LAWRENCE — Graduate students at the University of Kansas brought their A-games to the Kansas Union for a competition that encouraged them to speak simply and engagingly on their complicated research.
Fifteen student researchers advanced to KU’s 3MT Three Minute Thesis competition finals. Their challenge was to condense years of study and work into polished presentations that each lasted three minutes or less. By the evening’s end three students – Bailey Banach, Shivani Jagannathan Murali and Kyle Apley – emerged with honors and cash prizes.
The 3MT academic research communication competition was developed by the University of Queensland in Australia and was first held in 2008. 3MT competitions have been held at more than 600 universities and in 65 countries. Judges for the competitions are not from scientific or research backgrounds, and scoring, in part, reflects the judges’ views on how well the presenter explained their work to those unfamiliar with the discipline.
This is the second year the competition has been held at KU. The event is sponsored by the Office of Graduate Studies and the KU Society of Sigma Xi.
There are several competition rules the presenters must follow. A handful of those rules lend the competition its signature style. The students can only use one slide in the course of their presentation, and they are prevented from using animation, video other recordings, notecards or props. The research they present must reflect an original research project that is being conducted as part of the student's graduate program. Any presenter who goes a second past 3 minutes is disqualified from the competition.
Banach, a doctoral student in bioengineering, won first place and $500 for her presentation “The World’s Smallest Game of Chess: Engineering Antibody Proteins.” Murali, a doctoral student in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, earned second place and $250 for her presentation “Stopping the Unstoppable: The Fight Against Cancer.” Apley, doctoral student in pharmaceutical chemistry, won the People’s Choice popular vote of the audience and left with a $125 prize for his presentation “Halting a Rogue Immune Response.”
As the top finalist, Banach will represent KU at the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools 3MT competition April 1-3, 2020, in Milwaukee, Wisonsin, with travel, lodging and other expenses paid for by the Office of Graduate Studies.
“This competition is a wonderful opportunity as well as a great tool for our students,” said Audrey Lamb, interim dean of Graduate Studies. “Being able to precisely and accessibly relate one’s work and to explain not just what it is, but why it matters to anyone and everyone, is incredibly important for their careers and the future of research. The 3MT competition gives students an opportunity to test themselves, try out ideas, and practice in a setting where it’s OK to fail without fear and then work to be better. The competition gives the university an opportunity to showcase to each other across campus and to the larger Kansas community what our students do.”
Fifteen finalists presented their talks Nov. 5. The students, their degree programs and their topics were:
- Jennifer Amrein, doctoral student in microbiology, “Gut Bugs: Friend or Foe?”
- Kyle Apley, doctoral student in pharmaceutical chemistry, “Halting a Rogue Immune Response”
- Bailey Banach, doctoral student in bioengineering, “The World's Smallest Game of Chess: Engineering Antibody Proteins”
- Oindrila De, doctoral student in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, “The Glue of Life”
- Max Fairlamb, doctoral student in biochemistry and molecular biology, “Relay for Repair: Passing the Baton”
- Ilvina Gabrielian, master's student in music, “Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony as a Reflection of Military Events in 1941”
- Luke Helker, master’s student in music, “The Sound of Global Warming”
- Pamela Johnson, doctoral student in bioengineering, “Regrowing Cartilage in Joints with Hormones”
- Anna Klompen, doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology, “How did Box Jellyfish become Deadly?”
- Rene Martin, doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology, “The Role of Phylogeny in the Evolution of Body Shape of Lanternfishes”
- Shivani Jagannathan Murali, doctoral student in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, “Stopping the Unstoppable: The Fight Against Cancer”
- Suraj Niraula, doctoral student in pharmacology and toxicology, “Loss of Memory in Alzheimer's Disease”
- Wendy Aquino Nunez, doctoral student in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, “Tauopathies: The Cat and the Yarn Analogy”
- Srivatsan Parthasarathy, doctoral student in microbiology, “Good Bacteria/Bad Bacteria”
- Manvendra Pal Singh, doctoral student in medicinal chemistry, “Do Proteins Prefer Binding to Complex Molecules?”