A young Indian researcher, whose presentation integrated a popular Khasi folk tale with scientific findings to explain the occurrence of a particular parasitic worm in northeast India, has won the top honour in the EURAXESS Science Slam India contest for teaching current science to a diverse audience in an entertaining way.

Science Slam is a science communication format where young scientists explain their research projects in short 10-minute talks to a non-expert audience.

Damanbha Lyngdoh, a doctoral candidate at North Eastern Hill University-NEHU, Shillong, Meghalaya, impressed judges with his science slam titled “Do not judge a book by its cover – A tale from India’s North-East”.

“Damanbha Lyngdoh has won the first prize in India this year in the fourth edition of the Science Slam India. He will be visiting Brussels (headquarters of the European Union) and a research institute of his choice in the EU,” the organisers said in a statement.

The Science Slam offers a platform for young research talent to showcase their work outside of the formal constraints of a research lab or classroom.

The finalists are judged on the basis of their ability to capture the audience’s attention with a precise, accessible and original introduction to their research topic.

“I presented my slam in story-telling manner along with live performance of playing the Khasi Big Drum or ‘Ka Bom’ (in Khasi language). The folk tale is adapted to suit the scientific information, and through the folk tale, the scientific knowledge about the diversity of this parasite is elaborated.

“In addition, the slam highlighted the usefulness of these small and minute parasitic worms (often viewed for their negative aspects), in stabilising the environment and maintaining a balance in mother nature, thereby becoming heroes,” Lyngdoh said.

Already in its fourth installment, the annual science communication competition of the EU-funded EURAXESS Links network has taken place this autumn in Brazil, China and India.

Winners can also try to get one Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellowship or a European Research Council (ERC) grant, both actions funded by the European Union Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020, the organisers said.

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