Announcing the winners of The FEBS Journal Creative Competition 2021 ‘My PhD in a Nutshell’

The FEBS Journal is pleased to announce the three winners of the Creative Competition 2021 'My PhD in a Nutshell'. You can see the prize-winning entries below!
Announcing the winners of The FEBS Journal Creative Competition 2021 ‘My PhD in a Nutshell’

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We recently invited our community to submit text, artwork or any other form of media highlighting their research project in a creative and engaging way. We welcomed entries relevant to any of the topics that fall under the broad scope of The FEBS Journal and we were delighted to receive fantastic entries from our participants – many thanks and congratulations to all of you who contributed to the competition!

Huge congratulations to the winners!

The three winners are:

  1. Arathi Nair (Maharashtra, India), awarded our first prize for her comic entitled ‘Untangling Ras’. Arathi Nair is a self-taught artist and researcher and her association with Dr Bhaskar Saha’s laboratory at the National Centre for Cell Science, India, began with her master's dissertation. She started her research on the role of small cellular Ras GTPases in parasitic infection. Her doctoral research focused on the functional specificity of Ras GTPase isoforms H, K, and N-Ras. She believes that art and science are inseparable, and that art can be used to make science understandable and appealing even to people from non-scientific backgrounds. Her inspiration behind creating this graphic novel was the idea of a platform where art and science intermingle seamlessly. In her hand-illustrated graphic novel ‘Untangling Ras’, she has attempted to liken her research model to classic Renaissance artworks of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. 'The Creation of Adam’ by Michelangelo depicts the chronology of the creation of life. In her first model ‘Chronology Revisited’ she has equated the activation of Ras isoforms by Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors (GEFs) and subsequent activation of Ras effectors to 'The Creation of Adam', where the hand of the Creator is depicted touching the hand of mankind.  The ‘Vitruvian Man’ by Da Vinci, which symbolises divine symmetry, is used to illustrate the second model of ‘Divine Asymmetry’ wherein a third dimension that is analogous to the spatiotemporal distribution of Ras in different subcellular locations is added to the sketch of the 'Vitruvian man'. Currently, Arathi is working on expanding this graphic novel and is also illustrating diverse concepts in cell biology. You can find her winning entry here:


  1. Jaida Begum (Bristol, UK), awarded our second prize for her comic entitled ‘My PhD in a Nutshell’. Jaida is currently undertaking a PhD in computational biochemistry at the University of Bristol under the supervision of Dr Marc van der Kamp. Her research focuses on the growing issue of antimicrobial resistance. The effectiveness of β-lactam antibiotics has been hampered primarily by β-lactamase enzymes. One strategy to tackle this resistance is to use β-lactamase inhibitors such as diazobicyclooctanes (DBOs) together with β-lactam antibiotics to treat infections. Interestingly, newer DBOs also inhibit penicillin binding proteins (PBPs) which are the target of β-lactams. Jaida is investigating these differences using atomistic simulations and kinetic experiments to predict inhibitor activity and will also be working on the design of new and efficient β-lactamase inhibitors. Jaida has always enjoyed graphic design so once she noticed the announcement of The FEBS Journal Creative Competition ‘My PhD in a Nutshell’, she felt that she had to submit her entry! She considers this competition a great opportunity for early-career scientists to creatively promote their research. View her winning entry here:


  1. Carlos Alvarez Quispe (Ghent, Belgium), awarded our third prize for his poster entitled ‘Epimerase Hunting’. Ever since his biology studies in Peru, Carlos has always been intrigued and passionate about the enzyme world and the infinite possibilities of reactions they can catalyse, as well as their diverse applications. With this in mind, he embarked on the adventure of pursuing a master's degree in Biological Engineering at INSA (Toulouse, France). Still curious about how enzymes can be fine-tuned for industrial applications, he decided to enrol in the PhD programme on Enzyme Engineering at the Centre of Synthetic Biology at Ghent University. Currently, his project consists in unravelling structure-function relationships in nucleotide-sugar epimerases for rare sugar production. When he came across The FEBS Journal Creative Competition "My PhD in a nutshell" advertised on Twitter, Carlos was reading "For the Love of Enzymes" by Nobel laureate Arthur Kornberg. Through this amazing book, the author introduced Carlos to the era of enzyme hunting. Additionally, Carlos was impressed to realise that The FEBS Journal had a nice "enzyme meme" as an issue cover (Enzyme Promiscuity and Evolution, volume 287, number 7). These two unique examples of science communication formed the inspiration for the ‘Epimerase Hunting’ poster. Carlos would like to acknowledge the help from the artists in his family and those who inspire his research everyday: his sister Ruth and his brother Jhonatan, who are also part of this hunting! His winning entry can be found here:

We were impressed with the exceptional quality of the entries received. Once again, thanks to all of you who contributed to the competition and congratulations to our winners!



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