Graduate students take the stage at the Three Minute Thesis competition

A person stands on a stage behind a podium and uses hand gestures while speaking. Behind them a screen shows a presentation slide with two black and white images. A few rows of audience members listen intently in front of them.
Shown during last year’s Three Minute Thesis competition, the audiences and judges listen to PhD candidate Brianna Lafoon give a research talk. Photo by Todd Brown/UW–Madison Media Solutions.

Eleven graduate students will compete for cash prizes and a people’s choice award at UW–Madison’s Three Minute Thesis final competition on February 16.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an international research communication competition, which started at the University of Queensland in Australia. In every 3MT competition worldwide, a panel of judges weighs competitors’ skill in audience engagement, communication to non-specialists, and overall comprehension and content of their research presentation.

The student competing on Feb. 16 come from different disciplines across campus, representing areas including STEM programs and design studies. They initially competed with a wider field of participants in October, with the top candidates advancing to this month’s competition.

Master’s student Zack Sieb, one of the finalists, said he is looking forward to the competition.

“It’s not every day you get the opportunity to talk about your work to people outside of your field, so I’m excited for the opportunity to talk about my thesis project to a wide audience,” Sieb said. “Hopefully there’s something helpful from my presentation that people can use in their everyday lives living in Wisconsin.”

Sieb enjoyed participating at the semifinal competition, both for learning about other research happening on campus and because he received feedback on his presentation from the judges. He’ll use that feedback to prepare his talk, “Tick Control by the Pros,” for the final competition.

“I’ve learned that no matter how confident you are in explaining your science, it takes a lot of practice to ensure your message comes out the right way,” he said.

PhD student Kyoungjin Jang-Tucci decided to participate in Three Minute Thesis to work on her public speaking and research communication skills with her talk, “Quiet Injustice in the Workplace: College Interns’ Experiences of Workplace Injustice.” She also enjoyed hearing about other competitor’s research, while also gaining new ideas of how to effectively craft speeches and visual aids.

“I was particularly inspired by [3MT competitor] Rudy Dieudonne’s presentation and the way he used his visual aids to deliver the topic very intuitively. Therefore, I’m planning to improve my slides for the finals so they can communicate the message to the audience more effectively,” Jang-Tucci said.

Members of the campus community and the public are invited to attend the event and vote for their favorite presentation as part of the People’s Choice Award. The top competitors will take home cash prizes from local sponsors. The overall winner will also compete in a regional 3MT with the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools.

The 11 students competing in the UW–Madison 2023-24 3MT finals are:

  • Sanchita Chakraborty, “Was Ross’s PIVOT! Technique really right?”
  • Ray Czerwinski, “‘One at a Time!’ Chemical Conversations with Single Molecules.”
  • Rudy Dieudonne, “Lighting, Noise & Behaviors”
  • Yuchen Gu, “Skin cancer detection at fingertips”
  • Christine Hustmyer, “Building Bridges: How Bacteria Control Their Behaviors”
  • Kyoungjin Jang-Tucci, “Quiet Injustice in the Workplace: College Interns’ Experiences of Workplace Injustice”
  • Kristen Kehl-Floberg, “Getting the Signal: Brain fog and disability in Long COVID”
  • Katie Ryan, “Microbes vs Worms: Searching Nature for New Antiparasitic Compounds”
  • Victoria Salerno, “Do Bees pass down Family Recipes?”
  • Zack Sieb, “Tick Control by the Pros”
  • Ziyan Wu, “Plastic pollutions in the Great Lakes: macro-problem caused by micro-plastics”

How to attend

The Three Minute Thesis final competition takes place Friday, February 16 from 10 am to noon in the DeLuca Forum at the Discovery Building. Registration for audience members is recommended but not required, and attendance is free.