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L to R Anam Ara, Sara Crooks, Dr. Kelley Main,Ruwani Wimalasekara, Samual Lawal

L to R: Anam Ara, Sara Crooks, Dr. Kelley Main, Ruwani Wimalasekara, Samual Lawal

2024 3MT research on cannabis smoke exposure on lungs wins top prize

Anam Ara, a master's student in biochemistyr and medical genetics wins first place!

April 11, 2024 — 

In a showcase of academic excellence and eloquence, the Faculty of Graduate Studies proudly announces the winners of its highly anticipated Three Minute Thesis (3MT©) competition. Held annually, this event challenges graduate students to distill their complex research into engaging and accessible presentations lasting just three minutes.

This year’s competition, hosted by Colleen Bready from CTV News, had a diverse array of topics that included graduate students from the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Architecture, Arts, Science, Engineering and the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. All challengers demonstrated remarkable skill in conveying the significance and impact of their research to a non-specialist audience, and a panel of judges.

The judges, Jennifer Chen, Grant Prairie and David Beaudin selected the three standout scholars who emerged victorious. The People’s Choice vote was determined by the live audience that was online at the event.

The Archie McNicol Award for First Place: Anam Ara, master’s student, biochemistry and medical genetics

Anam’s research focuses on uncovering the epigenetic changes induced by prenatal cannabis smoke exposure, leading to childhood asthma. With cannabis’s legality lacking safety regulations, Anam investigates its impact on lung health, an area often overlooked despite extensive research on its neurodevelopmental effects. Driven by a desire to understand cannabis smoke’s effects on the lungs using mice model, Anam aims to have a meaningful impact in the field of epigenetics through rigorous scientific inquiry and a commitment to having a lasting impact on society.

Second Place sponsored by the UM Retirees Association: Sara Crooks, master’s student, biochemistry and medical genetics. Propelled by her desire to help those experiencing cancer, Sara delves into understanding how a novel drug called L-Rham kills chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancer. Graduating with a BSc in biochemistry (Hons., Co-op) from the University of Manitoba in 2023, Sara’s passion for cancer research intensified during a summer placement. Eager to pursue a Ph.D. in proteomics and bioinformatics following her master’s degree, Sara envisions a career as an independent cancer researcher, dedicated to developing personalized treatment options for patients.

Third Place: Ruwani Wimalasekara, PhD student, microbiology. Ruwani’s research aims to understand the mechanisms of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, focusing on elucidating the regulatory genes of the AdeIJK efflux pump in Acinetobacter baumannii. With antibiotic resistance presenting a formidable global threat, Ruwani’s passion for microbiology propels her to explore this critical issue. Holding a master of philosophy degree in biochemistry from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, Ruwani is committed to advancing understanding in this field to combat multidrug resistance and safeguard public health.

People’s Choice: Samuel Lawal, master’s student, medical microbiology and infectious diseases. Samuel’s research is focused on identifying the link between fermentable dietary fibers, microbial fermentation processes, and how the gut microenvironment can mediate changes in microbe functions, in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). He is inspired by the profound impact these conditions have on individuals’ lives. Samuel’s goal is to contribute to the development of personalized gut microbiome as a biomarker in defining a healthy diet for IBD patients. With his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria, Samuel’s long-term research interests involve understanding how microorganisms evade the immune system and the development of innovative therapeutics.

With her win, Anam will now represent UM at the Western Regional 3MT Competition being held at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus on May 8th.

The faculty of graduate studies extends its heartfelt congratulations to all participants who showcased their passion for research and communication in this year’s 3MT competition. Their dedication to advancing knowledge and addressing pressing societal issues serves as an inspiration to the entire academic community. A program of all of the challengers can be found on the 3MT website.

Dr. Kelley Main, dean of the faculty of graduate studies said “The 3MT competition exemplifies the outstanding research and communication skills of our graduate students. We are immensely proud of their accomplishments and their commitment to making meaningful contributions to their respective fields while at the same time being committed to sharing their expertise in an accessible format. Congratulations to all the winners and participants on their well-deserved success.”

As we celebrate the achievements of these exceptional graduate students, we also look forward to witnessing the profound impact of their research on local and global scales. The University of Manitoba remains committed to fostering a culture of innovation and excellence, nurturing the next generation of leaders and change-makers in diverse fields of study.

To watch a recording of the 2024 3MT event, visit the UM YouTube channel.

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