3 Minute Thesis

Graduate Studies

3 Minute Thesis


3 Minute Thesis

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Queen’s 3MT turns 3

by Sharday Mosurinjohn
31st March 2014

The third year of Queen’s Three Minute Thesis Competition saw two heats with twenty competitors from sixteen different fields across campus. Among those to be represented in the finals are Biology, Education, History, Clinical Psychology, Gender Studies Geological Engineering, Kinesiology, and Mechanical & Materials Engineering (Biomechanical).

Heat 1 winners

Heat 1 finalists - (L-R with Dr Brouwer): Mike Best, Mary Chaktsiris, Hayley Roberts, Paul Vernon

Mike Best, a PhD student in Clinical Psychology will be presenting his talk on “Neurophysiological Biases Towards People with Schizophrenia” again in the upcoming finals. His take at this point is that “the 3 Minute Thesis has been a great experience so far” and it’s one that he “highly recommends.” For him, the 3MT is “a great opportunity to disseminate your research to a multi-disciplinary audience who may never have come across your research without this forum.” The fun facts Best takes away cover “topics as wide ranging as World War I history, to the nervous system that exists in the gastrointestinal tract, to flies that have sperm hundreds of times the length of a human’s.”

In preparing for the 3MT, says contestant Michelle van der Pouw Kraan (MASC student, Geological Engineering) it was “challenging to 'translate' words I use everyday into words that everyone can understand. It makes you realize how much jargon there is in your research field.” van der Pouw Kraan’s presentation, with the enigmatic title “Rock Uncertainty and the Mona Lisa” gave a snapshot of her research on tunneling through rock. In the past, when friends and family have asked van der Pouw Kraan what she studies, she recalls she has found it difficult to explain, but “now I have an answer!” she exclaims.

Fellow competitor Hayley Roberts (M.Sc Candidate Biology) agrees that speaking in front of a diverse crowd is one of the best ways to “help you get a grasp on what your research is all about.” Roberts decided to enter 3MT because she had been concentrating so much on her study methods for the upcoming field season, that she wanted to “revisit the core of what [her] thesis was about.” She found that condensing her research—which her talk title “What’s Life Without a Little Risk?” might not have given away was actually on the breeding cycles of female temperate frogs in Eastern Ontario—into just 3 minutes was “incredibly difficult but very rewarding.”

It was finding a way to “tell the ‘story’” of her thesis that most helped Lorraine van Zon (M.Ed. candidate), polish her presentation skills. Offering a succinct version of her project on practical ways of maintaining the cognitive abilities of older adults “has been a great way to prepare” for delivering the full treatment in her upcoming oral defense.

Heat 2 finalists

Heat 2 finalists (L-R with Dr McAuley): Michelle van der Pouw Kraan, Lorraine von Zon, Jasmin Ma, Sima Zakani

Michelle van der Pouw Kraan adds that “For future competitors, I think the hardest part is to not let nerves get in the way.  Being judged and timed at the same time, I tried to remember at certain points in my speech where I was supposed to be time-wise, so at least, I could cut out the timing factor.” If you’re thinking about entering next year, consider this advice from finalist Mary Chaktsiris (PhD Candidate, History), too: “to keep my presentation under 3 minutes I focused on the central ideas that drive my research forward and connect it to the world around us.” For her, this meant emphasizing the poignant fact that “history is not only about the past; history is also about how we continue to shape our futures.” 

And if any of these projects have piqued your curiosity, you can find out more about them and other fascinating research on Wednesday April 9th, 2014, at 5pm in Kinesiology room 101. The top ranking presenter will go on from there to the Ontario-wide competition to be held at McMaster University (Hamilton, ON) on Thursday April 24th, 2014 at 3.00pm.

Heat 1 Participants & JudgesHeat 2 participants and Judges

Photo Left:

  • Front row Judges - Dr Carlos Prado, Dr Georgia Fotopoulos, Dr Duncan Hunter, Dr Zsuzsa Csergo
  • ​Behind students - Mike Best, Sanchari Sur, Mary Chaktsiris, Hayley Roberts, Kurosh Amoui Kalareh, Ralph Yeung, Paul Vernon, Wei Yan, Shuai Xu, Fang Zhang

Photo right (L-R): Jasmin Ma, Ryan Dhillon, Joshua Alpern, Raya Assan, Michelle van der Pouw Kraan, Mandy St. Rose, Sima Zakani, Lorraine von Zon, Nancy Owen (judge), Dr Stephane Courteau (judge), Dr Tara MacDonald (judge), Edward Thomas (Judge), Tyler Nash, Ian Gilchrist