On Nov. 11, 2022, Chemistry Ph.D. student Atreya Dey won first place in the final round of The Graduate School’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition at UT. Dey’s presentation “The Theory of a Hundred Thousand Grandmas” earned him a $1,000 prize and the opportunity to advance to the regional 3MT competition in March.
Human Development, Culture, and Learning Sciences Ph.D. student Ana Guadalupe Vielma was runner up for her work “There’s Beauty in the Struggle: Uplifting First-Gen College Students” and Pharmaceutical Sciences Ph.D. student Vineet Kulkarni won the People’s Choice Award for his presentation “Ultraportable 3D Printing Platform for Fabricating Patient Centric Medication.” Vielma received $750 as runner-up and Kulkarni $500 for the People’s Choice. All of the prizes were generously underwritten by the Graduate Coordinator Network.
3MT was developed by the University of Queensland to celebrate the exciting research conducted by graduate students across the world. The international competition helps students cultivate the skills to communicate advanced academic research concepts to non-specialist audiences. Contestants are faced with the challenge of distilling many years of research into a brief three-minute presentation that may be accompanied by only a single static slide.
Participants used approachable language and easily understandable concepts to explain their research in three minutes or less to a panel of judges. They were then assessed based on the comprehension, content, engagement and communication of their presentation. This is the first time the 3MT Competition has been held in person at UT since 2019.
Dey is a theoretical biophysicist, but he is comfortable in front of an audience too. He acted in theatrical productions in his home country of India, and this public speaking experience gave him a big advantage in the 3MT Competition. He also spent two weeks writing his script, finding analogies to make his ideas easy to understand and practicing overcoming potential distractions in the mirror.
“Sometimes I would have very loud music like Metallica playing to distract me,” Dey said. “I found that really helped to prepare for situations where I could get distracted by the audience.” Dey found the 3MT competition rewarding in a variety of ways. “Getting involved in the event exposed me to a network of scicomm practitioners. I think it also really boosted my confidence in talking about my research to a non-technical audience. Overall I really appreciated taking part in the event.”
This year’s panel of judges included Dr. Archie Holmes, Jr., Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for The University of Texas System; Sally Allen, Senior Director of Foundation Relations for Texas Development; and Nick Hundley, Director of Communications for the UT Austin Graduate School.
The upcoming regional 3MT contest will include graduate students from universities across the south, from Texas to Maryland, at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools competition on March 2-4 in Tampa, FL.