by Xinyang Fan

I am a CLEX PhD student based at the University of Melbourne. My research interest is focused on quantifying the impact of climate change on groundwater resources. It was a great pleasure for me to be selected as part of the fifth 20 PhDs in 20 minutes group to present my research on the Einstein A Go-Go radio show on the Triple R 102.7 FM on Sunday morning, March 21.

Science communication skills are very important for researchers to communicate their research work outside of their research field. I applied for this opportunity to improve my communication skills and was excited to be selected as part of the group to present!

Dr Shane, the show’s host, is an experienced and knowledgeable radio presenter. He was very helpful in preparing us for the show. For most PhD students, it was the first time speaking on the radio, so Shane tried to provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere for us and made sure we had a good first experience. Before the actual show, the group members attended a brief session with Shane to get a feel for the show, talk about any concerns we may have, get the chance to know each other, and receive presenting tips. For example, regarding the content and the audience, he noted we would be talking to a group of well-educated people with a keen interest in science, but not from my research field. 

Because of social distancing rules, the show was held via Zoom rather than in the radio studio. Even though I was interviewed at home, I still felt nervous before the show as it was my first time doing media, it was live, and I was not sure about the size of the audience.

I found preparing for the interview was very helpful. I listened to the previous shows on Triple R and prepared for my interview accordingly. In the actual show, every participating PhD student was very supportive, which was shown by our busy Zoom room chat and tweets. 😊 Dr. Shane asked very interesting questions during the show and facilitated the show very smoothly.

Overall, it was a great and very interesting experience for me. I am very happy to have participated and have a sense of achievement that I overcame my nerves, improved my communication skills, and formed a friendship with a group of awesome PhD students from various disciplines. If you are a PhD student like me with no or little media exposure experience, but interested in presenting your research in the media and practicing science communication skills, I would highly recommend you to seize this kind of opportunity in the future, as it would be very fun and is a great opportunity to learn and improve!