Student Julia Tropak holding a large cheque.

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.

Earning a provincial title in three minutes

For the first time ever, a Queen’s University student earned top honours at the 2024 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) provincial finals hosted by Lakehead University.

Faculty of Arts and Science and School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Master’s student in the Department of Chemistry Julia Tropak earned top spot in the 3MT for her presentation Bacteria: Friend or foe?

“I was definitely nervous – my hands were shaking quite a bit before I started – but not as nervous as I was at the heats and final at Queen’s since I had already done my speech for a live audience twice, and I was truly just happy to be competing and representing Queen’s,” Tropak says. “I was thrilled with how my presentation went, even before I heard the results. It felt amazing to hear the audience respond to every humorous line and watch them recall my introduction when I called back to it at the end.”

The parameters of the 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 3 Minute Thesis provides a unique opportunity to highlight how research conducted by our graduate students is making an impact,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs. “It empowers our graduate students to narrate the story of their research, demonstrating their dedicated efforts to contribute to a more equitable, just, and sustainable world.”

Tropak says she has several people to thank for her success in the competition.

“I must thank the wonderful Colette Steer for running the 3MT competition at Queen’s. She’s been so supportive, kind, and encouraging throughout the whole process,” Tropak says. “My thanks go to Dr. Amanda Bongers who introduced me to the idea of the 3MT and taught me how to tailor a presentation for a specific audience in her scientific communications course. I also thank my supervisor, Dr. Avena Ross, who introduced me to the world of biological chemistry, and has been, along with the rest of the Ross lab, so excited for me all along the way. And of course, thanks to my friends and family, who have always encouraged me, supported me, and calmed my nerves."

Next on the agenda for Tropak is competing at the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies annual conference in November.

For more information about the Ontario event, visit the webpage.