Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition originally developed by The University of Queensland in 2008, and now has been widely adopted at universities around the world. The exercise challenges masters and doctoral students to present a compelling talk on their thesis/dissertation topic and its significance.
Many theses and dissertations can be more than 80,000 words and take hours to present, but students in this competition have just three minutes and one slide to convey their often highly-technical research to a lay audience.
Presentations are judged by two main criteria: comprehension/content and engagement. Did the presentation help the audience (who may have no background at all in the research area) understand the topic? Did the method of presentation make the audience want to know more?
The UT academic colleges and the Graduate School collaborate to bring the 3MT® experience to our university. The colleges select participants to send to the semifinal competitions. This year, the college selected one student from each division to compete.
Armando Anzellini, Department of Anthropology How can anthropologists re-associate the remains of an individual without doing destructive DNA analyses? My project aims to do this through non-destructive chemometric methods. Very much like a sci-fi movie, chemometric devices can “scan” bone to get at its chemical composition. Using a handheld chemometric technique, my project looks to understand differences in skeletal physiology within and between individuals. While you would think that all bone is the same, anthropologists often use the small variations between individuals to interpret diet, migration, life history, and even disease. These small differences may also be significant between individuals. Understanding these differences would allow forensic anthropologists to re-associate remains that can’t be tested using DNA and even help identify the decedent.
Margo Birdwhistell, Department of Theatre My project focuses on the experience of designing the costumes for Marcus Gardley’s The House That Will Not Stand, and highlights all the challenges within. The play covers the lives of seven Free Women of Color in New Orleans in the early 1800s, and focuses on themes such as colorism, arranged marriage, and different interpretations of freedom. The struggle of designing this play lies in the fact that a lot of the concepts and stories discussed revolve around moments in American History that are not common knowledge to the general public, due to the erasure of non-white Eurocentric history, and therefore, a lot of research was necessary in creating the most authentic version of these characters.
Allison Pitinii Davis, Department of English My creative poetry dissertation examines the 1972 General Motors Lordstown strike not just as a historic event but as an ongoing, local phenomenon. My project argues that by examining working-class dissent across Youngstown’s industrial and postindustrial periods, we can recenter the regional complexities disregarded by national campaigns trying to exploit the Rust Belt for political power. My project is in dialogue with Jewish, labor, and deindustrialization scholarship, especially the research of LaToya Ruby Frazier, Sherry Lee Linkon, Hugh S. Manon, Frank D. Rashid, and Hana Wirth-Nesher.
Erin Mans, Department of Microbiology The Steinernema nematode and their Xenorhabdus bacteria are obligate soil dwelling symbionts that parasitize insects. My research has focused on trying to determine how the host nematode and bacterial symbiont select for each other during the adult stage of the nematode life cycle, and that this selection might be important for proper nematode reproductive behavior modulation. By rearing female nematodes from eggs to adulthood on lawns of Xenorhabdus mutants and comparing their egg laying behavior to females reared on unaltered or natural bacterial lawns, there is a significant drop in egg laying in females grown on the mutant lawns, and that adding exogenous dopamine can restore egg laying in the females grown on the mutant lawns. Overall, this suggests that the status of the bacteria can impact host behaviors, and that the Steinernema-Xenorhabdus system has potential as a new model for studying the gut-brain axis.