UO Graduate School to hold Three Minute Thesis competition

Three Minute Thesis was founded by the University of Queensland
Three Minute Thesis was founded by the University of Queensland

UO graduate students will try to pack hundreds of hours of research into a single quick chat when they compete in the final round of the Three Minute Thesis competition this week.

The finish of the second annual competition will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 7, in Room 177 of Lawrence Hall. The spectator-friendly event is open to the public.

Three Minute Thesis pits graduate students against the clock and each other as they try to explain their research in just three minutes using common words and only a single PowerPoint slide. Similar to the elevator pitch competitions common in business schools, Three Minute Thesis also has been described as “speed dating for research.”

The competition will feature 10 UO graduate students selected from two recent preliminary rounds. They represent both doctoral and master’s students in disciplines ranging from philosophy and art history to chemistry and physics.

“This lively competition challenges participants to concisely describe their research in terms that anyone can understand, which is a skill that benefits graduate students in all disciplines and all stages of their careers,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, dean of the UO Graduate School. “The audience is treated to a montage of scholarly research on engaging topics, making this one of the more popular academic events on our campus.”

Finalists will win cash prizes of $500 for first place and $250 for second place and people’s choice, along with the opportunity to advance to the state championship with OHSU, OSU and PSU in Portland. Top finishers at the state level will receive $1,000 for first place and $500 for second place/people's choice.

The event kicks off with a reception offering appetizers and beverages at 6 p.m. followed by the competition at 6:30 p.m

The ten competing finalists are: Grace Aaraj, a master’s candidate in architecture; Evan Baker, a doctoral candidate in geological sciences; Crystal Brown, a doctoral candidate in political science; Dimitra Cupo, a doctoral candidate in sociology; Sarah Hwang, a master’s candidate in art history; Brett Israels, a doctoral candidate in chemistry; Win McLaughlin, a doctoral candidate in geological sciences; Rick Montgomery, a doctoral candidate in physics; Alan Reynolds a doctoral candidate in philosophy; and Ruth Siboni, a doctoral candidate in biology.

A panel of judges will select the first- and second-place winners. A third finalist will be selected by audience vote as the People’s Choice Award winner. Competitors will be evaluated on their communication style, comprehensibility and ability to engage the audience.

The judging panel includes Yvette Alex-Assensoh, vice president for equity and inclusion; Kimberly Espy, vice president for research and innovation and dean of the UO Graduate School; Trond Jacobsen, director of forensics; Linda Konnerth, winner of the 2013 UO Three Minute Thesis competition and recent Ph.D. recipient in linguistics; and Mia Tuan, interim dean of the College of Education.

- by Greg Bolt, Public Affairs Communications