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Your 30-second pitch!


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Following up on an idea from another recent thread, I am curious to know more about everyone's "30-second" pitch. What is it that you do, condensed down to 2-3 sentences, delivered in ~30 seconds? This would be what you might tell a Dean at a job interview or your friends with non-academic jobs at a party. I'm sure there is a lot of interesting research being done by the members of this board! Mine: 

 

I study how our language faculty is organized, and more specifically how the structure of sentences we say maps onto their meaning. I work under the very general assumption that some characteristics of Language are shared across all languages while some other aspects need to be acquired when we are children, and I am interested in those parts that are shared: What is the underlying system that allows children to acquire their native language so quickly and efficiently, in a way that adults studying a language later in life very rarely do? 

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Great topic!

 

My 30 second pitch is:

I study higher education policies mainly focusing on college affordability and early college programs in high school. I evaluate these types of policies to determine what is the impact of the policy on specific outcomes - usually college attendance and/or college completion and I also look at whether the policies/program are a good use of limited governmental resources.

 

And because I was curious, I timed my pitch - 24 seconds - not bad if I do say so myself ;)

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Great topic!

 

My 30 second pitch is:

I study higher education policies mainly focusing on college affordability and early college programs in high school. I evaluate these types of policies to determine what is the impact of the policy on specific outcomes - usually college attendance and/or college completion and I also look at whether the policies/program are a good use of limited governmental resources.

 

And because I was curious, I timed my pitch - 24 seconds - not bad if I do say so myself ;)

 

Oh lord sweet jeebus 

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I study attitudes towards obesity, particularly among future health professionals, such as students in dietetics programs.  I look at their own experiences with weight management, as well as what they think causes obesity in adults and children, and what they think can be done to treat or prevent obesity in adults and children.  I am also interested in what experiences have shaped their attitudes.

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I'm a trained counselor, teacher & researcher in psychology -specifically severe mental illness (borderline, autism spectrum, and schizophrenia). I'm interested in cognitive neuroscience surrounding moral/ethical decision making, and their effect on treatment plan development, assumptions and biases in mental health treatment. 

Edited by psychkita
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Interesting topic!

 

I am interested in bilingualism and second language acquisition of the Spanish language, particularly for L1 English speakers. I would like to study how errors in speech and writing can inform us about the level of acquisition in post-critical period learners versus critical-period learners or children, and how we can mirror the inherent techniques in children to attain more native-like levels in adult learners, or attempt to combat the effects of fossilization. More specifically, I am interested in the role that working memory plays in L2 learning, particularly related to word mapping, approximate coding, and even code-switching. I would like to study the cognitive processes behind language development in individuals and apply what I know to pedagogical techniques to make language learning relevant and interesting, as well as more effective at the higher-education level. 

 

Since I'll only be starting an MA, my research interests are kind of general at this point, but I fully expect them to evolve and develop further. 

 

(Side note: if I said that out loud, it would definitely be within 30 seconds. I talk like Speed Racer drives.)

Edited by scarvesandcardigans
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I am currently working on multiple (but related) projects and will eventually tie them all together into a dissertation in a couple of years. So, I'm working on and updating multiple "pitches" at the same time.

 

My main pitch summarizes the main theme of my thesis (I also put this in the other thread):

I study planets around other stars called "hot Jupiters". They are big puffy gas giant planets that are similar to Jupiter, but they are very very close to their own star. While it takes Earth one year to go around the Sun, it only takes hot Jupiters a few days!! But we don't know how they got so close. We want to find out if they formed far away and moved closer, or if they formed where we find them today.

 
A secondary "pitch" summarizes the observational method I use. This is a quick explanation I use when people ask me about staying up all night to "look through" the telescope:
We use telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii to look for planets around other star systems. The telescope is really a very sensitive digital camera. But Earth's atmosphere makes this difficult. Because of our atmosphere, stars look like they are twinkling. This is pretty but makes it hard to do scientific measurements. To beat this problem, we put telescopes on a tall mountain (Mauna Kea is at 14,000 ft) and we use a mirror that can change shape to correct for atmospheric distortion.
 
