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PhD candidate Sara Ullström knows how to pitch her research in 4 min – These are her tips!

Sara Ullström. Photo
Sara Ullström says that she learnt a lot by watching the other participants’ presentations and listening to the feedback they got from the jury as well. “Stand still while you are talking, move when you are not talking”, I will remember that.

LUCSUS PhD candidate Sara Ullström competed in the national popular science competition, Forskar Grand Prix. We took the opportunity to talk to her about the experience and the importance of communicating your research to an audience outside of the scientific community.

Forskar Grand Prix is the biggest national competition in presentation technique where researcher present their research in a comprehensible, inspiring, and interesting way in only 4 minutes. The winner is appointed by the audience and three judges.

At the partial competition in Helsingborg, where researchers from Lund University competed for a place at the national finals, Sara Ullström presented her research within the research project The Takeoff of Staying on the Ground which studies the emerging social movement to reduce flying in Sweden and the changing cultural and social norms that it represents.

- It is very important for me to reach out with my research to the general public. It makes it more meaningful, as I want to make an impact with my research.

The audience were senior high school students from Helsingborg, which Sara found both fun and challenging.

- It is about creating curiosity, to show what it is like to be a researcher, and hopefully inspire them. But it can be quite challenging since you have to use a different language than when talking about your research to other researchers, for instance at conferences or in lectures.  

Nonetheless, she thinks it is important that researchers learn how to communicate their research in a popular science way, to make it more comprehensible for people outside academia.

Forskar Grand Prix. Jury shows the scores for Sara Ullström. Photo.
Sara received high scores from the jury.

Even though Sara didn’t make it to the finals in Stockholm, she still enjoyed the experience and was happy with the feedback from the jury.

- It has been fun, and I’ve learnt a lot, both in terms of presentation technique and how to reach a general public with a message. During this process we have been coached by communication experts and been given feedback from the group and from the jury, so it has been very educational and rewarding.

Sara’s tips on 3 questions to ask yourself when presenting your research:

  1. Who is the target group/the audience?
  2. What is your main message?
  3. What do you want the audience to take away from the presentation?


Read more about Sara Ullström’s research on LUCSUS website:

Forskar Grand Prix

Forskar Grand Prix is Swedens biggest competition in presentation technique. The premise of the competition is to make a captivating, comprehensible and inspiring research presentation in only 4 minutes.

Local competitions are held around the country and the winners will meet in the finals in Stockholm. During the process the researchers receives coaching in presentation technique regarding stage presence, comprehensibility, and the scientific content of the presentation. These are also the criteria that the jury base their votes on.

The idea of the competition is to provide researchers with skills in research communication, and to give the audience an insight into different research areas in an entertaining and inspiring way.

This year’s winner from Lund University was Michael Bossetta. He will represent Lund University in the finals of Forskar Grand Prix which will be held in Stockholm on the 25th of November.

About the researcher Sara Ullström

Sara Ullström. Foto: Ann Åkermark.

Sara Ullström is a doctoral student at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS). She holds a bachelor degree in political science and a master’s degree in applied climate change strategies, both from Lund University. Her research focuses on the role of narratives and individual lifestyle changes in sustainability transitions.

Read more about Sara Ullström's research.