At DTU Chemical Engineering, PhD students are video virtuosos

Tuesday 26 Nov 19
by Frederik Appel Olsen



Frederik Lange Zafiryadis
PhD student
DTU Chemical Engineering
+45 26 71 82 06


Anne Ladegaard Skov
DTU Chemical Engineering
+45 45 25 28 25

The digital age poses new challenges to researchers’ communication skills and with the video media, new knowledge can reach even further. At DTU Chemical Engineering, the PhD students have taken on the challenge with camera in hand.

PhD student Valeria Chiaula’s lab coat flies up on her shoulders in slow motion. She is about to come to the rescue to a woman in pain (also played by Valeria) with a new technology for treatment of wounds. Once again, science saves the day.

The above scene stems from the video that Valeria produced herself about her research project in connection with a workshop that DTU Chemical Engineering offered. The chance to participate in a video workshop was also offered last year, and in 2019, the number of participants had risen to 55.

Valeria is one of the two winners, who were announced on the department’s annual Research Day, where all videos were showcased in front of an audience consisting of colleagues who voted for their favorites. The popcorn machine was also in place to create a genuine cinema setting.

“I think that the message of the research project reaches out a broader audience in a shorter time and in an efficient way with video. I was free to play with humor, music and a bit of “drama” more than in other situations like conferences, poster presentations or seminars. I believe that all these elements create a major involvement of the audience, who becomes more curious to know the rest of the story,” says Valeria Chiaula.   

Science communication that mom and dad can also understand

Frederik Zafiryadis was the other video winner, and both Frederik and Valeria now has the possibility of getting their videos produced by a professional production company.

“For me, the key learning of the video workshop is that such a format is a widely adopted method of communicating science, within, for instance, social media and online newspapers. By combining different types of dissemination and publishing approaches, the output of my research can target different audiences,” says Frederik and adds:

“I expect to use it more actively in the future.”

DTU Chemical Engineering provide the video workshops to help the researchers adapt to a modern, digital, and visual media landscape. Valeria Chiaula sees this as a necessity for the modern scientist:

“Regardless of who is in the audience, everyone must understand what I am talking about, even my mum and dad. Even if we are “nerd” engineers who love talking science, it is sometimes important to communicate our research in a simple and non-technical way,” she says.  

An academic life that reaches beyond the lab

Professor Anne Ladegaard Skov, Head of the Danish Polymer Center, has been the initiative-taker on the idea of getting the PhD students started with video communication:

“There is a greater and greater focus on communicating our knowledge. The video format is gaining ground as the preferred communication channel for groups as different as prospective DTU students, citizens with an interest in science, and among other researchers. It is not only important to be able to communicate our ideas within the world of the university – this is why we think that we are equipping the students for an academic life, both at DTU both also in their coming careers outside of the institution,” she says.

And according to Anne Ladegaard Skov, it has been a good decision to get a professional production company from the outside to run the workshops. This gets the videos a little further out in the world:

“In order to communicate effectively and obtain visibility, we have chosen to have professionals facilitating the workshops, and we think that some very good videos have come from this, thanks to them – and of course, first and foremost, thanks to the creative PhD students.”

Watch this year’s PhD videos here and follow DTU Chemical Engineering on LinkedIn and Instagram where we will post the videos one by one. 

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