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I like to use www.wordcounter.net when trying to draft these quick pitches. I try to aim for about 80 words in 30 seconds, because any more than that means I'm speaking too fast for people to understand. But I also have a slight lisp that makes it harder for people to understand me at first. The website also has a "Reading Level" estimator (don't know how accurate they are though). In general, I try to aim at the "high school" level. The website says my first one is "9th-10th grade" which I think is not bad, but my second pitch is still rated as "College student". Although this might be because it is more technical in nature. But I am still trying to work on make it more accessible (without dumbing it down or removing the key point, which is the technical challenge).
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My pitch kind of evolves a bit depending on what projects I'm working on at the time, but this is essentially what it is right now:

 

I'm an HIV prevention and treatment researcher. I study how people's mental health is tied with with their drug use, and how that leads to risky sexual behavior and HIV transmission. I also study how mental health and drug use interfere with HIV-positive people's adherence to their medication. My interests are in health disparities, which means I'm really interested in how race and socioeconomic status produce differences in health and why minority races and poor people are more likely to get HIV and have poorer outcomes from it.

 

[Most people do know what socioeconomic status means, but if they don't, I just explain that it's a confluence of factors - income, certainly, but also education and social class.]

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Mostly I spend my time explaining that no, getting a Ph.D in accounting does not mean I get to charge more to clients, it means I'm going into a completely different area and I will be researching accounting.  And, no- I don't do taxes. That is about as far as the conversation goes.  No one cares what an accounting researcher researches except other accounting people.  And everyone thinks they know what an accountant does, so I don't have to explain much.  In fact, I could probably say that I'm a certified public accountant for the next 5 years and bypass the whole conversation.  Does getting your Ph.D count towards CPE?

 

But, if I were to need a pitch. As of now, for what I want to study-

I study how auditor bias affects risk assessment and the decision making process, with particular emphasis on political and cultural bias.  This is an important area of study because it affects the timing and reliability of an audit. For instance, does an auditor of an international company need to understand the culture in order to audit effectively?  And, if a company has a strong political stance, such as Hobby Lobby with birth control, if the auditor disagrees with them, are they more likely to asses higher risk?  If they agree, are they likely to asses lower risk?

 

A lot of big words, but if someone asks, they probably understand big words.  Everyone else is still trying to grasp the fact that I'm researching accounting, not doing it.

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Mostly I spend my time explaining that no, getting a Ph.D in accounting does not mean I get to charge more to clients, it means I'm going into a completely different area and I will be researching accounting.  And, no- I don't do taxes. That is about as far as the conversation goes.  No one cares what an accounting researcher researches except other accounting people.  And everyone thinks they know what an accountant does, so I don't have to explain much.  In fact, I could probably say that I'm a certified public accountant for the next 5 years and bypass the whole conversation.  Does getting your Ph.D count towards CPE?

 

But, if I were to need a pitch. As of now, for what I want to study-

I study how auditor bias affects risk assessment and the decision making process, with particular emphasis on political and cultural bias.  This is an important area of study because it affects the timing and reliability of an audit. For instance, does an auditor of an international company need to understand the culture in order to audit effectively?  And, if a company has a strong political stance, such as Hobby Lobby with birth control, if the auditor disagrees with them, are they more likely to asses higher risk?  If they agree, are they likely to asses lower risk?

 

A lot of big words, but if someone asks, they probably understand big words.  Everyone else is still trying to grasp the fact that I'm researching accounting, not doing it.

Always wondered what a PhD in accounting would research. This makes a lot of sense, thank you![ I was under the impression that you merely focused on developing new/more efficient methods of auditing!]

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Most diseases are related to protein malfunction. Proteins are made up of (usually hundreds) of amino acids. The string of amino acids is able to fold into a specific 3D shape and then the specific shape is what enables function. If one of the amino acids mutates then the protein might not be able to fold into the correct shape which causes malfunction. I develop computational tools to study how proteins fold and how their fold enables their function. I also apply this to specific diseases/health issues to study how we could fix the issues by targeting areas of the proteins with drugs.

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I'm working to open a new field of astronomy that is no longer restricted to electromagnetic radiation.  From the infrared, to the visibile spectrum, and to the ultraviolet, our understanding of the universe came from building instruments to detect various forms of radiation, electromagnetic radiation in this case.  My work is ushering in a new field, known as gravitational wave astronomy.  In short, gravitational waves are produced by accelerating massive objects, which cause rapid distortions in what we call spacetime, and these propagating deformations are what we call gravitational radiation, or gravitational waves.

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Well, I'm finishing up rotations, but know which lab I'm going to join, so I'll base it on what I plan to be doing/what I did during my rotation there.

 

I'm interested in understanding the development of thyroid cancer, specifically what effect thyroid hormone has on it. I hope to identify how thyroid hormones control a specific gene which acts as a tumor promoter. Figuring out how this system works could help explain some unknowns about the deadliest type of thyroid cancer and, with a bit of luck, point us to more effective therapies.

