November 2019 − Lab Lifestyle
My heart is hammering in my chest, my mouth feels dry. My brain keeps repeating Eminem lyrics: “His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy, There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti.” Well good thing there was no spaghetti on my menu today. Those lyrics have never been more relatable to me. I try to breathe slowly as panic rises in me and I wonder if anyone would notice if I just ran out. I get mad at myself for signing up to this. Why in the world did I decide I want to get up on a stage in a club to talk about my research?
“Next up: Dr. Ann-Charlott from the University of Cologne”. I guess people would notice if I ran now, so instead I get up, I walk towards the steps that lead up to the small stage.
I smile nervously, I grab the microphone and look out into the spotlight. I cannot see the faces hidden in the dark, but I know they are expecting me to be funny, to entertain them and to teach them something about my research. I open my mouth “So my research is about the cornea, more specifically why blood vessels are terrible for the cornea”, I say way too fast into the microphone. But my breathing calms as I continue speaking. I make my first joke, people grin and laugh, I start to relax. Half of my talk is already done, I feel more comfortable on stage now and almost forget that there are hundreds of people looking at me who have paid money for this.
“… and now you know why blood vessels are bad for the cornea and next time you are on a train maybe think of me!” I finish my science slam. Applause – I smile awkwardly, give a half-bow and quickly flee the stage. I sit back down next to the other science slammers. Still with shaking hands, I smile, this time relieved. “Why was I so nervous? This is an excuse to talk about my research, what can be better than this?” And already I am planning to sign up for a science slam again. And then I will be right back where I started.
Ann-Charlott Salabarria, recent PhD graduate from Cologne University (Germany), now immunology postdoctoral scientist in San Diego (USA), lover of books and the beach, passionate about science and talking about science and Faith.