Nutritional Sciences Ph.D. Student Wins Three Minute Thesis Competition

Competition winners

On Nov. 12, 2021, Nutritional Science Ph.D. student Vasavi Shabrish won first place in the final round of The Graduate School’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition at UT. Shabrish’s presentation “Strategies to Improve Health Outcomes in Shift Work” earned her a $1,000 prize and the opportunity to advance to the regional 3MT competition in February.

Computer Science Ph.D. student Prasoon Goyal was runner up for his work “Using Language to Teach New Tasks to Robots” and Shabrish won the People’s Choice Award in addition to first place overall. Goyal will receive $750 as runner-up and Shabrish $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.

When reflecting on her victory, Shabrish explained that she attended all the workshops that UT offered to prepare contestants for this challenge. She also presented her ideas to coworkers, friends and family to gain feedback on potential unclear areas of her topic.

“This challenge was both rewarding and enjoyable for me,” Shabrish said. “Besides helping to disseminate research to the public, the tools I gained throughout my preparation for 3MT provide transferrable skills that will be helpful no matter what career I pursue after completing my Ph.D.”

This year’s panel of judges included Kaiba White, president of Solar Austin and Climate Policy and Outreach Specialist at Public Citizen; Nancy Giordano, CEO and founder of Play Big Inc.; and Matt Stephenson, CEO and co-founder of the Austin-based Code2College nonprofit.

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 February 17-19 in Raleigh, NC.

Watch the 2022 3MT finals below.