Part of Research Week, the 3-Minute Thesis final featured 12 graduate students presenting years of research within 180 seconds, with one slide and no props.

Bringing research into focus

The School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (SGSPA) recently hosted Research Week, an annual celebration highlighting the impact and ingenuity of the research being done by the university’s graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

This year’s Research Week included a series of events, including the final of the 3-Minute Thesis, United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Research Day, and the 3-Minute Research competition for postdoctoral fellows.

“Research Week is an occasion for Queen’s to celebrate and showcase the remarkable accomplishments of our graduate student and postdoctoral researchers,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (SGSPA). “The week-long event provides a wonderful opportunity for our emerging researchers to come together, across multiple disciplines, and highlight cutting edge research, while simultaneously fostering an environment that encourages collaborative, interdisciplinary, and innovative thinking.”

3-Minute Thesis

The parameters of the 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition are well known – no props, one slide, three minutes – for contestants to explain years of research for a panel of non-expert judges. The final featured 12 presenters who advanced from the qualifying heats held earlier in the month.


The winner of the 2024 3-Minute Thesis competition is Julia Tropak, a Master's student in chemistry, for her presentation ‘Bacteria: Friend or foe?’. Tropak now advances to the Ontario final.

Faculty of Arts and Science Master’s student in the Department of Chemistry Julia Tropak earned top spot in the 3MT for her presentation Bacteria: Friend or foe?. She now advances to the Ontario final. 

“This is the second year I’ve competed in the competition, and I guess hard work pays off,” Tropak says. “I did change some things about my speech from last year, but the slide is the same. It’s just a fun experience. Getting to distil your research down to three minutes, it’s hard but it’s really fun and being able to be creative about it and not having to go into the nitty-gritty of it is a very different way to think about your research but it’s really fun.”

Ujjwal Sangwan (Master’s - Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) and Aryaman Sharma (Master’s - Translational Medicine) tied for runner-up while Sharma also captured the People’s Choice award.

Sociology alumni Colby Pereira was one of three judges for the 3MT and talked about the up-and-coming academics that took part in the event and about Tropak’s enthusiasm for her research. “I think Julia sees a path forward and a way to really change the future and I think that’s what made her research stand out,” Periera says. “The future looks very bright, and we are in great hands. I’m very happy to have been part of this today.”


The three 3MT judges were (l to r): Matthew Evans, Provost, Alistair MacLean, Professor Emeritus, and Colby Pereira, University Councilor.

Provost Matthew Evans was also one of the judges at the event. “I think so much of it is intriguing. I don’t think I want to single out one of them. I think there was some fantastic stories, I loved some of the anecdotes and a lot of them brought in stories about themselves and why they were doing this that made it personal. I enjoyed that.”

Sustainable Development Goals Graduate Student Research Day

Representing a wide range of research areas, 11 graduate students and one postdoctoral fellow presented on how their ongoing work applies to the advancement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, at Queen’s and around the world. 

The event, co-hosted with the Office of the Vice-Principal (Global Engagement), brought together graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to share ideas and build connections.

Associate Dean, SGSPA, Tara MacDonald spoke at the Sustainable Development Goal Research Day, and called the event an opportunity to present research to a non-specialist audience. “The students have a desire to share their research and this event gives them a perfect opportunity. They also hear about research from other graduate and postdoctoral students.

3-Minute Research

The 3-Minute Research competition is similar to the 3MT, challenging postdoctoral fellows to share their research in three minutes or less.

Participants presented research from a wide range of disciplines, from biology to psychiatry to mining, demonstrating how their research is tackling some of the largest problems facing humanity including sustainability, water management, and improved outcomes for human health. 

The top prizes went to Jithin S. Sunny (Biology), Nature’s Heal; Worms unwind the human made plastic problem; Nazanin Bahaloo Horeh, (Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining), From Waste to Wealth: Microbes turn electronic waste into gold; and Thamali Kariyawasam (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering), A 10,000-ton Algal Liver: Genetic engineering for improved wastewater treatment.

Find out more about Research Week 2024 and each of the events.