Science POP Competition 2024

Towards a second major edition

A Quebec-wide Scientific Communication Initiative 

A Quebec-wide scientific communication competition brought forward by the IRCM, supported by the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) and the NovaScience program of the Ministère de l'Économie, de l'Innovation et de l'Énergie. With the mission of promoting dialogue between science and society, Science POP has also the avowed goal of working to awaken scientific curiosity within Quebec society and to stimulate skills in knowledge transfer.

Science POP Challenges

The Science POP contest offers three distinct challenges. 


Explain a central element of your research project

College, university, internships, graduate studies… maybe even one or two postdoctoral fellowships. Acquiring profound scientific knowledge, developing cutting-edge expertise and mastering the precise jargon used to discuss discoveries with your peers takes years of effort and practice. How fair would it be to expect anyone who hasn’t gone through the same training, whether it be a parent, a friend or a potential sponsor, to fully understand when you explain your research project? Would you be able to use clear, simple, and suitable language?

To take on this challenge, you must first break your research project down into core notions. Then, pick one of those notions and use your educational skills and creativity to translate it into information accessible to a lay audience!



 Speech: Educational

 Type of participation: Solo

 Length: Five (5) minutes

 Visual aid: Unlimited number of slides (primary aid) + one (1) prop on stage (optional)


What do we mean by « notion »?

It could be, for instance: 

  • a biological component or process (apoptosis, neurotransmission, DNA polymerase, endocytosis, pharmacodependence, etc.),
  • a scientific approach (randomized double-blind clinical studies, limit of detection, statistical analysis, etc.),
  • a laboratory technique (electroencephalogram, electronic microscopy, RT-PCR, functional magnetic resonance imagery, CRISPR-Cas, systematic observation, sample collection, etc.),
  • an experimental model (tissue grafts, organoids, immortalized cell lines, genetic knock-out in mice, etc.),
  • a disease (type 1 or 2 diabetes, inflammatory bower disease, AIDS, etc.),
  • a pathology or clinical manifestation (anaphylactic shock, cirrhosis, inflammation, etc.),
  • a therapy or medication (triple combination therapy, RNA vaccines, etc.) or an evaluation or measurement method (diagnostic criteria, cognitive tests, psychometric tests, etc.).

There is an infinite number of possibilities! Take the time to break your project down into core notions and identify one that you believe might be less known or misunderstood by the public.


Reference documents

Summary sheet - Outreach Challenge 

Advice sheet - Outreach Challenge 

Summary Sheet - Presentation rules 

Advice sheet - Delivering a great presentation 

Guidelines and examples of titles and brief descriptions 

Slide templates for presentations 

Science POP logo and graphic guidelines 


Catch the attention of journalists on your research project

To help research work stand out in the public arena, communications departments of research or academic institutions often resort to writing and distributing press releases, which are then sent to different media and eventually form the basis of an article or news report. But the media are overwhelmed with requests: the assignment editor or desk officer will only read it diagonally. You must therefore go straight to the point and catch his attention efficiently. News releases follow a very precise structure and include must-have elements such as a lead, quotes and references.

To take on this challenge, you will thus need to put your communication skills to good use by first writing a proper news release*, that highlights the importance of your research work. Respecting the format and guidelines is a major part of the challenge. 

Then, on the day of the competition, you'll have the equivalent of an elevator ride to catch your audience's attention with a pitch-style presentation, which should start with a catchphrase, pick up on the key points of the news release and end on a powerful conclusion.



 Text : News release (step 1)

 Speech : Pitch-style presentation (step 2)

 Type of participation : Solo

 Length : Two (2) minutes

 Visual aid : One (1) static slide** or one (1) prop on stage

*Guidelines are provided in a separate summary sheet
**Devoid of any video, animation, or sound


Which aspects of a project should a news release highlight?

It could be, for instance:

  • the societal needs or healthcare issues it addresses;
  • the knowledge it brings;
  • its innovative features;
  • its capacity to promote the development of partnerships or intersectorial collaboration;
  • its expected outcomes or short- and/or long-term benefits.


