Rady grad students shine at Three Minute Thesis final
Learners place 1st, 2nd and win People’s Choice Award
Three minutes isn’t much time to explain complex research and novel ideas, but a trio of Rady Faculty of Health Sciences graduate students excelled at presenting their work clearly and concisely in just 180 seconds.
The students took home three of the four prizes at the University of Manitoba’s annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) final on March 30.
Keshav Narayan Alagarsamy, a PhD student in physiology and pathophysiology at the Max Rady College of Medicine, won this year’s Dr. Archie McNicol Prize for First Place and $2,500.
Akshi Malik, also a PhD student in physiology and pathophysiology, received the UM Retirees Association Prize for Second Place and $1,250.
Dr. Olubukola Olatosi, a PhD student in oral biology at the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry, clinched the People’s Choice Award and $200.
“Congratulations to the students, who did an outstanding job of representing the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the 3MT final,” said Dr. Peter Nickerson, vice-provost (health sciences), dean, Max Rady College of Medicine, and dean, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.
“They showcased the valuable research our graduate students are working on and showed the importance of being able to explain their complicated work in plain language to reach a larger audience.”
3MT competitors must summarize their research and its importance without using any notes or props. They are allowed to use a single slide to illustrate their topic.
Alagarsamy has mixed feelings about beating out the other 11 UM graduate students who made the final from an initial field of 34 competitors. He’s happy he was victorious, but he’s anxious about having to represent UM at the Western Regional 3MT Competition on May 25.
“I have very good presentation skills, but I’m always nervous,” he said. “I’m a very nervous guy. I have great stage fear. If I can do it, then anyone can do it.”
In front of the audience on the Fort Garry campus, Alagarsamy calmed his nerves and presented his thesis project on the capacity to use stem cells and nanomaterials to regenerate a damaged heart after a heart attack. The goal of the research is to allow more heart disease patients to lead normal lives.
“I congratulate Keshav on this wonderful achievement,” said Dr. Sanjiv Dhingra, a professor of physiology and pathophysiology who is Alagarsamy’s advisor. “I think winning the 3MT competition will further help him to achieve his career goals.”
It was Dhingra who motivated Alagarsamy to take part in the competition. With his advisor’s encouragement, and his labmates’ suggestions on how to improve his presentation, Alagarsamy practised his performance over and over. To get ready for the Western Regional 3MT Competition at the University of Saskatchewan, he’s going to do more of the same.
“I’m grateful for what happened today, and I’ll try my best in the future as well,” Alagarsamy said.
Like Alagarsamy, Malik put in a lot of practice to fine-tune her presentation. She recited her performance whenever she could – from the shower to lunchtime.
“I felt really, really amazing while I was presenting, so I think it was a well-earned place,” said Malik, whose advisor is Dr. Pawan Singal, a professor of physiology and pathophysiology.
Malik’s research is seeking to understand how the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin affects the hearts of cancer patients, as well as looking for a cardioprotective agent that can prevent doxorubicin-induced heart failure.
While the judges were wowed by Alagarsamy and Malik’s performances, Olatosi was voted by the audience as its favourite.
Olatosi was thankful for the people who voted for her and said she’s no longer afraid to speak in public.
“Getting to the finals and getting the People’s Choice Award is quite an amazing feeling,” she said. “I feel so happy and so glad.”
Olatosi’s research focuses on determining the strategies to implement the novel Canadian Caries Risk Assessment Tool and to provide guidelines for implementation to improve the oral health of Indigenous children. Her advisor is Dr. Robert Schroth, professor of preventive dental science at the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry.
Daniel Schwade Araujo, a PhD student in applied health sciences, a joint program between the College of Rehabilitation Sciences and the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, and Michelle Morello, a master’s student in genetic counselling at the Max Rady College of Medicine, also took part in the 3MT final.