PhD candidate Kulsum Dawoodbhoy wins Breaking Science 2023

Kulsum during her pitch
Kulsum during her pitch

Kulsum Dawoodbhoy (UMC Utrecht) won the annual pitch competition Breaking Science of Utrecht University. On June 1st, the PhD candidate in the Medical Microbiology department at UMC Utrecht, best presented her research to a lay audience.

The eight finalists of Breaking Science were asked to explain their research and passion for science to a lay audience... in just three minutes. 

Theatrical pitch

Kulsum Dawoodbhoy convinced the jury with her theatrical pitch that invoked excruciating pain in the abdomen, because she re-enacted having a urinary tract infection to stress the urgency of finding a new treatment against the most deadly pathogen in the world: E.coli bacteria. Her research focuses on discovering antibodies for a potential antibody therapy that could be an alternative to antibiotics in treating E. coli infections.

Content, clarity and charisma

The past few weeks family, friends and colleagues already got a glimpse of the fascinating world of our researchers. In total 27 scientists participated in Breaking Science 2023 and took the stage during four heats. The jury, which each heat consisted of a science journalist and a researcher, judged the pitches based on three criteria: content, clarity and charisma.

Before the heats, all contestants were trained in how to design a pitch, how to bring this to the stage and how to engage with the audience. 

Certificate worth ¤1.500

At the end of the final, the jury selected Kulsum as the winner. Isabel Arends (dean of the Faculty of Science), Jim Jansen (editor-in-chief New Scientist) and Saskia Stevens (assistant professor at the Faculty of Humanities) presented Kulsum with her certificate. She won ¤1.500 to spend on a conference or summer school of her choice.