Reference documents

Summary sheet - Media Challenge 

Advice Sheet - Media Challenge 

How to write an effective news release (FR) 

Press release example - Dos and Don'ts (FR)   

Summary sheet - Presentation rules 

Advice sheet - Delivering a great presentation 

Guidelines and examples of titles and brief descriptions 

Slide templates for presentations 

Science POP logo and graphic guidelines 


Declare your personal commitment to sustainable health

The depiction of a mad scientist, muttering hypotheses to himself and working as a recluse in his lab, is an outdated stereotype. To make sure science helps society move forward, scientists are now more engaged than ever on the field, working side by side with the government, industry or the general public.

To take on this challenge, you'll first have to undertake some introspection about your role, as a scientist and member of the Quebec society, in promoting sustainable health. Then, you will need to showcase your vision by presenting a personal initiative you propose to develop in the near future, or that you implemented less than a year ago (at the time of your participation in an in-house competition.



 Speech: Inspirational, TEDx-style conference

 Type of participation : Solo or teams of two (2)

 Length: Seven (7) minutes

 Visual aid: Unlimited number of minimalistic* slides (primary aid) + one (1) prop on stage (optional)

*With simple content (an image, one or two words, etc.)


What do we mean by « initiative »?

It could be, for instance:

  • creating or broadcasting educational material (blog, YouTube channel, website, journal or magazine article, TV or radio show, podcast, social media content, etc.),
  • developing a community support program (companions for patients, sports or artistic outlet to promote mental health, etc.),
  • organizing or managing an event (awareness campaign, fundraiser, conference, school activity, etc.)
  • or collaborating with political leaders, healthcare professionals or stakeholders (working group to improve public health practices, regulations or norms, participatory research, precision medicine, etc.).

This initiative doesn't have to be linked to your research work! Follow your sense of entrepreneurship or leadership! The only rule: you must be one of the main instigators of the initiative. To evaluate its potential impact on sustainable health, ask yourself the following questions: Will it help establish healthy lifestyle habits in the population, bring science and society closer together towards a common goal, or mobilize political decision-makers and stakeholders involved in sustainable health? How does it tie in with the targets of the United Nations' 3rd Sustainable Development Goal?


Reference documents

Summary sheet - Sustainable Health Challenge 

Advice sheet - Sustainable Health Challenge (FR) 

Summary sheet - Presentation rules 

Advice sheet - Delivering a great presentation 

Guidelines and examples of titles and brief descriptions 

Slide templates for presentations 

Science POP logo and graphic guidelines 

Step 1 : Internal competitions

Following the official launch in february 2024, Science POP will develop across the province of Quebec in the form of internal competitions, held between May 1st and October 1st, 2024 by institutions devoted to Health Sciences research and to training graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.


Find them out

Step 2 : The Grand Final

The Science POP Grand Final will take place on November 21 and 22, 2024 at the IRCM, in Montréal.

Finalists will have to attend the competition in person before a diverse audience. The presentations will, however, be broadcast live and online to facilitate remote access to the event. Award winners of the Science POP competition will be honoured during the closing ceremony of the provincial final. A public announcement of the overall winners will be published during the following week by the Governance Committee.



How to

This year, thanks to the contribution of a number of new institutions, we're delighted to see that the competition is spreading across the province, particularly in the Eastern Townships. Here's the list of educational and research institutions taking part in the Science POP 2024 competition. To find out more about the internal competitions and how to enter or attend them, click here :

Organizing an in-house Science POP competition
Participating institutions must hold their in-house competitions between May 1st and October 1st, 2024, and are free to include one, two or all three of the Science POP challenges described in the 'Challenges' section. Participating institutions must be self-reliable in obtaining the financial resources required to hold their in-house Science POP competition and award prizes to their winners. The Science POP Governance Committee will support them throughout the organization steps, namely by providing a variety of tools. These will be made available to participating institutions by April 1st 2024, and will include:

  • Graphic tools: Official Science POP logo, e-mail banners, website banners, visuals for social media, promotional poster templates, slide templates for the candidate’s challenge presentations, award certificate template, confirmation of participation template, etc. 
  • Logistical tools: Pre-built Fourwaves website (optional for each participating institution; $400 fee for a basic version, $800 fee for a full version), challenge registration form template, challenge candidate commitment form, competition organization checklist, etc.
  • Reference documents: Challenge summary sheets, presentation rules summary sheet, standardized and challenge-specific evaluation grids, etc.

