Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT® for short, is a spoken-word thesis competition developed by the University of Queensland. Held annually at Stony Brook University since 2017, 3MT is an opportunity for graduate students to present their dissertation research findings to a general audience in three minutes with only one PowerPoint slide. The goal is for students to engage all their communication skills to make their research vivid and engaging while emphasizing its key point without technical terminology or field-specific jargon. This year’s event was held virtually on April 28.
2021 3MT Winners
First Place ($1,000)
Chun-Hao Pan, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Title of talk: Targeting Keratin 17 in Pancreatic Cancer: A Therapeutic Window Opens
Second Place ($700) and People’s Choice ($300)
Sare Santos, English
Title of talk: Living in the End of the World
Third Place (tie, $500 each)
Shruti Iyer, Genetics
Title of talk: Solving Genetic Puzzles to Understand Cancer
Amanda Russo, Integrative Neuroscience, Psychology
Title of talk: Getting Rid of Traumatic Memories
“Our students really committed to 3MT this year, and their talks were phenomenal,” said Kathleen Flint Ehm, assistant dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Initiatives. “This is even more impressive given that we’ve been embroiled in a pandemic for over a year now. The positivity and peer support they all brought to every coaching session was an inspiration. I almost wish we didn’t give prizes, because all 26 students were simply exceptional.”
This year’s competition had the largest cohort of competitors, with 26 PhD students in disciplines ranging from Art History to English to Marine Sciences to Anthropology to Civil Engineering to Genetics to Physics.
3MT — a collaboration between the Graduate School, the Career Center and the Graduate Student Organization — is a competition, but Stony Brook emphasizes the professional development derived from participating in small-group research communication coaching, using a cohort approach that encourages peer feedback and support. So win or lose, SBU students gain valuable practice in talking about their research in a way that anyone can understand.
Research communication training and coaching was done online again this year, with every student having at least three rounds of training. Coaching was conducted by Kathleen Flint Ehm, who is also a research assistant professor with Stony Brook’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, and Paola Cepeda, a postdoc in Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development who serves as the program coordinator for the PhD Career Ladder Program.
The SBU Alumni Association generously sponsored the prizes.