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MiNDS, Science, Action!  

AUTHOR: Justin Balsor

This year, NSERC hosted their second annual edition of the Science, Action! video contest. This sensational competition places a novel twist on research presentation. Instead of turning in a proposal to a committee or presenting a poster at a conference, contestants were asked to create a one minute video detailing the NSERC funded research carried out at their respective institutions.


For Simon Beshara of our very own MiNDS program, this opportunity seemed too good to be true. Armed with a script and a video camera, Simon donned his lab coat and put together a truly remarkable video summary of his research. In the video we get just a small taste of what goes on behind the closed doors of the Visual Neuroscience Laboratory on Simon’s PhD quest for the “holy grail of neuroscience”.


Perhaps the most exciting part about this video competition is the judging process. Winning videos must surpass two tiers of judging criteria. In the first round, videos undergo a round of public voting, wherein all submissions are posted to the NSERC YouTube channel. There, the total number of views, along with the total number of shares on Facebook and Twitter, are combined to determine 15 finalists. Simon’s video qualified for the first round no problem, having the highest number of YouTube views by far at the time the competition closed. In the second round the 15 finalists were judged based on a set of three criteria: their ability to compel their audience, their ability to convey the impact of their research and their ability to explain said research. In this round Simon’s video earned him a respectable 6th place in the competition.


In this age of social media, competitions like this remind us of certain aspects of our research that are important to keep in mind. As neuroscientists, we must meet the three criteria of the video competition every day. First, we must find what excites us about our research and transmit that excitement when we tell others about what we do. Second, and perhaps most importantly, is to effectively convey why we do the research that excites us. Finally, we have to make sure we do a good job explaining our work. I feel that the one-minute time limit of these videos serves as a testament to our decreasing attention spans. To present our research as Simon did in this video competition should be a goal each of us can aspire to if we hope to capture attention and make a difference.


Check out Simon’s, and all the videos entered in this year’s Science, Action! video contest, on the NSERC YouTube channel, here.