I first learnt about the ABTA (Association of British Turkish Academics) Doctoral Researcher Awards (DRA) in February 2018 while searching for funding opportunities to cover conference attendance costs. According to its website, ABTA was set up to advance education and science in the United Kingdom and Turkey at academic institutions and conferences through channels such as presentations and publications. I vividly remember submitting my application in a frenzied rush the evening before deadline day. Unfortunately, my application was unsuccessful as I did not hear back from the team.
Fast forward 2019, a newsletter from my university’s Doctoral College pops up in my mailbox and therein I spot a call to apply for the 2019 ABTA Awards. Although I was stung by the previous year’s rejection (as could be expected), I applied nonetheless using feedback that I had gotten from other applications to make a stronger case. To be honest, I was confident about my application even though I knew it was very competitive.
I was so happy when I found out that I had been shortlisted as 1 of 5 finalists in the Natural & Life Sciences Category. The finale, which took place at University College London on Saturday 11th May 2019, was in the form of a 5-minute non-specialist research presentation.
My science communication experience with 3-Minute Thesis and Soapbox Science came in handy while developing the presentation to make it accessible to the general audience. Also, I used a script while practising my talk to ensure scientific accuracy and precise communication. Over the years, I have found that working with a script helps me better maximise my words and time during talks. In addition, recording and reviewing practice sessions helps me pitch my voice correctly and maintain a conversational tone while presenting.
The event started with the talks followed by lunch and the poster session before ending with the awards reception. I came 3rd place in my category (£100 and a Springer book voucher) and also won the Social Media Award (£25 Amazon voucher). I felt very proud knowing that I was 1 of 15 finalists (across the 3 categories) who were selected from a pool of over 400 applicants.
Overall, the 2019 ABTA DRA was a great experience and it was interesting to learn about different research topics in diverse fields. I am grateful to the organisers and sponsors for the opportunity.
Find out more about the ABTA 2019 DRA here: https://www.abtanet.org.uk/awards/dra2019