For an overview of the steps involved in organizing an in-house competition, please consult this event planning checklist (French only).

Reaching the provincial final 
Once the in-house competition has been held, the list of all candidates who took part in it, specifying those who won first-place in each challenge must be forwarded to the Governance Committee before October 4, 2024, at The contact person at each participating institution will receive an e-mail listing the information to be provided. Participating institutions are responsible for handling and paying for the travel and accommodation arrangements of their winners to attend the provincial final. The provincial final will be held on November 21 and 22, 2024 at the IRCM, located in the heart of Montreal. Finalists are expected to participate in person, in front of a diverse audience and jury members. However, the presentations will be broadcast live online, so that anyone can attend, regardless of their location. The winners of the Science POP contest will be crowned at the closing ceremony of the provincial final. Contact persons of each participating institution, or another representative, are expected to attend the provincial final, most particularly the award ceremony. The winners will be announced to the general public in the following week, by the Governance Committee.

Registering as a challenge candidate
Anyone interested in taking on a Science POP challenge must first consult the eligibility criteria (see the 'Competition' section below) and then check the list of participating institutions, which will be published during the week of February 26, 2024, to see if their establishment will be organizing an in-house competition as part of the Science POP 2024 edition. Details of how to register (dates, information to provide such as profile picture, title and brief description of presentation, etc.) for the corresponding in-house competition will be sent to the student communities by the contact person of each participating institution.

Preparing for an in-house competition
Starting on April 1st, 2024, reference documents and training tools will be made available to all challenge candidates, in order to develop their communication skills and help them adjust their presentation to the expectations of their challenge. The Governance Committee will be holding facultative, monthly Q&A sessions on Zoom, starting in April, to answer candidates' questions about the expectations and particularities of each challenge (details coming soon).

Preparing for the provincial final
During the months of October and November 2024, finalists from each participating institution will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with one of the various communications experts, according to their needs in preparing for the provincial final (details available in the summer of 2024).

Admission criteria 

Participating Institutions
Organizations eligible to become participating institutions and hold an in-house competition are: 

  • Universities across the province of Quebec that offer graduate programs in Health Sciences;
  • Research centers and research institutes affiliated with a Quebec university and dedicated to training students in Health Sciences.

Please note that it is not possible to hold more than one in-house competition within the same university or institution (e.g. different departments, programs, campuses, etc.). 

Challenge candidates 
Individuals eligible to take on a Science POP challenge are:  

  • Full-time students enrolled in a Master’s or Doctoral program at a Quebec university and carrying out research activities related to Health Sciences;  
  • Postdoctoral fellows pursuing research activities related to Health Sciences at a Quebec university, research center or research institute;
  • Graduate students from another Canadian province or abroad doing a research internship at a Quebec university, research center or research institute.

Challenge candidates must meet these eligibility criteria from the moment of their registration to the date of the in-house competition in which they are competing. Any subsequent change in their status (graduation, direct passage, end of postdoctoral training, etc.) will not affect their eligibility to access the provincial final. However, the Governance Committee must be notified at

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE WINNERS OF THE CHIEF SCIENTIST PRIZE (1st place of a challenge) AND THE JACQUES-GENEST PRIZE (2nd place of a challenge) OF THE 2023 SCIENCE POP PROVINCIAL FINAL ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THE 2024 EDITION. They are nevertheless encouraged to participate, albeit out-of-competition. Winners of a People’s Choice Award can still sign up as candidates.


Obligations of each participating institution

Graphics chart
All promotional and/or audiovisual material used for Science POP (posters, banners, logos, fonts, etc.) must be prepared using the tools provided by the Governance Committee (available in the week of February 26). If an additional tool is required, we invite the contact person of each participating institution to send a request at All posts on social networks must contain the keyword #sciencepop. 

