180 seconds to win

Portland State’s second annual Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) registration closes April 10. The competition is an opportunity for graduate students to share their research with the public, win cash prizes and advance to state championships by putting together a three minute presentation.

“It’s a fun, fast-paced event. There’s a real diversity in terms of the topics students are speaking on,” said Dean of Graduate Studies Margaret Everett. “[You] get a real sense of the range of topics, business and the sciences, humanities, social sciences; it’s all represented.”
3MT is open to masters or doctoral students conducting research for a culminating project, thesis or dissertation.

The competition follows the guidelines laid out by the University of Queensland in Australia, where 3MT originated. Students present their research in under three minutes without props except for a single PowerPoint slide.

Chemistry student Adriana Bon Ramos won last year’s People’s Choice Award for her research on the behavior of proteins. She said that the experience was important for learning how to engage a general audience with her research.

“As a graduate student, I spend most of my day focused on specific experiments, and it is sometimes difficult to explain to others what my research is all about and why it is important,” Ramos said. “The elevator pitch, as it is often called, is nowadays a fundamental part of interviews. This competition is the perfect opportunity to give this type of speech to a non-specialist audience and receive immediate feedback,” she added.

According to Everett, who also organized the event, judges for the upcoming competition will include former PSU president Judith Ramaley, Vice President of Research and Strategic Partnerships at PSU Jonathan Fink, and a variety of members of the community from government, communications, media and the private sector.

The first-place winner will receive $500. The runner up and People’s Choice Award winners will each receive $250. The three PSU winners will advance to state championships and compete against other graduate students statewide.

Students will vote for the winner of the People’s Choice Award by text message.
Organizers hope that the competition will continue to be an annual event that showcases the diversity of research being done by students at PSU.

One of last year’s judges of 3MT, Mark Sytsma, said attending the event was a great way to find out about other students’ research.

“It is a good thing for the grad student community as a whole to hear what is going on in departments and colleges across the university,” Sytsma said. “[T]his is one of the few opportunities to hear about something novel and new that could stimulate some new thinking on the listener’s part.”

The competition is free and open to the public and will take place May 8, 4–6:30 p.m. at the Loacker Studio in Lincoln Hall 355. More information can be found atpdx.edu/ogs/3mt.