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The 3MT Final Competition is March 8 from 7-9 p.m. Vasudeva Bhat, immunology doctoral student, is one of the 12 graduate students who will be presenting their research at the event.

The 3MT Final Competition is March 8 from 7-9 p.m. Vasudeva Bhat, immunology doctoral student, is one of the 12 graduate students who will be presenting their research at the event.

Challengers of knowledge – 3MT® final on March 8

March 8, 2017 — 

Have you ever asked a graduate student what his or her research is about? Did you get a simple answer that you could understand? Or did you walk away, not even knowing some of the words your had just heard?

Grad students often do research that is very technical. They can likely explain it to advisors or colleagues, but when they get together with family or friends over dinner, can they actually explain what their work is about?

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition is designed to test graduate students on exactly that. It’s important they be able to communicate their knowledge to the general public so that the science is understandable.

Twelve finalists have made it through the 3MT® heats that took place on Feb. 13, 14 and 16, 2017. They move on to compete in the Final Competition on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Robert B. Schultz Lecture Theatre in St. John’s College on the Fort Garry Campus.

The public and the University of Manitoba community are invited to cheer on our innovative graduate students as they compete for the Dr. Archie McNicol Prize for First Place ($2,000), Second Place ($500), Third Place ($250) and People’s Choice awards. Each competitor will have three minutes, using only a single slide as an illustration, to clearly explain the nature, goals and significance of his or her research.

The challengers competing in the final are:

Allison Balasko

Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (Master’s)
Advisor: Dr. Keith Fowke
“Where’s the Wifi?”: How HIV infection disrupts immune system communication

Besides being passionate about pursuing HIV research, Balasko is a five time Academic All-Canadian and an alumna of Bison Women’s Basketball and Track and Field. She is also a mentor with the U of M Peer Mentorship Program. Her goal is to become a clinician scientist and help patients combat infectious diseases.

Vasudeva Bhat

Immunology (Doctoral)
Advisor: Dr. Afshin Raouf
Catch it early: A “game-changer” for breast cancer
Bhat proclaims: “Science drives me!” His passion for research stems from his curiosity in understanding cancer as a disease. He wants to help make people’s lives better through the application of scientific knowledge, continuing research in cancer therapeutic development.

Kevin Boreskie

Kinesiology and Recreation Management (Master’s)
Advisor: Dr. Todd Duhamel
Pre-frailty and cardiovascular disease risk in middle aged and older women

From working at Mini U as a support worker for children with special needs to coaching in multiple sports, Boreskie’s volunteer and work experiences are all related to getting people active and improving health. With an interest in physical activity and how it relates to chronic disease, his career goal is to become a Doctor of Medicine.

Jane Breen

Mathematics (Doctoral)
Markov chains subject to combinatorial constraints: analysis and synthesis

Breen says she enjoyed all of her subjects in school from English to home economics, but that “math could turn a bad day into a good day.” Passionate about teaching math, Breen is aiming for a career in academic research. She chose math because it can help explain real-world systems.

Alexandra Ciapala

Biochemistry and Medical Genetics (Master’s)
Advisor: Dr. Spencer Gibson
Siege tactics in fighting the war on cancer

Ciapala is studying the interconnecting networks and intricate regulation involved in the orchestra of chemical reactions that underlie our lives, which cancer disrupts. Although she wants to pursue a career in clinical psychology, Ciapala also has a passion for writing fiction.

Miriam Derksen

Biochemistry and Medical Genetics (Master’s)
Advisor: Dr. Spencer Gibson
Stress management and tumour survival: how glioblastoma copes with stress

Derksen is attracted to the field of medical research and has always loved learning about how the body and cells function. Studying stress in cancer provided her with the opportunity to combine these two interests. She aspires to be a teacher to inspire the next generation.

Colin Graydon

Medical Microbiology (Doctoral)
Advisor: Dr. Keith Fowke
LAG-3: An immune handbrake with an unknown mechanism

A Vanier Scholar, Colin Graydon is Vice-President (Academic) of the Health Sciences Graduate Student Association, with a goal to being a clinician researcher. In his undergraduate years, he volunteered for a youth-run community program helping people living with HIV.

Viktoriya Mozolevska

Physiology and Pathophysiology (Master’s)
Advisor: Dr. Davinder Jassal
The art of preventing broken hearts in colorectal and renal cell cancer

Majoring in genetics, Mozolevska says research in the field of cardio-oncology is very meaningful to her, as many of her relatives have battled with cancer. Through her research, she hopes to find the most effective drug that would protect the heart from the devastating side effects of anti-cancer therapy.

Rachel Nickel

Physics and Astronomy (Master’s)
Advisor: Dr. Johan van Lierop
Biocide coated magnetic nanoparticles: a new way to treat infections

Studying condensed matter physics, Nickel says she is fascinated by physics because it adds to our fundamental understanding of the world around us. When she’s not unraveling the mysteries of the universe, she is a figure skating judge with Skate Canada.

Yue (Yvette) Shang

Animal Science (Doctoral)
Advisor: Dr. Karmin O
Kidney ischemia reperfusion injury induced oxidative stress in distant organ – A Star Wars story retold

Shang says she has always been fascinated with biology, especially animal and molecular biology, and is attracted to fundamental biomedical research and agriculture. She currently works in a laboratory that focuses on both agri-food products and animal science.

Matthew Stargardter

Economics (Doctoral)
Advisor: Greg Mason
Modelling Patient Decision-Making in the Context of Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM)

Economics has been described as the science of choice. Stargardter believes health outcomes in Canada often reflect the choices of individuals trying to do the best they can for themselves and their families while confronted with constraints on their time, energy, and income. He hopes to use his knowledge to assist decision-makers in devising more effective treatments and interventions for chronic diseases.

Elizabeth Wall-Wieler

Community Health Sciences (Doctoral)
Advisor: Dr. Leslie Roos
Maternal responses to having a child taken into care

Wall-Wieler is fascinated by statistics. She loves numbers and working with linkable administrative data that allow her to use the information represented by numbers to look at important social questions. Her research examines areas of health and social inequality.


The emcee for the Final Competition will be Paul Samyn, editor, Winnipeg Free Press. Judges will be: Sarah Guillemard, MLA, Fort Richmond; Tom Penner, Director, Research and Innovation Policy, Manitoba Department of Growth, Enterprise and Trade; and Karen Debroni, President, Debroni & Associates.

Doors open at 6:30 pm. Everyone is invited to cheer on the finalists, who will test their mettle in front of a live audience. The People’s Choice Award will be chosen by the live audience.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition originally developed by The University of Queensland. 3MT® challenges graduate students to consolidate their ideas and research discoveries so they can be presented concisely to a non-specialist audience.

The winner of the 3MT Final Competition here at the University of Manitoba will advance to the western regional competition in April.

Join the conversation on Twitter! Follow us at @umanitoba and tag your tweets with #3MT and #umanitoba.

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

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