University of Regina PhD student wins national award with a short tweet and video

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: February 19, 2020 5:00 a.m.

Photo of PhD candidate Nicole Lerminiaux’s #IAmInnovation Twitter entry.
Photo of PhD candidate Nicole Lerminiaux’s #IAmInnovation Twitter entry. Photo: Tweet by Nicole Lerminiaux

Try explaining complex research in no more than 280 characters with a video that’s less than 140 seconds. 

University of Regina biology PhD candidate Nicole Lerminiaux knows how – and it earned her a win in the #IAmInnovation Twitter contest held by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

The prize allows Lerminiaux, along with two other winners from other Canadian universities, a free trip to Ottawa to attend a science communications workshop and to be CFI’s guests at a special event in Ottawa, where they will have an opportunity to discuss their research with MPs, Senators and senior government officials. 

“I'm grateful to CFI for this opportunity to further develop my science communication skills,” says Lerminiaux. “I'm excited to attend their science communication workshop in Ottawa, to meet other students and hear about their research, and to talk to policy makers. I’m also looking forward to learning new strategies to make research more accessible, because sharing my research with stakeholders and the general public – who fund this work – in a way that’s easy to understand is a crucial part of doing science.” 

The #IAmInnovation contest was used to showcase the work of young researchers across Canada, and to highlight how their work in CFI-funded labs is helping them and their research. To enter, student and post-doc researchers nationwide were asked to tweet an image or video demonstrating their work in state-of-the-art facilities and with cutting-edge equipment funded by the CFI. 

“This contest gives young researchers an opportunity to show Canadians how important the right tools and spaces are for their research,” says Roseann O’Reilly Runte, president and chief executive officer of the CFI. “From tracking infectious diseases and improving ocean conservation to understanding brain injury in victims of domestic violence, this next generation of leaders in science is committed to making a difference.”

Lerminiaux’s research, and her winning CFI tweet and video, focuses on discovering how our natural environment influences antibiotic resistance in bacteria. And while her research delves into complex microbiological systems, her ability to clearly explain her research helped her to win. 

“The opportunity to visit Ottawa for a communication workshop is perfect for Nicole, who brings clarity and inspiration to scientific communication and has been recognized previously for excellence in scientific communication through a NSERC Science Action! competition win,” says Dr. Andrew Cameron, associate professor of biology, co-director of the University of Regina’s Institute for Microbial Systems and Society, and Lerminiaux’s faculty advisor. 

Cameron adds that the “CFI infrastructure supports Nicole to excel as an innovator. Through DNA sequencing and analysis, Nicole has pushed the scientific envelope in diverse microbiological systems, from microbial ecology to pathogen evolution to tracking how antibiotic resistance spreads and evolves in natural landscapes.” 

To see Lerminiaux’s tweet – and the other contestants’ entries – search #IAmInnovation on Twitter.