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Coimbra Group celebrates 3MT Winner and Arenberg Prize Laureate

30 June 2021

On Tuesday 29 June 2021, the Coimbra Group held the online final of its 5th edition of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, which has been developed by the University of Queensland and consists of effectively explain one’s research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Our congratulations go to Dounia Ziyati, a PhD Candidate at the Doctoral Schools of the Universities of Montpellier Languedoc Roussillon, on winning the 2021 competition!  Through her brilliant talk “Compact PV-CSP hybrid systems: Expanding the global solar market beyond daylight power”, Dounia illustrated a valuable and economic model for the exploitation of solar energy.




Congratulations also to the runners-up of the competition, Favour Onyeogaziri, a PhD candidate at Uppsala University, and Robin Amsters, a PhD candidate at KU Leuven, for their excellent research work and outstanding performance. Favour’s research focus on cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM), a neurovascular dysplasia affecting about 0.5% of the entire human population. Her thesis aims to study novel mechanisms in the pathogenesis and progression of CCM and identify novel therapeutic targets. Whereas with a presentation titled “Lighting the Way for Lost Robots”, Robin explained to our audience how his research work aims to help indoor robots localise themselves.

The performances of Dounia, Favour and Robin were assessed by a judging panel of five members from Coimbra Group universities on the basis of comprehension, content, engagement and communication. This year’s Coimbra Group 3MT jury included:

  • Maria Francesca Di Filippo: Winner of the 2020 Coimbra Group 3MT Competition, University of Bologna
  • Giulia Licini: Chair of Coimbra Group STEM Working Group and Professor of Organic Chemistry, University of Padova
  • Gerald Lind: Senior Professional, Doctoral Education/Early-Stage Researcher Development, University of Graz
  • Bevin Mcgeever: Chair of Coimbra Group Research Support Officers Working Group and ERC Research Projects Officer, Research Development Office, Trinity College Dublin
  • Riitta Pyykkö: Emerita Vice-Rector, University of Turku (Science Communication expert)

After the pitches of the three finalists, we had the pleasure to welcome, as guest speaker, the President of the European Council for Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers (EURODOC), Giulia Malaguarnera. She presented the perspective of early-career researchers on Open Science, a timely topic the importance of which has been brought to the fore by the Covid-19 crisis.

“Open Science is just good science” – said the EURODOC’s president – “It is nothing new; it is a way to make research processes transparent”.

In a conversation with the hosts of the event, Ludovic Thilly and Stephan Schröder-Köhne, on the opportunities that Open Science can bring, Giulia Malaguarnera highlighted the barriers to embracing Open Science practices, from the point of view of early-career researchers. According to the latest EURODOC’s findings, there is still little awareness of Open Science and more training would be beneficial. When asked about the key recommendations with regard to a smooth and fast transition to Open Science, Ms Malaguarnera said: “We need increased awareness. Don’t be afraid of training people in Open Science practices and don’t be afraid of sharing negative results. We do have the instruments – we just need to use them”.  She concluded her talk by suggesting to set a date by which we decide to switch to Open Science.

The event concluded with the Award Ceremony for the 2021 Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus students, with the participation of the Arenberg Foundation President, H.S.H Duke Leopold d’Arenberg. The prize acknowledges, every year since 2007, the crucial added value of Erasmus+ exchanges to students’ Master degree work. Ms Katharina Wenderott, a Master’s graduate in Psychology from the University of Göttingen who spent her 5-month Erasmus at the University of Granada, is this year laureate.

The recording of the event is available here.

For further information about the 3MT competition.

Read more about the Arenberg Foundation.