Greenland science casting show presents finalists | Polarjournal
The five finalists, Laura Helene Rasmussen, Liz Cooper, Naja Carina Steenholdt (top left to right), Nick Duelund and Ulunnguaq Markussen (lower lefet to right), are studying in Denmark and/or Greenland and are working on various research projects that they will present to a panel of experts and the Greenlandic television audience in a big live show in March. Images: Arctic Hub

Over the past 20 years, casting shows have been broadcast on television around the world in every possible field, from music to modeling to business. In the process, even nowadays well-known personalities, companies or products were discovered and made known to the general public. In the meantime, the casting format has also reached science and the International Arctic Hub developed the competition “Paasisavut” for Greenland, in which young researchers present their projects to the public in an understandable and exciting way. Last week the finalists were presented.

From the fight for nitrogen in the Greenlandic tundra to the urban development of a town in East Greenland and the problems of visual impairment of Greenlandic children to the questions of how to operate sustainable cruise tourism in Greenland and what constitutes a good quality life in Greenland in the first place, the research areas presented by the young finalists cover everything. The four female students Ulunnguaq Markussen (University of Greenland), Naja Carina Steenholdt (Aalborg University), Laura Helene Rasmussen (University of Copenhagen) and Liz Cooper (Copenhagen School of Economics) and student Nick Duelund (University of Greenland) won the selection process against 14 other participants and will present their projects on the live TV show at the final round in March.

The aim of the show is for the finalists to present their projects in an exciting and comprehensible way to both a panel of experts and the television audience in just five minutes. However, the scientific content of the projects must not be watered down too much and the importance for Greenland and its population must also be underlined. And that is definitely a challenge with the different topics. For example, Laura Rasmussen’s topic “Nitrogen in the Greenland Tundra” does have the advantage of scientific relevance, as it also strongly touches on the topics of “permafrost soil” and “climate change.” But to have a chance of winning, it must also present the topic in an exciting and socially relevant way to catch the audience. “You can’t see it, but in the tundra soil under your feet, a vicious battle of life and death is being fought between bacteria, fungi, and plants,” she explains. On the other hand, Liz Cooper’s topic about sustainable cruise tourism in Greenland does have great relevance to society. “Cruise tourism is notorious for its negative environmental impact,” says Liz Copper. “However, it accounts for approximately 50 percent of Greenland’s total tourism.” For a possible win, however, the scientific aspect must also convince the expert jury. In order to be optimally prepared for their performances, the five finalists will be coached by experts in a camp and will receive important and valuable advice for appealing performances.

For the initiators of the casting show, the International Arctic Hub and the University of Greenland, the call was a complete success. “Nineteen excellent PhD students from the Nordic countries have applied for this first edition of the outreach competition in Greenland, and this is more than we had dared to hope for,” explains Anna-Sofie Skjervedal when asked by PolarJournal. “It’s great that so many researchers want to share their knowledge.” The five finalists and their projects represent important aspects of Greenland and its research, and are also relevant to the everyday lives of its approximately 56,000 inhabitants. “At Arctic Hub, we believe that knowledge is most valuable when it is shared and used,” says Anna-Sofie Skjervedal. “Knowledge advances society, and dissemination plays a very important role in bringing knowledge from the research community to society.” The five young researchers will then step into the ring on March 1. On the one hand, the winner will receive a prize of around 3,400 euros. On the other hand, she or he may then call himself or herself “Greenland’s best research communicator”. Considering how important Greenland has become in the scientific world, this title may well be weighty as well. “The number of research projects and activities taking place here in Greenland is vast and the outreach competition Paasisavut is an important initiative in our effort to make knowledge from research more accessible,” the initiators are convinced.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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