Edited by Vene
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I research German history from the mid-19th century to the end of WWI, focusing especially on overseas colonialism, imperialism, and exploration. Currently, I'm focusing on the ways in which German women experienced and influenced the colonialist project, most recently in the form of travel and settler diaries written in Africa, and my upcoming project will involve studying the intersection between German childbirth and reproductive policies and imperial and colonial goals both within and beyond the Reich. 

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I passed my proposal this semester, so here goes: A thesis in structural geology.

 

The goal of my project is to reconstruct the deformational history of a small region in SW New Zealand related to the growth of the Gondwana paleocontinent (~350 - 120 Ma). Kinematic analysis of superposed brittle and ductile features will tell me how the tectonic setting may have changed through time, with early ductile (think: high temps, flowing) structures showing transpressive deformation, and later brittle (think: low-moderate temps, fracturing) showing arc-parallel deformation. Piecing together this story will tell me what was going on immediately before the breakup of Gondwana. Incorporating absolute age dating of key rock samples will allow us to compare events to others in this part of New Zealand.

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Good thread, helps me practice what to say when individuals ask if I want to be a lawyer or a police officer. I'm sure my pitch will get more refined as I continue farther into research and academia. 

 

Pitch:

 

I conduct research on the spatial distribution of crime events with mapping software to develop and inform crime prevention policy. Specifically, by determining where crime clusters I can analyze those locations for ways that the physical environment can be manipulated to reduce crime currently occurring there and prevent crime that would occur there in the future. The work that I am doing and am interested in doing is a hybrid of crime science with geographic information systems and urban development. 

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While this is about the job search and search committees, I think it highlights the value of having a 30 second pitch: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1007-career-lingo-the-search-committee?

 

In particular, this part:

 

 

Of course the named members of the search committee are the ones you should pay the most attention to, aside from the deciding administrator. Here are some steps you can take to maximize your candidacy with those key players.
  • List your qualifications clearly for nonspecialists and skimmers. Even if the job ad mentions a specific subfield of research and teaching, there is absolutely no guarantee that anyone on the committee will know anything about that subfield. The chair of the committee might be appointed because she is the leading scholar in the world in your area; alternately, she may know nothing about it but it was her turn to chair a search. So in all of your application materials, make sure you explain your qualifications clearly enough for nonexperts to understand.
  • Know that not everyone will read your letter and CV with equal intensity. Some may ponder thoughtfully every line; some may surf the CV’s front page and stop reading after that. Try to be clear for the deep readers as well the glancers about what your strengths are.

 

Yes, it's about cover letters but the same thing applies when you're in person. When you sit down with someone, you want to be able to clearly explain your qualifications, even if they aren't a specialist in what you do.

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While this is about the job search and search committees, I think it highlights the value of having a 30 second pitch: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/1007-career-lingo-the-search-committee?

 

In particular, this part:

 

Yes, it's about cover letters but the same thing applies when you're in person. When you sit down with someone, you want to be able to clearly explain your qualifications, even if they aren't a specialist in what you do.

To add to this, I think it's good to have a pitch for specialists (people who you're likely to cite in your papers), non-specialists with the same degree (people who would work in the same department as you or have the same job title, but don't work on your exact topic), and non-specialists who have minimal familiarity with the field (neighbors, HR, administration).

 

So, for my work, I think I'd want to be able to explain what I do quickly to somebody else working on thyroids, where I can ignore a lot of background information. I'd want to be able to explain it to another biologist, where I could assume that they know cell biology and biochemistry. And I'd want to be able to explain it to the HR rep that is sitting in for an interview, who likely has only the roughest idea of what a thyroid does.

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  • 2 months later...

This is a fascinating thread - thank you for starting it. While I'm only at the start of my journey, my masters thesis could be summarised thusly:

 

I am researching sporting injuries, specifically those related to the knee, and how we can prevent them from happening in the first place, or reducing the rehabilitation time following injury. I'm also interested at decreasing the time recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, to get elite athletes back to a level they can feasibly compete at. To do this, I look at the effects of physical therapy tools and techniques to understand their impacts on lower limb kinetics and kinematics/how we modify our movements to compensate for pain and muscular imbalances. 

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My research interest 30-secnd pitch is :

 

I explore the relationship between different social groups, with a specific emphasis on how members of stigmatized identities (mental illness, LGBT, racial/ethnic minorities, etc) manage stigma against their identity, how to increase identification and adherance to one's group, and  how being a member of a stigmatized group predicts different psychological and physical health risks.

Edited by Mystic_Fog
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