Grad students face off at Concordia’s 10th annual Three Minute Thesis Competition

Grad students face off at Concordia’s 10th annual Three Minute Thesis Competition


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Thirteen Concordia graduate students competed in the university’s 10th annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition on April 23. Five of the finalists were awarded monetary prizes for their notable presentations.

The competition challenges graduate students to clearly communicate their research to a non-specialist audience in under three minutes. Participants must distill their academic jargon into compelling, easy-to-understand stories without diluting or omitting any major points, and can use only one static PowerPoint slide as a visual aid.

The inaugural edition of the 3MT competition was held at the University of Queensland in Australia in 2008. Since then, over 900 universities in 85 countries have participated.

Doctoral candidate Marie Lecuyer will represent Concordia at the French-language version of the competition, Ma thèse en 180 secondes (MT180), hosted by Acfas in May. Her research focuses on how those involved in the funeral industry, as well as architects and designers, can remedy the saturation of cemeteries in a context of heavy urbanization, particularly in Hong Kong.

“Preparing for this competition allowed me to understand my project from the perspective of other researchers from various backgrounds,” Lecuyer says.

In addition to Lecuyer, six master’s students and six PhD students presented their research at Concordia’s 3MT competition this year. They were selected as finalists out of the 64 students who received advice from GradProSkills coaches leading up to the event.

‘English is not my first language, but I still won the competition!’

The judges evaluated the contestants based on criteria such as comprehension, content, engagement and communication. Mudabir Abdullah earned first place in the doctoral section of the competition. As a student in the Department of Biology, Abdullah is conducting research that involves swapping human pathways and processes and humanizing the proteasome core in baker’s yeast to study the evolution of diseases.

“Participation in the 3MT competition helped my presentation skills immensely and allowed me to overcome my public speaking anxiety,” Abdullah says. “English is not my first language, but still I won the competition!”

The doctoral section’s People’s Choice Award went to Jessica Murphy, who was also recognized as Abdullah’s runner-up. Her research investigates how the age of obesity onset influences the way fat biology responds to a lifestyle weight-loss protocol.

“Throughout the 3MT process, my script underwent a major overhaul thanks to the very constructive feedback from the coaches and my fellow competitors,” Murphy says. “Translating research to a general audience isn’t easy, but the 3MT coaching sessions help you shift your mindset to make it happen.”



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