3MT competition a learning opportunity for graduate students
Presenting your research to a non-academic audience in just three minutes may not be easy, but past participants have seen the benefits first-hand
Thousands of graduate students from all around the world have taken part in Three-Minute Thesis (3MT®) competitions since the inaugural competition at the University of Queensland in 2008. The competition requires graduate students in research-based programs to communicate what their research is about, and why it’s important, in just three minutes.
Since 2017, 65 AU graduate students have taken part in the AU 3MT® competition, hosted by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
Those who have taken on the challenge have said the experience not only helped them learn how to communicate their research succinctly, it improved their understanding of the significance of their work and how to apply that knowledge to improving their career prospects.
Discover what past winners of the AU 3MT® competition have said about the experience!
Karli Jahn, 2022 AU 3MT winner
Karli Jahn won AU’s 2022 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition with her presentation titled “Fat is not a bad word: exploring weight stigma and its effects on treatment outcomes in counselling interventions.”
The Master of Counselling student began her presentation by stating, “What if I told you everything we know about weight and health cannot be backed up by the most recent evidence-based research?”
Jahn wowed the audience and judges despite being very sick with COVID-19.
“If you don’t have the curves in the right places, a flat stomach, or don’t look borderline starving, you’re fat. I’m trying to use that as a neutral descriptor because I think if we start using it in a way that is broader, we can start making the changes that need to happen.”
Jiun-yi Zullo, 2021 AU 3MT® winner
Jiun-yi Zullo (Master of Nursing ’21) won the 2021 competition with her thesis about emergency nurses’ experiences of occupational disappointment—the feeling of disheartenment with career choice resulting from prevalent and unaddressed verbal abuse from patients and/or their visitors. It was inspired by her own experiences working as an emergency room nurse in Ontario at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said she was stunned by the win and credited the ongoing support of her thesis supervisor for encouraging her to pursue her research topic. As for the competition itself, she said it was helpful to have an opportunity to present among her peers, rather than in a more intimidating environment with senior researchers.
“I saw it as a way of understanding and connecting with other like-minded students, to see research at other levels and different stages,” she said. “When you watch other people present, you’re able to take tips about how to improve your own presentation.”
Brittany Hollett, 2020 AU 3MT® winner
Brittany Hollett, a current Master of Nursing student, likewise drew on her experience working as a nurse as she developed her thesis topic. Her work focuses on how families of children in the pediatric intensive-care unit experience added stressors that require additional support when their child is near the end of their life.
She said the success she experienced during the competition, and in fact the whole process of the competition itself, helped reinforce her passion for the work and research she does, and helped fuel her as she completed her work.
“No matter what your background is with public speaking, or how far you are with your thesis, it is such a great experience,” she said. “Competing in the 3MT® really draws on your passion and that will help fuel you into beginning your thesis and culminates in that passion and momentum you need when writing it.”
Dustin Purnell, 2019 AU 3MT® winner
Dustin Purnell (Master of Counselling ’19) won the 2019 AU competition with his presentation based on a simple question: What would it be like for a mental-health counsellor to work with a client who is using child pornography?
This question, among others, guided work on his thesis, Ethical Tensions in Sex Addiction Counselling. His work explored the kind of tensions a counsellor might feel in counselling patients whose behaviours and attitudes might be drastically at odds with their own.
“I was pretty hesitant to enter the competition and waited until the last minute to actually register. I’m glad a few people from FGS kept encouraging me to enter,” he said. “My participation in 3MT® is going to be a fantastic piece to add to my resume.”