The IRCM and FRQS recommend that participating institutions organize competitions that respect the values of equity, diversity and inclusion, and that encourage people from minority groups to take on a challenge. As far as language is concerned, the use of French is encouraged; however, it is possible to hold a competition and/or participate in English, provided that a translation service is offered to the audience. The provincial final will be hosted in French, with live translation in the form of on-screen subtitles. 

Public engagement
The primary mission of Science POP is to promote the dialogue between scientists and their surrounding society. As such, participating institutions are strongly encouraged to involve the general public in all aspects of their competition, whether as audience members, volunteers or judges.

Embargo for in-house competition finalists 
Broadcasting an audiovisual recording or the slides of a winning presentation on a publicly available platform (e.g. websites, social networks, newsletter, etc.) prior to the public announcement of the provincial final winners by the FRQS and IRCM will result in the disqualification of the candidates in question. An e-mail will be sent to contact persons and finalists when the embargo is lifted.


Obligations of each candidate

Single participation
Candidates wishing to participate in the Science POP contest may not register to more than one in-house competition among those organized by the various participating institutions and must choose one challenge for which they wish to be eligible to win a prize and gain access to the provincial final. To take on additional challenges, candidates must do so in an out-of-competition manner and identify in advance, at the moment of their registration, which presentation should be considered as in-competition. 

Presence at the provincial final
From the moment of their registration, challenge candidates must commit to being available to participate in person at the provincial final, scheduled for November 21 and 22, 2024, should they rank 1st place in a challenge at their participating institution's in-house competition. Should an unexpected situation prevent them from participating in person, the candidate who ranked 2nd will take their place at the final. This decision will be irreversible.

Challenge candidates must consent to see their name, photo, presentation details and any audiovisual recordings in which they feature used for promotional purposes by the Governance Committee and/or its partners at FRQS and IRCM. This could be in the form of web pages, communications (e-mails, newsletters, news, newspaper articles, posts on social media, etc.), multimedia productions (videoclips, films, DVDs, etc.), or artistic montages (posters, exhibitions, etc.).

Challenge candidates must respect the embargo described in the section above (Obligations of participating institutions > Embargo for in-house competition finalists).

Challenge-specific guidelines
Regardless of their selected challenge, all candidates must provide a title and a brief description of their presentation, at the moment of their registration to participate in an in-house competition. Instructions will be provided by the Governance Committee. However, each challenge has different requirements in terms of presentation length, format and permissions. Candidates should make sure they are well-informed of these details, by consulting the reference documents that will be posted online during the week of February 26, 2024 or provided to them by the contact person of their participating institution. For any questions or clarifications, the Governance Committee recommends that candidates reach out to the contact person of their participating institution or send an email to

Presentation visual aids
To take on a challenge, candidates must prepare a presentation in the form of a speech (no songs, poems, mimes, etc.), without soundtracks or pre-recorded narration. Visual aids (slides and/or a stage prop, as dictated for each challenge) are not mandatory, but strongly recommended. Candidates must be the authors of the images, drawings, animations and videos used. Otherwise, it is imperative that they verify the material’s copyrights and licences and have authorization to use it, and to provide a full reference. PROVINCIAL FINAL: Any prop used on stage must be a personal object, easy to carry and not extravagant; it may only stay on stage for the duration of the presentation. All slides used as visual aids must be 1) prepared using the templates provided by the Governance Committee, 2) in 16:9 format on screen, and 3) presented using the Microsoft PowerPoint software (no conversion to PDF or other file types). No presenter's notes or memory aids will be allowed, whether on the screen, in the speaker’ hands or on the podium.

At the end of the Science POP provincial final, judges will hand over their evaluation grids to the Governance Committee, which will determine the 1st and 2nd place grand winners for each challenge. Audience members will also have the opportunity to assign a score to each presentation of the three challenges. The candidate with the highest score in each challenge will receive the People's Choice Award.

One of the main objectives of the Science POP competition is to contribute to the training of the next generation of scientists. Thus, the Governance Committee wishes to provide the 1st and 2nd place finalists of each challenge with the opportunity of an immersive experience in the field of scientific communication. To this end, as a complement to the Chief Scientist Award and the Jacques-Genest Award, 1st and 2nd place winners will be presented with a portfolio of short internship opportunities in relevant professional environments, to choose the one that best fits their career aspirations. The list of potential internships will be released in the summer 2024.

