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Competitors from the 2016 Three Minute Thesis competition.

Competitors from the 2016 Three Minute Thesis competition.

Jan. 23 deadline for Three Minute Thesis competition

Get ready… Get set… 3MT®!

January 9, 2017 — 

Attention, grad students! Could you explain your work to someone in simple terms, in a way a person with no background in the subject could understand?

Applications are now being accepted for the 2017 edition of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition.

Three Minute Thesis challenges graduate students to consolidate their ideas and research discoveries so they can be presented concisely to a non-specialist audience, in three minutes or less. It’s part of the U of M’s strategy of promoting graduate students and their research, and connecting with the community.

The idea is pretty simple: you have three minutes to explain your research and its importance or relevance, with only a single static image or slide to illustrate what you’re talking about. A panel of judges drawn from the community at large (and often including people with no scientific background), will evaluate your presentation on criteria including confidence, ease in understanding, significance of the research, and quality of the presentation itself.

“Graduate students who compete are challenged to condense their research goals and achievements into a three-minute summary that a general audience can understand and appreciate,” says Todd Mondor, Acting Vice-Provost (Graduate Education) & Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.  “The 3MT competition, then, provides students with an excellent opportunity to share their innovative and ground-breaking research while also testing their communication skills.”

Student competitors are selected by the Faculty of Graduate Studies on the basis of short videos submitted as part of the application process. They are then grouped into sets of challengers who compete in heats before a live audience and preliminary judges. The top three winners from each heat will receive prizes, and the winners of the heats go on to the finals that will be held on March 8, 2017, in the Robert B. Schultz Lecture Theatre at St. John’s College.

Anjali Bhagirath came in second place in the 2016 3MT® competition at the U of M. She enthusiastically encourages grad students to apply for the competition.

“I’m terribly shy as a person,” she says. “I never thought I would go and talk about my research outside the fraternity, let alone give it a platform in a ‘non-research’ environment. The fact that I made it to finals says to me that maybe I can see a ‘story’ in my work.”

“Doing 3MT® is awesome. It will make you see things about your research you might never have visualized,” adds Bhagirath.

An international competition, 3MT® is now in its fifth year at the U of M. The first 3MT® was held at The University of Queensland in 2008 with 160 students competing.

Enthusiasm for the 3MT® concept grew and its adoption by numerous universities led to the development of a Trans-Tasman international competition, starting in 2010, involving 33 universities in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. In 2011, the Trans-Tasman 3MT® competition grew to 43 universities and, for the first time, regional 3MT® events were held in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Hong Kong.

Applications for the 2017 competition are now open, and close on January 23, 2017. Students must submit a 30-second video as part of their application. There is no written application. If students don’t have access to a recording device, they can borrow an iPad from the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Find more information on the rules, eligibility and how to apply on the 3MT website.


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

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