PhD candidate Kulsum Dawoodbhoy wins Breaking Science 2023

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. 

Kulsum is on stage. With her hands, she makes a gesture to make a point.
Kulsum during her pitch

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.

A man in the audience holds up a small sign that says: Great show! Captivating.
After the pitches, the audience was also able to give feedback to the contestants

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. 

Kulsum Dawoodbhoy, the winner of Breaking Science 2023, proudly receives flowers and a certificate from the jury.
With flowers and a certificate, the jury announces that Kulsum has won.

Certificate worth €1.500

At the end of the final, the jury selected Kulsum as the winner. Prof. dr. 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.

A group photo of the finalists. They are all holding a certificate and smiling broadly.
A group photo of the finalists

Photos by Thijs Rooimans