Three minute thesis
Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a global competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia.
What is the 3MT?
The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students. 3MT cultivates graduate researchers’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills and the capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
Initial rounds of the competition are organised by Schools Faculties and Institutes. The finalists from each area will go through into the University final.
2023 Grand Final
The Deakin University Three Minute Thesis (3MT) and Visualise Your Thesis (VYT) Grand Final event was held on Thursday 3 August at the Burwood Campus and provided and entertaining afternoon that showcased our brilliant research students competing to be the best at research communication.
Deakin 2023 3MT Winner
Agnes Ruramai Mukurumbira (Faculty of Health)
Investigation of essential oils as antimicrobials for application in food packaging.
A PhD candidate with Deakin’s CASS Food Research Centre, Ms Mukurumbira’s research focuses on what the future of food packaging could look like, asking us to imagine packaging that is not only sustainable and biodegradable but also able to kill bacteria and fungi growing on food. These food microbes are responsible for over 1.3 billion tonnes in food waste and 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually.
Ms Mukurumbira is developing a prototype for just such an antimicrobial packaging, using the native Australian essential oils Tasmanian mountain pepper and lemon myrtle. Her first study revealed these essential oils are potent antimicrobials against common food spoilage and pathogenic bacteria and fungi and even more effective than tea tree oil, historically used as an antimicrobial.
The next step was to address the oils’ chemical and physical instability using a technique called encapsulation, which stabilises the oils, allows controlled release and enhances their antimicrobial activity.
Ms Mukurumbira is now working on integrating the encapsulated essential oils into biodegradable plastic formulations to produce packaging that will release the essential oils, killing bacteria and fungi growing on food and extending product shelf life.
Ms Mukurumbira now moves onto the next stage of the international 3MT® competition – the 2023 Asia-Pacific 3MT Semi-Final Showcase on 25 September.
Deakin 2023 3MT Runner-up and People’s Choice Award winner
Kira Morgan Hughes (Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment)
A breath of fresh air: reducing the risk of thunderstorm asthma.
A Research Scientist and Site Coordinator for Melbourne Pollen and Deakin AIRwatch, Ms Hughes is working to develop modernised technology to improve our ability to detect airborne allergens and provide better warning systems for thunderstorm asthma.
Current technology is outdated, slow and requires that samples be manually analysed. Ms Hughes has constructed a sensor based on a tiny electrode that works as a miniature scale specifically built to weigh pollen or spores. Instead of using outdated machines that take 24 hours and require manual work, this sensor will be able to automatically detect allergens in less than an hour. This will not only significantly shorten detection time but will provide a more effective real-time warning system for thunderstorm asthma that could help to save lives. In addition, because the sensors are so small, eventually Ms Hughes hopes to develop a portable version that people could wear to detect rising allergen levels around them.
The winners of the 3MT Faculty and Institute finals take home Deakin Research prizes of $650 for the winners and $350 for the runners-up of the four Faculties and the Institute for Frontier Materials finals.
The Deakin winner receives $3000, with $2000 going to the runner-up and $500 going to the People's Choice awarded by the audience.
The Asia-Pacific winner will receive a $5000 research grant.
Why do it?
We are sure many of you have learned by now, it is always handy to be prepared when faced with the inevitable "so what is your thesis about?" questions from curious family and friends (who usually want the three-minute version, not the extended one). More particularly, you might get asked the same question in a future job interview!
The 3MT is an invaluable opportunity to practise your communication skills in a supportive environment and it gives you the chance to distil the essence of your research into a succinct and engaging sound bite. Overall, past participants have reported several benefits of participating in the 3MT competition including increased recognition of the research, more networking opportunities with peers, and positive impact on structuring their thesis.
In addition, participation in 3MT can be included in your Australian Higher Education Graduate Statement as an AHEGS-worthy training through your Individual Learning Plan. AHEGS is a standardised format for Australian Higher Education qualifications that enables the qualifications to be recognised and renowned throughout the world. You need your supervisor approval to add this competition to your ILP.
And of course, there will be some extremely generous prizes as mentioned above.
Who is eligible to enter?
Active PhD and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone (including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels, including the Asia-Pacific 3MT competition. Graduates are not eligible.
- Competitors must be active PhD candidates and must have successfully completed confirmation of candidature.
- Previous first-place winners of the Deakin 3MT event are NOT eligible to enter again.
- Students enrolled in any of the following programs are not eligible to enter: Masters (MPhil and coursework) and Professional Doctorate (less than 2/3 research).
At each stage 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
- Presentation provided clear background and significance to the research question.
- Presentation provided clear positionality* of the presenter to the research and research approach.
- Presentation clearly described the research strategy/design and the results/findings of the research.
- Presentation clearly described the conclusions, outcomes and impact of the research.
Engagement and communication
- The oration was delivered clearly, and the language was appropriate for a non-specialist audience.
- The PowerPoint slide was well-defined and enhanced the presentation.
- The presenter conveyed enthusiasm for their research and captured and maintained the audience’s attention.
*Positionality is the social and political context that creates your identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status. Positionality also describes how your identity influences, and potentially biases, your understanding of and outlook on the world.
How to enter
You must enter your School/Faculty/Institute heats to participate in the Deakin Finals. Please register your interest by contacting your Faculty/Institute Coordinator.
- Health: email@example.com
- SEBE: SEBE-PhD@deakin.edu.au;
- Business and Law: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Arts and Education: email@example.com
- IFM: firstname.lastname@example.org
- A2I2: Trang Tran email@example.com
- IISRI: Burhan Khan firstname.lastname@example.org