3-Minute Thesis 2023: Ontario Finals

A Celebration of Graduate Student Research
3MT 2023 Participants

Graduate students across Ontario conduct inspiring and innovative research that tackles significant global issues. The Three-Minute Thesis is an attention-grabbing celebration of this important work, challenging students to distill their complex projects into 180 seconds and a single, static slide. A panel of non-specialist judges assess the talks that condense years of analysis and deep thought in jargon-free language that excites, educates, and expands.

This year, Queen’s was represented by El Zahraa Majed, a PhD student in Kinesiology and Health Studies, whose talk was titled “How to Belong? Physical Activity as a Vehicle for Integration”. Her captivating work examines the relationship between immigration, exercise, and integration in the context of overall health. About the value of the 3MT, Majed states:

"[s]eeing all Queen’s representatives supporting me and being proud of my performance which was portrayed either in-person or by email really brought me joy and satisfaction. … I did have a personal 'win', having gratitude and pride of making it so far and representing my university. Lastly, getting to meet other competitors and representatives from different universities was an enjoyable experience and I am sure I will benefit one way or another from the connections I made."

Since its foundation at the University of Queensland in 2008, the 3MT has grown to its current international scope, spanning over 85 countries. Queen's hosted its first competition in 2012 and the first Ontario-wide 3MT in 2013, making this academic year's event a tenth anniversary of sorts! The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts overlooking the St. Lawrence River provided a beautiful venue for twelve engaging student presentations on topics ranging from disease detection to language loss to accessibility in gaming.

A longstanding supporter and judge of the 3MT is Rob Baker, Queen’s grad (BFA ’86) and probably best known as a member of The Tragically Hip. He has this to say about the 3MT:

"My involvement with 3MT has been one of the most surprising and gratifying things in my life. Each year, I eagerly look forward to this event, and were I not a judge, I would be in attendance anyway. In fact, I cannot understand why this is not an annual CBC special event. This is exactly the sort of thing we should be collectively celebrating. After a few hours of exposure to these bright, beautiful and inquisitive minds, I am left edified and with a deep and comforting sense that we are all going to be okay. Our future is in good hands."

Student Experience

The 3MT is an opportunity for talented researchers to develop their communication skills and learn about the breadth of knowledge generated across their institution by listening to co-presenters during workshops, heats, and university finals. This circle expands during the provincial 3MT, connecting students across universities. In preparing for these short but impactful talks, the Ontario-wide speakers participated in and won their home institution’s 3MT event, and many honed their storytelling ability as part of supportive training workshops.

Emily Majaesic, a third-year Chemistry PhD student and the 2023 Ontario 3MT Finals winner shared her feelings about the experience:

"I’ve enjoyed the entire 3MT process … Distilling a complex concept down to its essence, and then being able to communicate that, is a skill I am glad to have developed.  I think it is extremely important to be able to justify your work to non-experts. It’s been very encouraging to know that I have some skill at this, especially when I consider perusing a career outside of wet lab work … For me, the best part of this experience has been meeting all of the dedicated students from across Ontario, and learning about the incredible research they are doing."

For those graduate students considering the 3MT in 2024, El Zahraa says “Do it, you have nothing to lose and many things to gain. Even if you don’t make it far, you will gain many skills that as graduate students we lack and we highly need. It will make you a more confident communicator and presenter.”

In November, the 3MT National Showcase takes place during the Canadian Association of Graduate Schools (CAGS) conference in Victoria, BC. For more information about the Ontario 3MT results, check out the SGSPA website here!