Three Minute Thesis

Can you explain your research in 3 minutes? Find out by participating in the 2021-22 3MT® competition! 3MT® is an international research communication competition in which graduate students explain their research to a general audience. Students in research-based master’s and PhD programs from all disciplines are eligible to compete, and prizes will be awarded to the winners.

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2021-2022 Competition

Participants first competed in divisional semi-final competitions, hosted on October 28 and November 3.

The top contestants from the semifinals competed in the Three Minute Thesis® final competition on February 18, 2022. The top contestants won cash prizes and the first-place winner also won the chance to represent UW–Madison at the regional competition.

Semifinals Winners

Rows of audience members sit and listen to a presenter who stands at a podium in the background. There is a projection screen next to them.
Chemical and Biological Engineering PhD student Michael Jindra presents a talk at the Three Minute Thesis semifinals on October 28, 2021. Jindra is one of 11 competitors to advance to the final competition on Friday, February 18, 2022. (Photo by Todd Brown/UW-Madison Media Solutions for the Graduate School)

Bethany Dado-Senn, Dairy Science, “It’s Getting Hot in Here…So Time to Cool Your Cows”

Marissa DiPiero, Neuroscience, “Building Bridges in the Brain”

Amy Enright, Microbiology, “Strategies of a Bacteria Therapist”

José Luis Garrido Rivera, Second Language Acquisition, “The Role of Semantic Similarity in L2 Vocabulary Learning”

Michael Jindra, Chemical and Biological Engineering, “Can bacteria replace the oil palm?”

Melina Knabe, Educational Psychology, “Which bilingual book is best for your child?”

Osaretin Olurotimi, Agricultural and Applied Economics, “The Effect of Conflict on Learning Outcomes: Evidence from East Africa”

Vaidehi Patil, Biomedical Engineering, “Battle of the Sexes: Calcific Aortic Valve Disease (CAVD)”

Ajay Singh, Cellular and Molecular Biology, “Magnetic Resonance Phenotyping”

Nishant Verma, Biomedical Engineering, “Precise Targeting of Bioelectronic Medicine”

Cecilia Vollbrecht, Chemistry, “Picking the Molecules to Get the Job Done Best”


Three Minute Thesis® is presented by The Madison Chapter of Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) and the Graduate School Office of Professional Development. Prizes are sponsored by Promega, Gilson, and Science is Fun in the Lab of Shakhashiri.

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GWIS Madison Chapter logo
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What to expect when you compete in the 3MT:

  • Preparation (4 to 7 hours)
    • Read the rules, requirements, and judging criteria
    • Browse the resources in the Canvas site, which you’ll receive access to after registering
    • View example presentations
    • Attend or watch the video of the the Writing Center workshop “You’re Researching What? Crafting a 3-Minute Research Talk that Appeals to the Public” – available in Canvas (optional but encouraged)
    • Meet with a DesignLab consultant (optional but encouraged)
    • Create your slide, develop your presentation, and practice
  • Competition (2 to 5 hours)
    • Divisional semi-finals
    • Finals

Additionally, the winner of the finals will travel to Milwaukee to represent UW–Madison at the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) regional 3MT® competition April 6-8, 2022.

For Competitors

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) is permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the judging panel is final.

At every level of the competition each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

Comprehension and content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a nonspecialist audience?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement and communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?

Past Competitions

Winners of the 2020-21 competition were:

1st Place: Claudia Ramly
2nd Place: Olivia Harwood
3rd Place: Katie Zarbock
People’s Choice Award: Lauren Bagwell

Watch their presentations below or on our YouTube channel.

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First Place: Claudia Ramly

Second Place: Olivia Harwood

Third Place: Katie Zarbock

People's Choice Award: Lauren Bagwell

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. Learn more about the 3MT® at