Explain your thesis subject to a non-specialist audience in three minutes tops: this is the challenge faced every year by the contestants of the international contest "Ma thèse en 180 secondes" (My thesis in 180 seconds) , which final was held in Bordeaux.
This is a difficult challenge. Contestants must muster cunning and cleverness to sum up in simple words the result of several years of research. The most difficult part is to speak to both a wide audience and a diverse jury representing both the scientific community and the economic sector or the media. The cleverest use a conceit while others stage their presentation. Only one slide is allowed. The challenge is hard, but the fun is always there.
This year, over 560 PhD students participated in the contest throughout France. A first selection step was implemented at regional level in about 20 higher education groups. About 30 contestants went in semi-final during this step. The final was held on the 31st of May in the Palais de la Bourse in Bordeaux. Sixteen contestants were competing.
Among them, foreign PhD students were given a central place. Three of them were among the finalists. Italian Vittoria Novelli represented the University of Picardie Jules Verne. Her thesis was about photosynthesis and its use to generate power. Its title is: "The development of chromophore and its challenges for the conversion of near infrared in colouring photovoltaic cells".
Younes Faydi, of Morroccan origins, represented the Cluny campus of the École nationale supérieure d’arts et métiers (ENSAM). His research work, entitled "Dynamic sorting of hardwood sawing" aim at defining the resistance of hardwood planks after sawing. To achieve his goal, the PhD student has developed a template that should allow to determine which planks are high or low quality for each tree to cut.
Spanish Sol Sánchez-Dehesa Galán ran for Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. As a prehistorian, she is studying as part of her PhD the tools designed by Homo erectus in order to understand their gradual adaptation to their environment. His thesis subject is: "Comment on the industries from the Acheulean chronology. The Garba I (Melka Kunture) case."
The success of the three young researchers reminds of the international opening of PhD programmes available in France. According to the French Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Research, out of the 67,000 students currently studying in a PhD course in France, over 40% have a foreign nationality.
The laureates of the French final, Mathieu Buonafine, Bertrand Cochard and Nicolas Urruty, who are studying respectively their PhD in the Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (INSERM), the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis and the University of Poitiers, will participate in the international final of "My thesis in 180 seconds" on the 29th of September. The last round will occur in Rabat, the capital city of Morrocco.
Photos © MT 180