viaene invited all of us in his inspiring speech to look up to the starry skies and imagine what is up there, just over our head, mostly concealed by unmeasurable amount of stardust. Talks wandered also to more philosophical waves searching for the correct translation of time between ancient Buddhist concepts and the Chinese language in the presentation of Yezi Mu.

Robotics is gaining traction while achieving a great level of sophistication, just as we saw in a practical presentation of Yao Yao about how to apply computer simulation of swarm robots in comparison to the patterns in nature, like swarms of birds. Hajar Ghaem Sigarchian introduced us to a new concept of children’s books – a book which literally grows with your children and reflects on their development by helping to choose the right content over the years based on gathered metadata.

Dub-dub, drum beat – here come the prizes!

Do you dare to think about the inconvenience problems that elderly have to face towards the evening of life? According to Bjorn Van Keymeulen’s thought-provoking presentation, digitalisation can give a humane answer to problems everyone in the system faces by using a “smart care system”. As much as it left the audience speechless, his message about a potentially better treatment of incontinence certainly came across. The talk hit the nail on the head and earned him 3rd place in the contest, congrats!

What would be your guess, how big your water footprint is? Unfortunately, there is no plot twist – as Dries Seuntjens hinted –, it is incredibly huge. Good news that Belgian researchers, a country that is world leader in recycling(!), took up the challenge and are on a quest to reduce water waste to the minimum in Ghent and build a sustainable ecosystem for the city. There is no debate in here, close that tap – and pat his back: he won the 2nd place with this thoughtful project!

Do you know that you are morally responsible even for a chicken? Everyone counts and should count in the moral community. Just as optical illusions can trick your brain, what is the guarantee that you can outsmart your moral illusions that violate even your deepest moral values and influence your decisions? Who invented human rights only for humans? Stijn Bruers presented a challenging argument whether you can always trust your moral judgments or better to hone your critical thinking. No wonder that he was awarded with the audience’s prize!

And the winner?

What is common in asthma and farm dust? An interesting research project proved that children growing up in farms – surrounded by cows and farm dust – are less likely to suffer from asthma throughout their lives. Implications of the discovery in finding a cure to asthma and other allergies are far reaching, and the fact that great minds like Martijn Schuijs are focusing on it gives us reason to be optimistic. With this speech, he won the 1st place of the PhD contest and was granted the opportunity to present his results to the audience of TEDxGhent’s main event in June. Big congrats!

On behalf of the TEDxGhent team, we would like to extend a huge thank you to all PhD contest participants for the fabulous talks and effort they put in preparation; for our volunteers for the tireless organising – and of course, for our open-minded, amazing audience. We are looking forward to seeing you at our next event, Women & STEM, 12 April!

PhD Contest Images


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.