Last week, the University held its seventh final of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition. Due to COVID restrictions, the final was held online. Nine student finalists battled it out to be this year’s winner and earn a place in the UK 3MT® Semi Final orgainised by Vitae.

3MT® celebrates the exciting research conducted by doctoral students around the world. Developed by The University of Queensland, the competition cultivates academic, presentation, and research communication skills by challenging students to present their entire thesis - usually around 80,000 words - in just three minutes. Students are allowed to use one Powerpoint slide and no other resources.

This year’s finalists were:

  • Fatma Korkmaz, Education
  • Mike Richardson, Psychology (SWDTP)
  • Sarra Boukhari, Education
  • Bas Lodewijks, Mathematical Sciences
  • Kathryn Watt, Biology and Biochemistry (CSCT)
  • Hasnain Lalji, Pharmacy and Pharmacology
  • Sandra McHugh, Chemistry (CSCT)
  • Kate Precious, Politics, Languages and International Studies (SWDTP)
  • Jon Noble, Chemistry (CSCT)

Finalists presented topics ranging from being a bilingual dyslexic, through to 'seeing' with the tongue!

The judging panel, Professor Jeremy Bradshaw (Pro-Vice Chancellor, International & Doctoral), Professor Cathryn Mitchell (Academic Director of the Doctoral College), Dr Trevor Day, Kate Robinson and Rob Cooper scored students based on comprehension, content and audience engagement before retiring to deliberate and make their selection.

Mike Richardson won first place, impressing the judges with his presentation ‘Seeing with the tongue’. Mike earns a commemorative plate and a place in the 3MT® UK semi-final which will be held in July. Mike said:

The experience was awesome, such a nice way to take a step back and think about what makes our research appealing to the public, which is why most of our research takes place anyway! I particularly liked getting feedback from a variety of people during the process, which helped to tailor the presentation to suit a wider audience.

Bas Lodewijks was awarded second place with his presentation 'Six degrees of COVID: Improving models for complex networks'. Bas said:

Taking part in the 3MT competition has been a challenging but very engaging opportunity. It was great to learn how to best communicate complex ideas to a wide audience, and hearing about all the other great research being conducted at the University by PhD students was wonderful, too.

In third place was Sandra McHugh with her presentation 'How can we make pharmaceutical drugs more efficient in the body?' Sandra said:

The 3MT was a very fun and enjoyable experience, it encouraged me to take a step back and assess why I am doing this research and how my project fits into the bigger picture. It was also great to hear all the other contestants' entries and have their projects pitched at a level I could grasp and understand easily.

Professor Jeremy Bradshaw said:

The annual 3-minute thesis competition is one of the highlights of my year. The quality of the presentations, and the research they describe, never fails to impress me. Well done to all the competitors, congratulations to the winner, and many, many thanks to all those who support our doctoral students to make such an event possible.

We would like to thank everyone who took part in 3MT® 2021. See you in 2022!