Samantha Twietmeyer finishes second at 2021 Matariki 3MT

An 80,000-word PhD thesis takes up to nine hours to present. For competitors in the 2021 Matariki 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) event, they only had three minutes. Queen’s University PhD candidate Samantha Twietmeyer was named runner-up for her presentation Scared of what’s behind you – Negotiating a double minority dilemma.

The Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) is an international group of seven universities including Dartmouth College, Durham University, Queen’s University, University of Otago, University of Tübingen, Upsala University, and the University of Western Australia.

The 3MT competition challenges research students to communicate the significance of their projects to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes using just one slide. The daunting task was just what Twietmeyer says - she needed to increase her confidence and to rediscover her initial excitement about her thesis work.

“In March I took part in the 3MT workshop through the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) to help me finish writing my thesis,” Twietmeyer says. “In the last couple of years of writing your thesis, you don’t have a lot of opportunity for feedback and I was struggling to keep writing. Colette (Steer) encouraged me to enter and thought I’d do one and that would be it. I never expected to win.”

The Matariki allows SGS to put forward the top two PhD students. Twietmeyer was first overall and Quentin Tsang from Translational Medicine was the next top PhD.

Twietmeyer comes from a background of musical theatre and drama but the event this year was hosted virtually due to the pandemic. This unique format had its challenges for someone used to presenting in front of a live audience that gives immediate feedback that she overcame that hurdle with a lot of practice and encouragement from Steer and Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies (SGS).

She also thanked her supervisor John McGarry for providing invaluable support for her research and encouragement throughout the competition process.”

And she notes, the competition has given her the motivation she needed to keep writing and she has also put her experience to good use at other public events.

“The 3MT helped me a few weekends ago when I was at a conference presenting a paper on the customs protocol in Northern Ireland,” Twietmeyer says. “My research is often difficult to disseminate outside of my own area of academia but I used my 3MT during the presentation and it made it so much easier. Other students should give it a try. It isn’t easy but it’s an incredibly valuable to experience it once. And SGS provides all the support required.”

To view Twietmeyer’s entire presentation and to learn more about the event, visit the Matariki Network of Universities website.