STEM Next TechFest, Mimi Asogwa

I was thrilled when I was selected to be interviewed for the students’ essay competition as part of this year’s TechFest STEM activity. Firstly, I was going to be interviewed on an interesting essay topic ‘’Covid-19 success rates, disparity amongst countries and how to rectify issues globally’’. Secondly, it offered me a great opportunity to share my knowledge and experience as a Microbiologist.

I accepted the offer to be interviewed online and immediately commenced with preparing PowerPoint slides for the day, which I thought was ideal to explain some concepts. Although I am quite knowledgeable on this topic, I did further background study to understand the current state of disparities in vaccination rates and practical solutions to help solve this.

I have been involved in giving talks and presenting experimental data to a wide range of audience (school students, general public, Microbiologists, other scientists etc) in my current role and also during my time as a PhD student. This presentation however was great in that it gave me one-on one opportunity to share: what sparked my interest in microbiology, my career experience, and explain some microbiology concepts relating to the essay. Giving a presentation to any audience may seem daunting but over the years I find three things particularly useful: practice, practice, practice, practice several times and possibly record yourself, this will give you feedback on how you are doing. Secondly, as the saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, I usually add in lots of images/pictures and videos as this makes things a lot clearer and easier to understand. Finally, I try to tailor the content of my presentation to suit my audience e. g. lots more pictures/real life examples and less microbiology terms when presenting to high school students or public as compared to when presenting to specialist audience.

Overall, the session went well: student got a better understanding of the topic, essay written and submitted within the required time frame, and I received good feedback from the student. I thoroughly enjoyed preparing for the session by reading current scientific journals related to the topic and making slides suitable to the student level. The best part of the session for me was describing in detail some of what Microbiologists did during the Covid-19 pandemic; this was a real eye -opener, gave the student a lot of insight into various roles of Microbiologists and possible opportunities in the future.