By Krystian Kozek (G3) and MariaSanta Mangione (G3)
April 25, 2017

 The Three Minute Thesis®: Students present their Ph.D. work in the same length of time it takes to read this article

On March 31, 2017, five Vanderbilt MSTP graduate-phase students participated in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition. Melissa Bloodworth (G4), Daniel Kashima (G4), Shan Parikh (G4), Krystian Kozek (G3), and MariaSanta Mangione (G3) all elected to condense years of Ph.D. work into less than 180 seconds of oral presentation with one static slide to a non-specialist audience. Their work was judged on the criteria of (1) comprehension, (2) engagement, and (3) communication style against 50 other competitors across many Ph.D. disciplines.

Why would we choose to do this? Well, first there are the cash prizes: $1000 for Winner, $500 for Runner-up, $350 for People’s Choice, and $100 for the remaining seven finalists, of which there were ten total. Daniel Kashima was a 2017 finalist and joined the ranks of MSTP students who have won in the past, including:

Daniel Kashima, 2017 Finalist  
Lillian Johnson, 2015 Runner-up
Benjamin Dean, 2014 Winner
Brian Grieb, 2014 Finalist
India Reddy, 2014 Finalist

Second, the 3MT® competition is a chance to present your research to a broader audience and to practice “translating” your presentation from scientific jargon to terms that allow non-scientists to appreciate the significance of your research. This exercise is particularly timely as the scientific community is working to persuade lawmakers and their constituents to maintain (and ideally increase) funding for scientific research.

This year’s audience was comprised of Vanderbilt graduate students, faculty, and alumni, MSTP Director Chris Williams, Dean Mark Wallace, Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos, and Nashville community members. Vanderbilt alumna Claudia Deane was both a finalist judge and the keynote speaker. Deane is the Vice President of Research at Pew Research Center. She shared an insider’s view of the polling industry and discussed the difficult task of first garnering and then accurately presenting the American public’s opinion on topics ranging from science to political preferences.

So, although you missed the 2017 3MT competition, consider packaging your thesis into a 180-second pitch and then delivering it to family, friends, lawmakers…anyone! For more information about the 3MT®, visit https://studentorg.vanderbilt.edu/gsc/3mt/ and https://threeminutethesis.uq.edu.au/.