Second annual 3MT competition for graduate students

Tristan Stitt

In UT’s second year of 3MT, Three Minute Thesis, UT graduate students showcased their ability to pitch their research in a concise, clear presentation through competition against one another.

Graduate students from all fields of study had three minutes to deliver an effective presentation of their research findings. Going over three minutes by even one second means disqualification, and the only aid contestants may use is one static slide, which is an image or a collection of images with little text. The champion goes on to the regional competition in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

John Dalton, the director of the competition and assistant dean of Graduate Studies, said he sees this event as an opportunity to enhance the professional skills students will need to garner interest in their work.

“It’s really for students who are doing some fairly specific research to be able to communicate what they’re doing to a larger audience outside of their academic area, and to get them excited about it,” Dalton said.

David Miller, biomedical engineering Ph.D. candidate, made it to the final round this year and was last year’s runner–up. Miller gave a presentation of his research on advancing technology to better care for victims of strokes.

He said his strategy centers around the time constraint.

“I think it’s really common for people to look over and it’s like 30 seconds and think ‘Ugh’ and then just rush through it,” Miller said, “I take the approach of ‘less is more’ and make it about two minutes, which usually ends up running about three.”

In a public speaking competition, language is a crucial element that may concern some contestants with heavy accents. However, this was not the case for Sabina Nduaguba, a Nigerian pharmaceutical sciences graduate student who made it to the final round with her presentation on health equity for black people with HIV.

“Obviously, I know my accent is heavy,” Nduaguba said. “But I feel I am able to convey my message clearly and that it is not an obstacle for me.”

The panel of non–academia judges selected the champion, runner–up and the people’s choice awards. Rahul Kadakia, a chemistry graduate student, won the people’s choice award, chemical engineering graduate student Alon Kirschner was the runner-up and chemistry graduate student Kanchan Aggarwal took the crown. They awarded $500, $750 and $1000, respectively.