Three Minute Thesis

Three Minute Thesis® is an international competition in which graduate students explain their thesis research to a general audience. Students in research-based master’s and PhD programs from all disciplines are eligible to compete. Cash prizes are awarded to the top 3 contestants and the People’s Choice Award recipient.

2020-21 Three Minute Thesis® (3MT®) Finals

The field of over 60 3MT® competitors has narrowed to just nine for the finals. Hear from these accomplished graduate students about their groundbreaking research in a fun and engaging format, and vote for the People’s Choice Award winner at the first ever virtual 3MT® competition.

The virtual UW–Madison 3MT® Finals broadcasted live on Wednesday, Feb. 3. You can watch a recording of the UW–Madison 3MT Finals here or view the embedded video below.

Congratulations to the winners of the 3MT Finals!

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.


Daniel Rakita

Mimicry Control: A Robot-arm Control Interface for All

Lauren Bagwell

Art as Discussion: Engaging with Social Issues in the Classroom

Laura Andrea Prieto

“Active Together”: Physical Activity Program for Adults with Parkinson’s and their Care Partners

Claudia Ramly

Can Nonverbal Feedback Help Students Learn with Visuals?

Chelsea Olson

Online Information Seeking or Cyberstalking: What Rules do Teens Have for When the Line is Crossed?

Jimena González

Studying the Nature of Dark Energy

Jeremy McLaughlin

Tracing Visual Culture in Colonial American Book Printing (1640-1775)

Katie Zarbock

What’s Your Gut Reaction to Alzheimer’s Disease Research? Intersections of the Gut Microbiome and Alzheimer’s Disease

Olivia Harwood

Can Immunotherapy “Cure” HIV? Immunology Hide and Seek (and Destroy)


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

3MT Three Minute Thesis Founded by the University of Queensland logo
GWIS Madison Chapter logo
UW Graduate School Office of Professional Development Logo
Promega logo
Gilson logo
Science is Fun logo


Over 60 UW–Madison graduate students registered to compete in the first virtual 3MT® competition, with 39 advancing to the semifinals in November 2020. Our panel of research communication experts reviewed the videos and selected the top nine competitors to advance to the 3MT® Finals on Feb. 3, 2021 to compete for cash prizes and a chance to represent UW–Madison at the regional 3MT® competition.

Congratulations to the semifinalists in the 2020-21 UW–Madison 3MT® competition:

  • Aspa Amiridis, Hacking Into Proteins
  • Margot Amitrano, Biomaterials for the Maturation of Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes
  • Sai Krishna Bhamidipati, Mice, Myelin and Mystery
  • Lindsey Block, Zika Virus May Impact Pregnancy Sooner than We Thought: Exposure Results in Embryo Death and Compromises Placental Cell Function
  • Madeline Carbery, Let’s CHAT: The Development of the Caregiver Hospital Assessment Tool (CHAT)
  • Bhagyashree Chandrakant, Fast Simulation for 3-D Printing Process
  • Pallavi Chhabra, Teaching and Engaging with Technology for Equity
  • Christopher Dade, The Antibiotic is Dead—Long Live the Anti-Infective!
  • Frankie Frank, Queering Menstruation: Trans and Non-Binary Identity and Body Politics
  • Ramin Ghamkhar, Life Cycle Assessment of Closed-Loop Food Production Systems: Aquaponics
  • Anna Heffron, Antibody Surveillance and Cross-Reactivity Prepares Us for Emergence of the Next Pandemic Pathogen
  • Da-Inn Lee, Learning How the DNA Folds Inside a Cell with Computational Biology
  • Shruthi Magesh, Hammering Out Complex Microbial Interactions Using THOR
  • Hannah Martin, Fighting Melanoma from the Inside: A New Delivery System for Cytokine Therapy Using Biomaterials
  • Hamidreza Nassiri, Did Digital Technologies in Film and Media Increase Equality and Enhance Justice?
  • Divinefavor Osinloye, MUC16: Friend or Foe? Analyzing the Role of MUC16 in Ovarian Cancer Development
  • Rakoon Piyanontalee, Are Bonuses Double-Edged Swords? Examining the Temporal Relationship between Bonus Pay and Turnover
  • Gina Roesch, An Assembly Line Approach to Controlling A Molecule’s Environment
  • Midori Samson, Recentered Music Learning: Operationalizing Social Work Principles as Anti-racist, Anti-oppressive, and Socially Just Music Praxis
  • Andrew Schoen, Better Robot Task Specifications
  • Shweta Shah, Developing a Medication Device Webpage to Improve Safety in Critically-Ill Children
  • Chen Sun, Moments of Language Teaching in the Personal Histories of Teachers
  • Mary Swaney, Sharing is Caring: Vitamin B12 in the Skin Microbiome
  • Fangjing Tu, Why We Fall For Fake News And How We Can Stop Its Harm
  • Taylor Watterson, A Prescription for Safety: A Look Behind-the-Counter at Pharmacist Fatigue
  • Yuhai Xiang, Connecting the Macroscopic Mechanical Properties of 3D Printed Plastic to the Mobility of Molecular Chains
  • Shenwei Zhang, The Sweet Revenge of Bacterial Viruses

For Competitors

  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through speech (timing does not include the 3MT title slide and commences from when the competitor starts speaking, not the start of the video).
  • Videos must meet the following criteria:
    • Filmed on the horizontal;
    • Filmed on a plain background;
    • Filmed from a static position;
    • Filmed from one camera angle;
    • Contain a 3MT title slide;
    • Contain a 3MT PowerPoint slide (top right corner/right side/cut to)
  • A single static slide is permitted in the presentation (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description). This can be visible continuously, or ‘cut to’ (as many times as you like) for a maximum of 1 minute or submitted via email if not included in the presentation.
  • The 3 minute audio must be continuous – no sound edits or breaks.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment and animated backgrounds) are permitted within the recording.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted within the video recording.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  • Submissions via video format (only video link provided to Event Coordinators). Files sent in other formats will not be accepted.
  • Entries submitted for final adjudication to Wildcard or University Final are to be submitted from the School/ Faculty/Institute 3MT Event Coordinator. Competitors should not submit their videos directly to 3MT.

Please note: competitors *will not* be judged on video/ recording quality or editing capabilities (optional inclusions). Judging will focus on the presentation, ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience, and 3MT PowerPoint slide.

Please note: After each competition round competitors have the option to either submit their current presentation or rerecord and submit a new presentation for entry into the next round.

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 trivialise or generalise 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

Watch videos of the winning presentations from the 2019 competition:

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First Place: Anne Jamison, "Costly conflict? Political violence and Foreign Direct Investment"

Second Place: Allison Ludwig, "Toward enhancing organization and defining synaptic connectivity of human stem cell-derived photoreceptors"

Third Place: Mario Cribari, "Putting Enzymes to Work: Using Chemical Biology to Combat Plastic Waste"

People's Choice: Kaivalya Molugu, "Identifying Stem Cells without killing them"