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Queen’s PhD candidate wins Matariki 3MT contest

Sean Marrs presents during Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.
Sean Marrs presents on his research into state surveillance in 18th century Paris during the Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Sean Marrs, a PhD candidate in the Department of History, has won the Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Marrs’s research delves into state surveillance in 18th century Paris and his 3MT presentation connects it to modern day anti-espionage efforts and even COVID-19 tracking.

Marrs was one of 10 presenters taking part in the second annual competition between Queen’s, Durham University, University of Otago, and University of Western Australia. The virtual competition was judged by a panel of experts from across the international network.

“The Matariki 3MT brings together the best presenters from several universities across three continents, so winning was unexpected,” Marrs says. “The process has been equal parts fun and challenging. Presenting the significance of your research to a broad audience in only three minutes is a unique prospect. The 3MT forces you to define what is most important about your research and why it resonates with a public audience. It is a challenge like no other.”

First developed by Australia’s University of Queensland in 2008, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) challenges graduate students to communicate the significance of their projects to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes.

Queen’s was also represented by Alastair Kierulf (PhD candidate, Chemistry) and Alice Santilli (Master’s, School Computing). All three participated in the Queen’s Three Minute Thesis competition earlier this year, where Santilli took first place, followed by Marrs. The recordings from this event were submitted to the Matariki event.

“The 3MT has become a familiar, well-established event at Queen’s and the expansion of 3MT to include our Matariki partners in Australia, New Zealand and the UK for the second year is an exciting opportunity to share research and to consider its impact,” says Sandra den Otter, Vice Provost (International).

Through its membership in the Matariki Nework, Queen’s students, faculty, and staff have access to a variety of opportunities to share their research, experiences, and knowledge while also hearing from peers from around the world.

Second place went to Olivia Johnston of UWA, and Otago’s Victoria Purdy claimed the People’s Choice award. Each participant’s presentation is available on the Matariki Network’s YouTube channel.

The Matariki Network of Universities is an international group of leading, research intensive universities, each among the most historic in its own country. Along with Queen’s, members include: Dartmouth College (U.S.); Durham University (UK); University of Otago (New Zealand); Tubingen University (Germany); Uppsala University (Sweden); and University of Western Australia. The network celebrated its 10th anniversary early this year.