The popular science event Researchers’ Night culminated in the Science Slam contest. The contest had a simple plot: five researchers got on stage with a microphone and the one who provoked the best laughs from the audience took home the winner's golden microphone.
In the high-level competition, the audience awarded Professor of Health Sociology Piia Jallinoja from the University of Tampere. The title of her talk was “What are we talking about when we talk about vegetarian days?”.
“It always feels great after such an intense effort,” Jallinoja said soon after winning.
The other contestants and their topics were professor of media culture Mikko Lehtonen from UTA (Accountants measuring culture), Senior Lecturer Leila Kakko from TAMK (Do you know what you breathe?), Doctoral Researcher Julia Pietilä from TUT (I know how you will sleep tonight) and Research Director Jarmo Viteli, from UTA (Lie, fabrication or self-assessment?).
Science Slam gathered a sizeable audience at Tullikamari Klubi.
The winner received valuable tips for the performance from her husband who works in television.
“He gave me ideas and practice about how to start and finish my talk. Keeping it short and precise were key things,” Jallinoja said.
Jallinoja’s speech concentrated on Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö’s views about eating vegetarian food in military service, which created a sensation last summer. As good performers do, Jallinoja also sought new and surprising angles for her 10-minute presentation.
“I had not much analysed the controversy for this presentation. However, I have followed up on the debate in my role as a researcher of the vegetarian boom. Appearing in public makes you think about new and current things to present to the audience,” Jallinoja said.
In her public performances, Jallinoja always adjusts her speech according to the audience.
“Reading from the same old notes will not do. I talk to a wide range of audiences from doctors to turkey farmers. It makes me think about the right way to present something so that anyone can understand the message,” Jallinoja explains her method.
Jallinoja also raised the current situation where scientific research and the facts it offers are frequently called into question in public debate around the world.
“If scientific research is presented in a positive light in an accessible form, it is always a positive thing. There is usually not much talk about science is pubs,” Jallinoja points out.
The stand-up event was organised at the legendary Tullikamari Klubi. Friends of comedy and science filled the tables well in advance of the start of the competition.
Like last year, the event was hosted by Research Manager Jari Kolehmainen from the Faculty of Management at the University of Tampere. A winner of the competition in 2013, Kolehmainen performed on stage with the confidence gained from past experience. He was received by a laughing audience between the performances and presented the performers with the accompaniment of appropriate superlatives.
The Researchers' Night was simultaneously organised in about 300 cities across Europe. The event, which lasted all Friday, attracted almost 4,000 visitors in Tampere.
The Researchers’ Night events are supported by the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Union. In Tampere, the event was organised in cooperation by the University of Tampere and Tampere University of Technology which, together with the Tampere University of Applied Sciences, will form a new multidisciplinary university community that will start operating at the beginning of 2019.
Text: Jaakko Kinnunen
Photograph: Jonne Renvall