Bake Your PhD

History of Bake Your PhD

Bake Your PhD started at the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences in 2015, as part of our annual Research Student Conference. At our 2017 Student Conference, we invited the ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt to judge our creations and in 2018 the VC returned, this time with a Bake Your PhD creation of his own.

Bake Your PhD challenges students to present their research in a fun and engaging way.  Cakes can depict any aspect of the research; from the physical samples, methods employed in the project, or the research concepts and ideas.

Doing a PhD is often serious business and communicating your research is a crucial skill for any Early Career Researcher. Bake Your PhD allows students to showcase their research and share our School’s enjoyment and love of science (and cake)!

At RSES we love celebrating with cake, and mixing our science with the opportunity to bake cakes was a perfect fit. If your school, college or institution would like to join us in baking their own research, please get in contact with on Twitter  or Instagram and use #BakeYourPhD!

How we run Bake Your PhD

Bake Your PhD is a simple setup, the event is usually held over morning tea or lunch at our Research Student Conference. Cakes are set up along tables with the names of participants and ingredient lists (highlighting any allergy warnings) for each cake.

Judges for Bake Your PhD have been past winners, PhD supervisors, and guest judges from around the university. Each judge is provided with a clipboard and judging forms (criteria below).

The judges start at one end of the cakes and as they move along the participants give a 30 second presentation of the cake to explain how it depicts their research.  Participants are allowed one page containing an image, diagram, or graph to help them explain their cake. The judges then taste the cake and score it based on the following simple criteria:

  1. How well does the cake depict the research?
  2. How creative is the cake and/or cake presentation?
  3. Does the cake creation taste good?

Once the judges have made their decisions, the cakes can be enjoyed by everyone.

Tips for success

  • Think about the overarching concepts and ideas in your research, can you make an analogy of them with cake?
  • We say cake, but we'd also accept other edible baked goods; biscuits, pies, breads etc.
  • Try to incorporate your research into more than just the icing on the cake.
  • While non-edible decorations are allowed, why not try making edible decorations to really impress the judges?!
  • Think about your presentation to the judges. Impress them with a story or maybe incorporate moving parts or a demonstration to your presentation.
  • Remember you don't have to represent all your research in one cake, pick your favourite or most interesting part and have fun with that!

RSES winners


1st Tharika Liyanage
2nd Hannah James
3rd Nita Sebastian


Bethany Ellis and Katherine Holland


Kathleen Harazin

Updated:  17 June 2019/Responsible Officer:  RSES Webmaster/Page Contact:  RSES Webmaster