Graduate School to Hold Third Annual Three-Minute Thesis Competition

Student participates in Three Minute Thesis contest

Ten graduate students will distill their doctoral or master’s research into compelling three-minute oral presentations as they contend for $2,500 in prize money during the concluding stages of the university’s third annual Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition.

Organized by the Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development (OPD), the month-long contest will culminate with two final events: A campus-based competition will take place on Friday, March 1, at 1 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium while a community-based competition will be held on Saturday, March 23, at 3 p.m. in Amherst’s Jones Library.

The 10 finalists advanced from a preliminary round consisting of 40 students representing 26 academic programs. To reach the finals, they garnered top scores based on their ability to succinctly explain the significance of their research to a general audience.

At the March 1 Campus Center event, a panel of judges will determine the 3MT competition’s overall champion and runner-up, who will win a $1,000 first prize and a $500 second prize respectively. A prize of $500 will also be awarded to the audience’s choice for best speaker. On March 23, at the Jones Library, a prize of $500 will again be awarded based on an audience vote.

The 10 students competing in this year’s 3MT Finals are:

  • Louis Colaruotolo, food science
  • Hayley Cotter, English
  • Riddha Das, chemistry
  • Lian Guo, organismic and evolutionary biology
  • Matthew Lebovich, chemical engineering
  • Karl Lyn, higher education
  • Christopher Moore, kinesiology
  • Destenie Nock, industrial engineering
  • Doug Pinckney, physics
  • Yolanda Wiggins, sociology

Under the guidance of Dr. Heidi Bauer-Clapp, assistant director of the Office of Professional Development, students worked for many weeks to prepare their presentations. In the preliminary rounds students presented their research on a wide array of topics, such as improving biodegradable food packages, surveillance in predominantly African American schools, enhancing the detection of dark matter in the universe and creating drug delivery systems to improve cancer treatment. 

“The Three-Minute Thesis Competition provides an excellent showcase for graduate student research at UMass Amherst,” says Barbara Krauthamer, dean of the Graduate School. “Students gave outstanding presentations in the first round and I am greatly looking forward to the finals. As in prior years, this event should prove informative, engaging and fun.”

Over the past three years, the 3MT Competition has become a cornerstone event in the Graduate School’s larger effort to strengthen student research communication skills. This year, the Graduate School expanded its 3MT by adding a community-based final round in partnership with the Jones Library.

“The expansion of this year’s 3MT finals arises in part from a desire to help our students build the necessary skills to connect with many different kinds of audiences,” says Bauer-Clapp. “This new relationship with a classic public institution like the Jones Library provides an opportunity for students to share their excitement about research with the broader community in an engaging and accessible manner.”