3 Minute Thesis

Graduate Studies

3 Minute Thesis


3 Minute Thesis

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Amanda Brissenden - 2019 winner

Three Minutes of Fame

By Phil Gaudreau

A PhD thesis can be as long as 80,000 words – which could take more than nine hours for its writer to recite aloud.

The Three Minute Thesis competition, meanwhile, asks graduate students to compress months and years of research into just three minutes.

Over the last few days, faculty alongside staff from the School of Graduate Studies determined who would represent Queen’s at the 2019 Three Minute Thesis provincial competition.

After whittling down 28 competitors to just 12, dozens of students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered in Mitchell Hall on Wednesday, March 27 to hear the final presentations.

Listening in attentively were four judges, including Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. The judges evaluated the presenters based on how well they engaged the audience, how clearly they have translated the research for a non-technical audience, and how well they communicated their message.

Following much deliberation, Amanda Brissenden, a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering, who specializes in Biomedical Engineering, was selected as the overall winner.

“I feel a little overwhelmed, but I am really excited,” she says. “A number of people have already offered to support me in preparing for the Ontario level and I am looking forward to their feedback.”

Brissenden’s presentation entitled, “Building Blocks for a Healthier Spine” delved into her research which involves using polymers to augment the human spine and help alleviate pain. In addition to representing Queen’s provincially, Brissenden was awarded $1,000.

“Congratulations to Amanda Brissenden and to all our participants on excellent efforts in this year’s Three Minute Thesis competition,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean (School of Graduate Studies). “Queen’s has a long tradition of unmistakable discovery and innovation, and these presentations offer our graduate students a chance to both showcase and communicate how their research and their own discoveries are making a difference in engaging and thought-provoking ways.”

Nevena Martinović, a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature was the runner up, taking home a $500 prize. Martinović’s thesis looks at how 18th-century actresses dealt with ageism as they approached and passed middle age.

Hannah Dies, a PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering, whose research focuses on detection of biochemical molecules in fluid samples, received a duffle bag full of Queen’s merchandise as the People’s Choice award winner.

In all, the 12 competitors represented nine departments across the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Faculty of Arts and Science, and Faculty of Health Sciences. For Brissenden, the multidisciplinary nature of the event is a big part of what makes it interesting.

“Last year, I watched the finals to support some friends and it was awesome – so I decided this year was the year to participate,” she says. “You can get a bit siloed in graduate school where you keep hanging around people in your department and see projects focused on similar topics. I really enjoyed tonight’s presentations on art history and English literature – it’s not something you hear much about in engineering.”

The 2019 Ontario Three Minute Thesis Competition will be held at McMaster University on Wednesday, April 17 beginning at 9:30 a.m. For more information, visit McMaster University’s website. That competition will decide who represents Ontario at the national competition.

The Three Minute Thesis competition was first conceptualized at an Australian university, and was first held at Queen’s seven years ago.