Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Student Wins Three Minute Thesis Competition

3MT competition winners and judges

On Feb. 8, 2019, the Graduate School held the finals of its Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition on the UT campus, with chemical engineering Ph.D. student Kevin Reed winning first prize for his presentation, “Brewing Better Antibiotics Using Yeast.”

Fellow chemical engineering Ph.D. student Michael Lucas was runner-up for “Influence of Exogenous Materials on Amyloid-Beta Nucleation” and civil engineering Ph.D. student Venktesh Pandey won the People’s Choice Award for “Dynamic Pricing and Long-term Planning Models for Multiple Entrances and Exits.”

3MT is an international competition that helps graduate students cultivate the skills to communicate academic and research concepts to general audiences. Participating students use approachable language and concepts to explain their research in three minutes or less to a panel of judges.

Reed receives $1,000 and will represent the university at the regional 3MT competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools in Knoxville, Tenn. in February. Lucas will receive $750 and Pandey $500. The prizes were generously underwritten by the Graduate Coordinator Network.

“We were overwhelmed by the quality and enthusiasm of competitors during this year’s competition,” said John Dalton, assistant dean of the Graduate School. “Graduate Students at the university are conducting research with tremendous potential—by participating in 3MT, these competitors will be better prepared to demonstrate the impact and importance of their work and field to different audiences.” 

In total, 24 students participated in the competition, which was organized in two heats. Ultimately, 10 individuals advanced and competed in the final.

The judges for this year's final included leading Austin communication professionals David Green, media relations manager for the City of Austin; Judy Maggio, editorial director for news and public affairs at KLRU-PBS; and Gary Susswein, chief communications officer at UT Austin.

Competitors are judged on the content of the presentation—both verbal content and PowerPoint slides—and how well they conveyed concepts and engaged with the audience.

“The judges had a difficult time selecting one winner,” Dalton said. “However, Kevin displayed excellent skill in articulating the importance of his research developing antibiotics to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The subject matter was clearly conveyed, and he left the audience curious to learn more.”

Watch the 2019 3MT finals: