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The five challengers from the 2024 MT180 competition

2024 Ma thése en 180 secondes winners announced

March 12, 2024 — 

The Faculty of Graduate Studies is excited to announce the winners in the 5th annual Ma thèses en 180 secondes competition held on March 7th.

The competition, known for its challenging format that requires participants to present their theses in just 180 seconds, showcased the exceptional research and communication talents of 5 UM graduate students:

Christina Frederick – Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. 

Thesis Title: Monkeypox virus (MPXV) surveillance in endemic and non-endemic regions of East Africa at a one health animal-human interface.

Christina’s research objective is to establish a comprehensive monkey pox surveillance program in Africa to facilitate studies on MPXV behavior, prevalence in African countries, and viral transmission from animals to humans. Adopting a One Health perspective, it is crucial to bridge gaps in understanding how environmental changes can impact MPXV transmission and identify the natural wildlife reservoir.

Dario Lorenzoni – Physics and Astronomy

Thesis Title: Mysteries of the very early universe: Inflation, dark matter, and gravitational waves.

Dario’s research focuses on the exploration of the primordial universe and the generation of Dark Matter and Gravitational Waves, two of the most enigmatic phenoma detected today- at incredibly early stages. This is approached through the investigation of cosmic inflation, a period characterized by the rapid expansion of space.

Fazia Ait Zenati – Microbiology

Thesis Title: The role of ARGLU1 in DNA damage repair and cancer cell survival.

Her presentation explained how understanding the molecular contribution of ARGLU1 to cancer cell survival and DNA damage response will fill a critical knowledge gap in understanding its contributions to processes highly relevant to cancer. Fazia’s research focuses on exploring the role of the microbiome in various cancers, with a particular emphasis on breast cancer.

Joanna Candas – Food and Human Nutritional Sciences

Thesis title: Using omega-3 and lutein-enriched eggs as a strategy for diabetic retinopathy

Joanna’s research clinical trial is investigating the role of omega-3 and lutein-enriched egg consumption on eye health and metabolic parameters of individuals with type 2 diabetes. She hopes the research findings will support the development of preventative food strategies for diabetic retinopathy.

Brian Si Nhat Nguyen –Food and Human Nutritional Sciences

Thesis Title: Studies on the polyamines in barley grains

Brian’s research topic explained how polyamines, discovered in barley grains are used to recover nutraceutical production to enrich food products.


first place award winner at MT180First Place – Joanna Candas. Joanna’s dedication to her thesis subject is evident, backed by extensive experience in nutritional research. Her background includes significant involvement in studying individuals with diabetes and collaborating with Indigenous communities.


Second Place – Fazia Ait Zenati Currently pursuing a second PhD in Microbiology (Virology), whose work focuses on the implication of the microbiome in various cancers, especially breast cancer. Fazia will represent the University of Manitoba at theNational final on May 8 in Ottawa.



Third Place: Brian Si Nhat Nguyen, Brian attributes his success in this competition to his mother, who encouraged him to learn to communicate effectively in French.



Thank you to all participants for making their complex research accessible and compelling. The UM looks forward to witnessing the continued impact of their research on the world. “I congratulate all those who participated in MT180 and shared their research in French to the UM community. Everyone did an amazing job in captivating the audience and judges” says Kelley Main Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. “We had excellent candidates for another year, and judges had difficulty selecting the three first places. I am happy to see Fazia Ait Zenati move to the national finale. Féliciatations à tous les cnadiats” says Jean-Eric Ghia, Professor and Director of the micro-diploma in science communication.

Congratulations to Brian, Fazia and Joanna for being selected as this year’s winners. Best of luck to Fazia as she prepares to compete at the MT180 National Final on May 158th in Ottawa Ontario, sponsored by Acfas Manitoba. Details on the National Final can be found at

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