Three Minute Thesis – A Chance to Present Your Research and Compete for Cash Prizes!
Three Minute Thesis (3MT), an academic competition that began at the University of Queensland, is being held at Kent State University for the fifth year. The contest is an opportunity for graduate students to crystalize and consolidate their complex research into a captivating three-minute presentation for a chance to win cash prizes. Prizes will be awarded to the top three contestants as well as one ‘People’s Choice’ award based on a vote from the audience for the best presentation.
First place: $500
Second place: $300
Third place: $200
People’s Choice: $200
About 20 to 25 students will be able to compete in each preliminary round – held at 12 p.m. on Thursday, October 17 and Friday, October 18. The top presenters from each preliminary round will then move on to the Finals, which will be held on Friday, October 25.
“When I applied for a job, my interviewers had already seen my 3MT YouTube video and learned more about who I am.” – Mona Matar, Applied Mathematics
Want to hear more about Three Minute Thesis firsthand? We’ve asked some of our past winners to expand on their experiences. Adam Kulp, a doctoral student in biomedical sciences, placed first in 2018’s Three Minute Thesis; Mona Matar, a doctoral student in applied mathematics, placed first in 2017 and Patrick Ulrich, a master student in theatre studies, placed second that same year.
What did you choose to present at Three Minute Thesis?
“My research was about finding important nodes and connections in a network. The network can represent social connections such as Facebook, transportations such as flights between airports, biological such as protein interactions, and so on. Since the 3MT audience is so diverse as far as disciplines and academic levels, I picked for my presentation an example that anyone can relate to: a group of people spreading a rumor.” – Mona Matar, Applied Mathematics
“My presentation was a brief overview of the molecular mechanism behind fearful memories.
In short, when someone is facing a stressful or fearful scenario, there is (in general) an enhancement of the memory. One molecule that could contribute to this behavior is the stress hormone corticosterone (cortisol in humans; CORT). CORT can enhance contextual fear memory. We removed CORT from the rat and found the rats did not fully remember the fearful memory.” – Adam Kulp, Biomedical Sciences
“My presentation was titled “Set in Motion.” I spoke about the process that theatrical designers go through to tell the story of the play or musical they are designing. I focused on my experience in designing the scenery for the Broadway musical, Little Women, that was produced at Kent State.” – Patrick Ulrich, Theatre Studies
What did you find to be the most beneficial aspect of 3MT?
“The 3MT simulated the classic "elevator talk" where you have a short time period to educate your possible employer. Now that I am applying for jobs, I am finding it a necessary skill to describe your very complex research into very basic terms that anyone should be able to understand. I found that the 3MT helped me consolidate my research to the point employers unfamiliar with science can understand.” – Adam Kulp, Biomedical Sciences
“I gained confidence in my knowledge and chosen field of study. It was refreshing to see the genuine interest in my art from so many different people across campus. Too often artists feel sub-par to scientists, mathematicians or engineers and 3MT allowed me to see that we are all integral parts of society as a whole.” – Patrick Ulrich, Theatre Studies
“I learned how to explain my research to people who are not in my field, specifically to people who think that math is "boring." It is very easy to keep going and going when someone asks about your research since you invested so much time doing it, and you have strong opinions about what works and what does not work, then you start explaining how you approach is beneficial to your discipline society, and soon enough, they regret asking about your work.” – Mona Mata, Applied Mathematics
Do you have any advice or recommendations for students considering competing?
“All of the work we are doing as graduate students matters, so don’t be afraid to share your passion with the campus community. It is natural for you to get nervous when you have to present something in front of a large crowd, especially in a competitive setting. All of the Three Minute Thesis participants were so supportive of one another and we celebrated in one another’s work and success.” – Patrick Ulrich, Theatre Studies
“Know your audience! If the audience has limited knowledge in your field, do not talk to them the same way you would talk to your advisor. Give a good reason why people should care about your research. Provide economic or practical reasoning to the audience. Only use one to two jargon words in your entire talk.” – Adam Kulp, Biomedical Sciences
“Do it! You have nothing to lose. It is fun, exciting and challenging!” – Mona Matar, Applied Mathematics
“I felt connected to the university in a way I hadn't before experienced. As a graduate student, I spent all of my days with a limited group of people in limited spaces of the same building. This competition gave me the opportunity to spend time with graduate students from across campus and create lasting connections and friendships.” – Patrick Ulrich, Theatre Studies
The deadline to register for Three Minute Thesis is Wednesday, October 9 at 11:59 p.m. so be sure to sign up as soon as possible! When registering for the competition, you will need to provide a title and your availability for the preliminary rounds.
You can review rules for the competition here.