Graduate School

The University of Mississippi

Students to Present in Three Minute Thesis Competition

By Jordan Orris

Students from all academic disciplines of the Graduate School will have the opportunity to participate in the annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition in Fall 2018. Entrants are challenged to present about their research thesis or dissertation in only three minutes using just one PowerPoint slide. Originally developed by the University of Queensland in Australia in 2008, 3MT® competitions occur all around the world.

A unique opportunity for graduate students from across different areas of study to connect with each other, students from Art to Physics, History to Biology, and everything in between, will share their findings with peers, professors, and distinguished judges. Both master’s students and doctoral candidates are invited to participate, with a division of the competition being held for each respective degree level. Last year’s 3MT® at UM Grand Prize winner was Samyak Shertok, a M.F.A. candidate in poetry, who spoke about his collection of poems entitled, “In the Year of the Earth: Notes from the Epicenter,” written about the 2015 7.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Nepal, Shertok’s birthplace.

3MT® is an opportunity for students and researchers to share about their subject matter to those who may know nothing about the field. It’s an exercise in simplicity to explain in layman’s terms, and even further, consolidate only the most important aspects of the thesis into the three minute presentation. According to the University of Queensland, an average PhD thesis is about 80,000 words, which would take 9 hours to present in its entirety. So to limit the 3MT® competitors to only 3 minutes demonstrates how a doctoral candidate must encapsulate the essence of the information.

Previous 3MT® at UM Grand Prize winner, Dr. Sujith Ramachandran shares, “my experience participating in the 3 Minute Thesis [competition] helped hone my research communication skills and taught me how to evaluate the community relevance for my research. It was particularly challenging to present in front of an audience full of individuals from such diverse disciplines… this contest made me think about the contributions of each scientific discipline to our community and how we need to reach out beyond our individual bubbles to have the most impact on society.”

The 3MT® judges are looking at specific aspects of each speaker’s presentation. For communication style, was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to an intelligent, but non-specialist audience? For comprehension,  did the presentation help the audience understand the research? For engagement, did the presentation make the audience want to know more?

Both first and second place prizes will be awarded in the master’s and doctoral candidate division, and the Grand Prize winner could be from either category.

Dr. Ramachandran continues, “I highly recommend that graduate students participate in the contest and challenge themselves to display their communication skills and make their research meaningful to society. To those who do not have research to share right now, I suggest they attend the contest and learn not just about the variety of research being conducted on this campus, but also about the value of interdisciplinary collaboration.”

Both rounds of 3MT® at UM are open to the public. The first round is to be held on October 23 at 9-11 am and 1-5 pm in the Student Union Ballroom. The semi-finalists will compete in the final round on November 8 at 6 pm at the Jackson Avenue Center. The grand prize winner from the University of Mississippi will win an all-expenses paid trip to the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) 3MT® Competition to be held in Knoxville, Tennessee in February 2019. At that Conference, third, second, Grand Prize, and People’s Choice winners will be awarded.

To view past 3MT® Competitions, dating back to 2014, view the UM Graduate School YouTube Channel.