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3MT finalist studies food microstructure to create nutritious – and delicious – products

March 30, 2022 — 

Biosystems Engineering PhD student Chitra Sivakumar shared her research into food processing at the University of Manitoba Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition finals on April 7. The event broadcast can be viewed on YouTube (jump to the 23:50 mark for Chitra’s presentation).

3MT is an international graduate student research communication competition developed in 2008 by The University of Queensland (UQ) where challengers have just three minutes to present their research and its importance in plain language, using only a single slide to illustrate their topic. The competitors are judged on comprehension, engagement, ease of communication while providing an understanding of the background and significance of their research.

The UM 2022 3MT event began in early March with 33 challengers from 17 different departments who each explained their complex research to the judges and a virtual audience in just three minutes.

At the final, students – both master’s and doctoral students – compete for the Dr. Archie McNicol Prize for First Place ($2,500), the UM Retirees Prize for Second Place ($1,250), and Third Place ($750). The online audience will vote for the People’s Choice award (UM Bookstore gift certificate). The first place winner will advance to the in-person Western Canada regional competition on May 6, 2022, hosted by the University of Winnipeg.

Chitra SivakumarChitra Sivakumar
PhD student in Biosystems Engineering
“Non destructive analysis of pulse flours”

What is your presentation about?

My presentation is about studying the microstructural properties of pulse flours to produce tailored food products such as breads, cookies, and pasta with increased nutritional content and textural properties like crispiness, crunchiness, and mouthfeel.

Why did you want to do 3MT?

I was inspired from my friends Sristi Mundhada and Vimala Bharati who were last year finalists and winners. It’s a challenging task to make someone understand who has very less knowledge in your area of expertise. And I like challenges!

 What has your 3MT experience been like so far?

It’s a very interesting journey. Summarizing two to four years of technical research in three minutes in a layman’s language is a challenging task. During script preparation, I realized it’s very difficult to explain thesis in a simple way, as my mind was caught up with technical terms. 3MT gave me a break to look at the importance of my research in simple and basic words.

 What are your future plans?

I want to continue serving the people in the best possible way I can.

 Final thoughts?

Please don’t waste food. Quite a lot of people, from farmers to food processors, are working hard so that you can have a peaceful meal.

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