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(From left to right) Rady Faculty of Health Sciences graduate students Toby Le, Landon Falk, Chetan Patil and Shanelle Gingras will be competing at the 3MT finals on March 24.

Rady students advance to 3MT finals

March 4, 2020 — 

Landon Falk was no stranger to performing before an audience as she stood on stage trying to remember her lines. However, this time her lines weren’t from a musical but from her scientific research.

The master’s student in the department of physiology and pathophysiology, Max Rady College of Medicine, took part in the first heat of the University of Manitoba’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition held on the Bannatyne campus on Feb. 24.

Graduate students had just three minutes to present their complex research in language aimed at non-experts. They were judged on three categories: comprehension, engagement and communication style.

Falk used her musical theatre experience to prepare her presentation, titled The role of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in the pathogenesis of congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

“With a competition like this you have a short period of time, so you need to make it captivating, make it catchy, so being able to have a little bit of the flair for the dramatics helped me,” she said.

Falk was one of three winners in the first heat. Chetan Patil, a PhD student in the department of pharmacology and therapeutics, Max Rady College of Medicine, was the other Rady Faculty of Health Sciences learner who won the heat and will move on to the finals at the end of March.

Patil, whose presentation is titled Mechanism of pannexin-I channel activation in Alzheimer’s disease, was happy with his performance, but he’s looking to improve his talk as he heads into the finals.

“There were some keywords that I missed out on so I think I’ll time myself better,” Patil said. “I think I could have gone one or two seconds longer but I managed to wrap it up quickly. So in the future, I’d like to wrap it up slower and leave and impact.”

The second and third heats took place Feb. 25 and Feb. 27, both on the Fort Garry campus. Two students in the Max Rady College of Medicine’s department of medical microbiology and infectious diseases were selected as wildcards. Shanelle Gingras, a PhD student, and Toby Le, a master’s student, will move on to the finals to present with 10 other competitors.

Le, whose presentation is titled The unknown link between DMPA and HIV risk, said he was shocked when he found out he was a wildcard selection.

“I thought this year’s competitors were really good, everyone was awesome,” he said. “Getting the wildcard is an opportunity to get back in the competition and give it my all.”

Gingras gave her presentation, titled Safer surfing: the impact of genetics on inflammation and HIV susceptibility, at the third heat on the Fort Garry campus. While she thought it would be less nerve-racking than presenting on the Bannatyne campus because she wouldn’t know anyone in the crowd – that wasn’t the case.

“My lab members made a field trip of it and came to support me,” she said. “I was very touched to have so many people show their support and attend my presentation, even though it did fuel some of my nerves.”

Finalists from the three heats and the wildcard selections will compete on March 24 at 7 p.m. at the Robert B. Schultz Theatre in St. John’s College. The winner will move on to the Western Regional Competition that takes place April 21 at the University of Alberta.

The first 3MT competition was held in 2008 at the University of Queensland in Australia. Events now take place at universities around the world – from the United States to Hong Kong to the United Kingdom.

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