3 Minute Thesis





Doctoral student Patrick Lang wins Three Minute Thesis competition

The University’s 3MT, now in its second year, is sponsored by The Graduate School. It’s an international phenomenon: The University of Queensland developed the event in 2008, and it is now held in more than 350 universities in 18-plus countries around the world.

Ten graduate students from a wide variety of academic disciplines waited to present their research. The auditorium was packed. The timer was set before each presentation: three minutes – maximum. No props, except for one slide per speaker.

This was UNC-Chapel Hill’s second-annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition, held Nov. 1. Patrick Lang, a doctoral student in cell biology and physiology, won the competition and advances to the March 2017 regional competition in Annapolis, MD.

Lang, whose topic was “Improving the treatment of childhood brain cancer,” received a plaque and $1,000, as well as travel expenses to the regionals.

Shannon Blakey, a doctoral student in psychology and neuroscience, was the second-place winner and received a plaque and $600. Her topic was “The harm of just in case: the paradoxical effect of safety aids on anxiety.” Nancy Quick, a doctoral student in speech and hearing sciences, was the people’s choice winner (selected by the audience) and received a plaque and $400. Her topic was “A multi-linguistic analysis of spelling errors.”

A panel of judges assessed finalists on criteria related to comprehension, content, engagement and communication.

2016 Winners included:

  • First Place: Patrick Lang (cell biology and physiology,) – Improving the treatment of childhood brain cancer
  • Second Place: Shannon Blakey (psychology and neuroscience) – The harm of just in case: the paradoxical effect of safety aids on anxiety
  • People’s Choice: Nancy Quick (speech and hearing sciences) – A multi-linguistic analysis of spelling errors

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Rules and Eligibility

Judging Criteria
At every level 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 & Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement & Communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?