Queen’s graduate research goes global with Matariki 3 Minute Thesis

Nevena Martinović, a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at Queen’s, named runner-up in inaugural international competition.

[Matariki Network of Universities 3MT]Graduate students Amanda Brissenden, third from left, and Nevena Martinović, fourth from left, recently competed in the Matariki Network’s inaugural 3 Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) with Martinović being named runner-up. Congratulating them are, from left, Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science; Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean School of Graduate Studies; and Sandra den Otter, Associate Vice-Principal (International and Research).

Nevena Martinović, a PhD candidate in English Language and Literature at Queen’s, recently captured the runner-up award in the Matariki Network’s inaugural 3 Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) for her talk, “Acting your age – Gender & age on the 18th century stage.”

“This was a really great opportunity for me. I keep hearing about how not many students in the humanities take part, but it is a shame as in the English department narrative is so much a part of what we do,” Martinović says. “How to communicate our ideas and get that message across, the 3MT is an extraordinary opportunity to do just that.”

Preparing for the 3MT, Martinović explains, didn’t match how she usually writes but instead was similar to how she teaches.

“I find it easy to come up with contemporary examples for the students to understand and in less formal ways. The 3MT was an opportunity to practice that skill,” she says. “It was a surprise to be runner-up, but it speaks to how each presentation has great moments in them.”

Queen’s is no stranger to the 3MT having run its own event annually since 2012 and participating in the provincial competition since its inception in 2013, which the university hosted. When the Matariki Network asked its members if there was interest in a 3MT competition, it was an easy yes for Queen’s as it is an excellent opportunity to showcase graduate researchers to a broad international audience.

“Graduate research is integral to the research reputation of Queen’s,” says Fahim Quadir, Vice Provost and Dean School of Graduate Studies. “It is critical that Queen’s provide ample opportunity for our graduate students to showcase their research in diverse ways to reach a broad audience. The School of Graduate Studies already gives students a chance to speak or write about their work on the radio (Grad Chat), within the community (The Conversation), and now internationally through our membership with the Matariki Network. Such events serve to create a community for our students to share their passion for research and, importantly, to motivate and learn from one another in a safe and encouraging space.”

The format of 3MT is often perceived as more suited to STEM and health sciences, making it a challenge to convince students in other areas, in particular the humanities and social sciences, to present their work. It is hoped that Martinović’s success encourages students from all disciplines to participate.

“I have watched many 3MT competitions over the years and I find it encouraging to see more students in the humanities and social sciences participating in these events in recent years,” says Barbara Crow, Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science. “Nevena winning the runner-up prize for both the Queen’s and Matariki competitions demonstrates the relevancy of research in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the creativity of our students in showcasing their research. It is important to remember that the primary purpose of the 3MT is to explain your research to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes. This is an important skill for all disciplines as well as both academic and non-academic careers.”

As Queen’s is a member of the Matariki Network the new competition was an example of how the university collaborates with its partners.

“The Matariki 3MT is a welcome opportunity to strengthen our engagement with partner universities in the Matariki Network,” says Sandra den Otter, Associate Vice-Principal (International and Research). “Sharing graduate student research enlarges our appreciation of research conducted across the network and gives graduate students an invaluable opportunity to be an integral part of that research exchange.”

The Matariki 3MT complements other research collaborations between Queen’s University and its MNU partners, for example, research projects between Queen’s and Dartmouth in global health, the neural underpinnings of attention and distraction, and the salinity of aquatic ecosystems. The 3MT is just one of the many Matariki Network initiatives that Queen’s is engaged in. Earlier this year, Queen’s hosted the Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Program, while the Bader International Study Centre sent students to the Global Citizenship Forum in Durham, UK.

Also competing were Amanda Brissenden, PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering and winner of the 2019 Queen’s 3MT for her presentation “Building Blocks for a Healthier Spine,” and Hannah Dies, PhD candidate in Chemical Engineering and Queen’s People’s Choice winner for “Building the future of sensors: One nanoparticle at a time.”

Matariki member institutions promote excellence in research-led education, in which students receive education from researchers at the cutting edge of their field. Each member institution conducts transformative research across a broad subject base in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. Each promotes a combination of academic learning and personal growth through extracurricular activities in diverse scholarly communities so as to develop rounded citizens of the world and leaders of the future. In addition to Queen’s, institutional membership includes: University of Western Australia (UWA); Tübingen University; Uppsala University; Dartmouth College; University of Otago; and Durham University. To learn more about the opportunities available visit the international page of the Queen’s website and the MNU website.

Note: This article originally appeared in the Queen's Gazette.