Which research topic will you compete with?
I will introduce my PhD research project on the insulation of high voltage cables – these cables are necessary for integrating renewables into our power grids, important for tackling climate change! The aim of my research is to explore new sustainable material concepts that allow for reliable and efficient electrical transport over very long distances.
What made you enter Forskar Grand Prix?
During my PhD, I attended the amazing Advanced Communication GTS (Generic and Transferable Skills) course. The teacher, Erik Mattsson, offered valuable presentation advice which gave me hope that with practice, I could someday be good at giving presentations. This course was my first experience giving popular science presentations (a form of science communication). I was delighted because I finally found a way to combine my research work with my creative side!
That sounds interesting, could you please elaborate?
I studied at specialized music schools as a teenager, and still performed quite actively as a chemistry undergraduate, but music has largely taken a backseat since I started my PhD at Chalmers. Hence, I was energised by the epiphany that through science communication, I could still engage my creative side while doing research. Since then, I have been keen to take on science communication opportunities that came along, including Forskar Grand Prix. I thought, what did I have to lose if I gave it a shot? Perhaps time, which was scarce during that intense teaching season – this nearly made me give up on this opportunity. Thankfully, with encouragement from friends/colleagues and to avoid living in regret, I submitted my video for NÖRD (Nationell Övergripande Rikstäckande Deltävling).
How do you feel about the upcoming finale?
I am really excited! I had a lot of fun presenting my research at my PhD defence, but in Forskar Grand Prix, I must do it in 4 minutes instead of 20 minutes. This is a fun challenge but somehow feels more stressful (if we ignore the discussion with the opponent at a PhD defence). I’ve never presented under a strict time limit before, and unlike my submission for NÖRD I will only have one shot to execute my presentation. Nevertheless, I really look forward to presenting to a live audience – I’ve really missed the feeling of performing on stage.
You have been a doctoral student at the department for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Chalmers four years and recently defended your thesis, what are your plans now?
If all goes well with logistics, I will soon work on sustainable packaging in industry. This is very exciting because I would like to contribute to solutions for major issues like plastic pollution and climate change. Meanwhile, I have been working on founding the ‘’International Society for the Advancement of Science Communication (ISASC)” together with several researchers I met at the International Summer School – Communicating Science (ISSCS) (organised by Germany’s Wissenschaft im Dialog in partnership with the Alexander von Humboldt foundation).
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of science communication and the challenges we face in science communication. The aim of ISASC is to improve science communication globally, by fostering connections and collaborations among researchers, science communicators, journalists, and artists, across disciplines, geographic locations, and communities. I hope that, together with the rest of my team, we can enhance the impact of science communication and as a result empower diverse communities to make decisions for the betterment of our society and environment, through critical and innovative thinking.
More about Yingwei Ouyang and ISASC
Yingwei Ouyang's doctoral thesis “Novel Thermoplastic Material Concepts for High Voltage Cable Insulation - Engineering Immiscible Blends for a Sustainable Future”
More about Forskar Grand Prix
The competition is arranged by the association Vetenskap & Allmänhet. Competitors present their research in an engaging and easy-to-understand way in four minutes. They first compete in regional heats (live presentations) or NÖRD (video submissions). Winners of these competitions qualify for the finals, where they present their research in front of a live audience. Due to COVID-19, the final 2020/2021 has been postponed, but on 25 November it will now finally take place at Nalen in Stockholm. This event can also be streamed online.
Text: Jenny Holmstrand
Photo: Chalmers, Forskar Grand Prix