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Dr. Mario Pinto, Vice-President (Research & International) presents the first place trophy to Keshav Narayan Alagarsamy.

3MT winner is full of heart

Presentation on personalized heart cells nets $2,500 prize

April 3, 2023 — 

Keshav Narayan Alagarsamy, a PhD candidate in the department of physiology and pathophysiology at Max Rady College of Medicine, won first place at UM’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) final on March 30.

He was chosen from a group of 12 finalists in a competition that challenges graduate students to summarize their thesis in just three minutes. The goal is to effectively communicate complex research to a non-specialized audience in an engaging manner.

Passionate about the ability of machines and materials to heal humans, Alagarsamy is combining stem cell technology with nanotechnology to create personalised heart cells that can regenerate a damaged heart after a heart attack.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of my 3MT experience was the exhilarating challenge of delivering a flawless presentation despite experiencing nerves on multiple occasions,” explains Alagarsamy.

“This journey played a significant role in building my self-confidence and enhancing my understanding of my project. I am immensely grateful to my advisor, Dr. Sanjiv Dhingra, for his unwavering support and encouragement throughout my project. I also extend my heartfelt thanks to my labmates, colleagues at the St. Boniface Research Center, friends, and family for their assistance in overcoming my fears and instilling the confidence I needed to excel in the 3MT challenge.”

Alagarsamy received $2,500 for his first place win, which was watched by over 700 people in person and online.


The event was hosted by CTV’s Colleen Bready in front of a panel of esteemed UM alumni: Anita Wortzman, President, The Asper Foundation; Destiny Seymour, Founder, Indigo Arrows; and James Schellenberg, Founder & CEO, Cubresa Inc.

“Every year I am impressed by the passion and poise that our graduate students bring to this amazing event,” said Dr. Kelley Main, Acting Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies. “This event is such an important highlight of the work our graduate students do at UM.”

Three other graduate students also received prizes in the 3MT final:

Department: Physiology and pathophysiology
Advisor: Dr. Pawan K. Singal

UM Retirees Association presents Akshi Malik with her second place trophy.

With one in four cancer patients developing heart failure due to chemotherapy drugs, Malik is working to eliminate this trade-off in cancer treatment. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms through which Doxorubicin, a chemotherapy drug, affects the hearts of cancer patients, as well as looking for a cardioprotective agent that can prevent Doxorubicin-induced heart failure.

“I will forever cherish the moment when I was on stage and did my best. The happy high I felt after the talk was incomparable to any presentation I have given before. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I hope to graduate soon and work in the field of scientific outreach and communication. There is a lot of impactful research being done that the general public is not aware of and I would like to make science more accessible through my presentation skills and enthusiasm for science.”

Watch Akshi Malik’s 3MT presentation.

THIRD PLACE: Shayna Giesbrecht
Department: Microbiology
Advisor: Dr. Michael Becker

Dr. Diane Hiebert-Murphy, Provost and Vice-President (Academic) presents Shayna Giesbrecht with her third place trophy.

Giesbrecht’s research seeks to establish methods to use wastewater for tracking the incidence of sexually transmitted blood-borne infections, which will contribute meaningful information to infection outbreak prevention and response in the future. She was inspired by Manitoba leaders during the pandemic who put the health of Manitobans’ first and is driven to continue working in disease prevention at the government level helping smaller communities respond to infectious disease outbreaks.

“One of my favourite things about 3MT that is not necessarily available in other research settings is getting to learn about advanced research and its impacts in really accessible language. 3MT is so audience friendly that my grandparents were able to watch online! I feel so honoured to have been chosen as the third place winner for this year. This year’s competition was incredibly strong, so to be chosen as a winner is a massive privilege.”

Watch Shayna Giesbrecht’s 3MT presentation.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE: Olubukola Olatosi
Department: Oral biology
Advisor: Dr. Robert Schroth

Dr. Kelley Main, Acting Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies presents Olubukola Olatosi with the People’s Choice award.

With a greater focus on promoting early childhood oral health, Olatosi’s research goal is to see a reduction in the incidence of early childhood caries among Indigenous Canadian children. Her research focuses on determining the strategies to implementing the novel Canadian Caries Risk Assessment Tool and to provide guidelines for implementation to improve the oral health of Indigenous children.

“The 3MT competition was a great experience for me, it was very competitive and I enjoyed the support from the community. This program helped me to sharpen my communication skills. It gave me a platform to disseminate my research focus. I wish to congratulate everyone who took part in this competition. I enjoyed the great support we gave each other. It was fun!”

Watch Olubukola Olatosi’s 3MT presentation.

As the first place winner, Alagarsamy will go on to represent the University of Manitoba at the Western Regional 3MT Competition at the University of Saskatchewan on May 25, 2023.

Watch the live event recording of the 3MT final on YouTube.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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