It has been over three years now since I won the national 3MT® competition hosted by Vitae. Since then, we’ve been through a pandemic, multiple changes in government, and we even have a new king! So.. why I’m still going on about this 3MT® competition? How is it still relevant?

I clearly remember the evening I won the award. Everyone was lovely, we all had some wine, and quite a few people came up to me to tell me how this will have a huge impact on my career. I was, of course, sceptical. Many people before me have won, and many will after. As far as I was concerned, I was just another name on their ever growing list (hello imposter syndrome!). Sure I got some exciting opportunities straight after (which you can read all about in this blog), but amazingly enough my journey didn’t end there.

On November 16 2021 I released a short film on YouTube entitled “Meeting my Role Models: An Insight into Imposter Syndrome” which I wrote, directed, as well as produced using my 3MT® winnings (i.e. a £3,000 grant from UKRI). This was a huge challenge not just due to pandemic induced restrictions, but just the sheer fact that other than filming a video on my phone I had never dabbled into film production! I received incredible feedback, and my film was even shortlisted at the “Bristol Science Film Festival” competition which was judged by people like Malcom Love, a former journalist and senior producer at the BBC. I alluded to an exciting opportunity with the Global Young Academy and NaWik in my blog post mentioned above which finally came to fruition in 2022 and resulted in 12 videos I presented on science communication and ethics in science. That resulted in some more international collaborations like a grant I wrote with academics at Princeton University, University of Copenhagen, and University of Pittsburgh. Speaking of grants, I wrote one for “Ingenious” (by Royal Academy of Engineering) as a Co-I in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University which was successfully funded and is well underway!

As I am writing this, I am gearing up to attend one the royal garden parties at Buckingham palace – the King’s first one in fact – again all thanks to the 3MT® (and the Vice Chancellor nominating me as a result of it). Clearly everyone was right. The 3MT® has in fact had a huge impact on my career and I now have no doubt it will continue to do so. To think it all started with a hesitant and naïve 2nd year PhD student full of self-doubt is humbling. If you’re debating whether you’re ‘good enough’ to apply for the 3MT® , take this as a sign from me to do it. I know what it is like to be crippled with imposter syndrome ( my film!) and I can truly say that applying for the 3MT® was one of the best decisions of my life and I strongly encourage you to go for it!

Shruti Mandhani, ESPRC Research Fellow and PhD Researcher, Sheffield Hallam University