For this episode, Dennis talked to Dmitry Kopelyanskiy, a contest-winning science communicator who gives entertaining science talks on stage – mostly about his own research on tropical diseases. But here, Dmitry also talks about his academic career odyssey (from Russia to Switzerland via Israel and Germany), his path to science communication, and his involvement in “Skills for Scientists” – a career development program at the University of Lausanne.
Over the past two years, Dmitry Kopelyanskiy has been quite successful at science communication contests. At FameLab he made it all the way to the international finals in the UK! But he also did rather well at a number of Science Slam events. Last year he had been involved with Pint of Science in Lausanne as an organizer, and he has become a moderator at FameLab. In the contests, the candidates must explain their science in a clear AND entertaining way. This is – as he says – a skill every scientist should have in order to defend their science; be it as a publishing academic, as a graduating Ph.D. student, or as a scientist who finds himself in a heated discussion with an antivax cab driver – as he once did. And if you can make it fun and interesting, even better!
But being a successful speaker did not come to Dmitry naturally. He remembers his first presentation as a Master’s student in Germany to be horrible! He mumbled while he was reading directly from his slides; his back turned to the class. When he finally turned around, he found the whole class holding their foreheads with their hands. His professor described the presentation as “not the worst” he had ever heard; which Dmitry thinks meant that it – indeed – had been the worst.
Fortunately, he overcame his disheartenment and decided to go out of his comfort zone. Dmitry joined the Toastmaster clubs where people from different backgrounds practice public speaking and learn about storytelling and leadership. He continued working on his presentation skills, and he is still taking every opportunity to go on a stage and demonstrate his growth.
To Dmitry, training your skills is one of the most important aspects of developing your career. Thinking about his own career outside academia after graduation, Dmitry wants to combine his best skill (public speaking) with his passion: science.