Graduate School to Host 3MT Virtual Final

3mt speaker
will culminate with a final virtual campus final on Thursday, March 18 at 4 p.m.

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 fifth annual Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. 

Organized by the Graduate School’s Office of Professional Development (OPD) the month-long contest will culminate with a final virtual campus final on Thursday, March 18 at 4 p.m. The ten finalists advanced from a preliminary round consisting of 35 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 18 virtual 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.  

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

  • Tiarra Cooper, German and Scandinavian studies 
  • Emma Dauster, neuroscience and behavior 
  • Carey Dougan, chemical engineering 
  • Sanjana Gopalakrishnan, chemistry 
  • Lina Heaster-Ekholm, international students and online learning EPRA / international education 
  • Adam Netzer Zimmer, anthropology 
  • Malavika Prithviraj, microbiology 
  • Soha Rostaminia, computer science 
  • Madeline Tompach, molecular and cellular biology 
  • Amber Vayo, politcal science 

Students worked for many weeks to prepare their presentations, supported by communication skill-building programs from the Office of Professional Development. In the preliminary rounds, students presented their research on a wide array of topics, such as long-term effects of mild brain injuries, America’s consent problem in childbirth and cost-effective multiline anchors for floating offshore wind turbines. 

"The Graduate School is thrilled to be hosting our fifth Three Minute Thesis competition," says dean of the Graduate School Jacqueline Urla. "This year's competition is truly a testament to the innovation and dedication of our graduate students. So many have had their research impacted by COVID-19, but our slate of finalists demonstrate both the quality and societal benefits of graduate student research. The virtual format will allow easy access for the UMass community and beyond, and I am greatly looking forward to the final." The virtual 3MT Final is co-sponsored by the Amherst Jones Library and the public is invited to attend. A link to join the virtual event will be posted on the Graduate School’s 3MT Website about one week before the March 18 final. 

Over the past four years, the 3MT Competition has become a cornerstone event in the Graduate School’s larger effort to strengthen student research communication skills. At this year’s 3MT Final, the Graduate School will also be showcasing the finalists of the Images of Research competition. This contest gives a face to the graduate student and postdoc research that often goes unseen. There are 28 images from 25 departments vying for the “People’s Choice” award of $100. The winner will be chosen live by attendees of the 3MT Virtual Campus Final.