Three-Minute Thesis

Three minutes to share your work

Three Minute Thesis returns, this year with an accompanying 180-second challenge

By Teshu Agarwal

The Three Minute Thesis competition originated at the University of Queensland in 2008 to challenge thesis-based graduate students to present their their research in just three minutes to a “non-specialist audience.” After three years here at TRU, this year’s 3MT was accompanied by a 180-second research challenge amongst faculty, as well.

After 18 presentations by business, science and education students, Sarah Whitehouse from the environmental science master’s program was chosen to be the winner. The decision was deliberated by Kamloops MP Cathy McLeod, city councillor Arjun Singh, and Cheryl Blackwell, program director and morning show host for the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.

Other winners included environment science student, Janelle Paulson, who presented her thesis on drying temperate grasslands in the southern B.C. interior, and Medina Jeff-Zanni, who took the people’s choice award.

Whitehouse has a background in environmental chemistry and environmental economics and sustainable development. Her presentation was “Biosolids: Where do we go from here?”

“I wanted to tackle something that would approach sustainability from a broad perspective, where you not only include the science behind it but also including the social aspects,” Whitehouse  said.

She considered her biggest challenge to get up on stage and talk in front of people. But said that confidence helped her face the anxiety of public speaking.

Whitehouse received a cash prize and will advance to the Western Canadian finals. She also sat on the panel of judges for the 180-second research challenge, which was an opportunity for faculty to present their research in under three minutes. The winner for this competition was Nina Johnson (TRU’s English and modern languages department).

Johnson wants to de-stress university students through her research. Her presentation was titled “Labyrinths: Interdisciplinary benefits of labyrinths including stress reduction and creativity development.”

Johnson said that condensing an entire research project into a three-minute presentation was her biggest challenge, but after many practice sessions and lots of trimming she managed to do it.

“The irony is that I am an advocate for slow education and slow pedagogy, so the idea of putting something together in a rapid fire three-minute presentation is actually counter-intuitive to what I do with mindfulness,” Johnson said.