First-place winners - Chief Scientist Award

1 000 $
+ Choice of science communication internship
+ Glass trophy
+ Certificate

Second-place winners - Jacques-Genest Award

500 $
+ Choice of internship in scientific communication
+ Glass trophy
+ Certificate

Lauréat(e)s du Vote du Public

250 $
+ Glass trophy
+ Certificate

Award terms 

  • Prizes listed above will be awarded for each of the three challenges (for a total of nine prizes).
  • There can be no ex aequo winners for the Chief Scientist Award and the Jacques-Genest Award. A special feature of the Sustainable Health Challenge, however, is that it allows candidates to participate in teams of two. If a team is awarded first or second place, the monetary value of the prize will be divided in equal parts. Each team member will be independently offered a choice of internship (to be chosen from a pre-established list). 
  • In the event of a tie for a People's Choice Award, the monetary value of the prize will be divided in equal parts.


Important dates
to remember

Whether as an institution or as a challenge candidate, stay tuned for the competition milestones until the 2024 Provincial Final.

As of April 1, 2024
Challenge training tools available online.

May 1 to September 4, 2024
Q&A meetings with candidates: Wednesdays May 1, June 5, August 14 and September 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

May 1 to October 1, 2024
Holding of in-house competitions by participating institutions.
October 4, 2024
Deadline for participating institutions to send their list of winners to the Governance Committee.
November 21 and 22, 2024
Holding of the Provincial Final organized by the IRCM and announcement of the grand winners of the 2024 Science POP edition.

Joining the
Science POP Initiative, means...




For students
in Health Sciences:

… to develop scientific communication skills

… to engage with your community

For the general public:

… to acquire on biomedical research

… to learn more about the benefits and impact of scientific research

For the Quebec Society:

… to counter misinformation

… to contribute to developing a strong scientific literacy

For partners :

… be a player in the promotion and influence of cutting-edge research in life sciences carried out in Quebec

… become an ally in the development of Quebec's excellent next generation of scientists

… contribute to the sharing of scientific knowledge with the general public

Discover our past partners here!

To find out more and receive our visibility plan (in french), contact us,

« Science POP was a great way to challenge myself in the art of science communication in my research. The prospect of getting the internship reward was a great source of motivation for me. The best part of the day was connecting with other passionate science communicators.»

Madhura Lotlikar
2nd place in the Popularization Challenge (Science POP 2023)

The IRCM's

With Science POP, the IRCM is offering a scientific popularization event aimed at bringing together around science Quebec's main biomedical research players in, their next generation of scientists and the general public, in a spirit of healthy competition, exchanges and of learning. In keeping with the long tradition of collaboration between the IRCM and other research institutions in Quebec, this competition’s impact is intended to be provincial and collective. Above all, Science POP is thus a unique opportunity to create a healthy bridge between the scientific community and the population, by promoting the excellent work carried out in all the research institutions of the province and making it accessible to all.
The IRCM understands that this exercise only makes sense if it respects the fundamental principles that govern scientific thinking and give it its strength: observation, rigour and collegiality. Consequently, the IRCM is committed to take all necessary and commonly accepted measures to conduct Science POP with respect, transparency, fairness and impartiality.
Good luck to all!    



Anna Lieby
Project Coordinator – Communications and events, IRCM
Christine Matte 
Coordinator – Academic Affairs, IRCM
Michel Cayouette 
Vice president – Research and Academic Affairs, IRCM
Florence Meney
Director – Communications and Public Affairs, IRCM
Sébastien Sabbagh 
Director – Academic Affairs, IRCM
Jennifer Estall 
Associate Vice President – Scientific Life, IRCM
Valérie Morquette
Senior Advisor – Communications and Public Affairs, IRCM
Michaël Bernier 
Program Manager, FRQS
Manon Pelletier 
Director, Development of projects and partnerships, FRQ
Rebecca Cesseddu 
Representant – Students' Association, IRCM


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(514) 755-2516


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