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A thesis in three minutes

UNT doctoral students researching everything from decision science to public administration competed in UNT’s Toulouse Graduate School’s annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition in November. Each contestant condensed years of research into a concise three-minute presentation to a non-specialist audience of 100 people. The competition challenged students to consolidate their research discoveries and convey technical details and abstract ideas using only a single PowerPoint slide and without any additional props or visual aids.

“The Three Minute Thesis competition is an opportunity for graduate students to talk about their research so that people who don’t have a graduate degree can understand their work and the importance of their research,” says Joseph Oppong, academic associate vice provost and academic associate dean for the Toulouse Graduate School. “And they have all the fun of explaining about that research in three minutes.”

Ann Price, doctoral candidate in molecular biology and biochemistry, whose research addresses increasing the amount of food stored in plants, was the first-place winner. She will represent UNT with her presentation of “Manipulation of Lipid Droplet Biogenesis for Enhanced Lipid Storage in Plant Cells or How to Make Fat Plants” at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools 3MT® competition, which is scheduled for March 2020 in Birmingham, Alabama. Sujata Mandal, doctoral student in the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering, was the second-place winner with her presentation “Kenaf Fiber Based Nanobiocomposite for Water Purification.” Joonyoung Lee, doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Psychology, won the people’s choice award based on the audience’s votes for his presentation of “From Out-focusing to In-focusing: Underserved Preschoolers’ Fundamental Motor Skills Competence.” They were awarded $1,000, $500 and $250, respectively.

3MT® was founded at The University of Queensland in Australia in 2008 and has since grown to an international event. More than 600 institutions in more than 60 countries now hold 3MT® competitions. UNT has held the competition annually since 2015. Doctoral students compete in the Fall semester and master’s students compete in the Spring. The spring competition will be held April 18, with preliminaries on April 8 and 10. Students are encouraged to attend a workshop on March 30 to learn more.

“I want to see every student go through this training,” Oppong says. “It’s good for promoting the science that is taking place at our Tier One Research University — the University of North Texas.”

Other doctoral student finalists included:

  • Farinaz Basmechi, sociology
    “Investigating Online Activism Through the Lens of Framing Process Theory”
  • Dhivya Chinnappa, computer science and engineering
    “Extracting Possessions from Text”
  • Jacqkis Davis, chemistry
    “Asymetric Catalysis ‘The Selective Chemistry’”
  • Md Abu Sayeed, computer science and engineering
    “Epileptic Seizure Detection and Control in the IoT”
  • Jie Tao, public administration and management
    “Transforming to Smart City: Working Alone or Collaborating?”
  • Yasemin Tarakci, information technology and decision science
    “How Does Political Environment of a Country Affect Its Economy? An Empirical Study with a Focus on Political Power”
  • Julie Winkler, public administration and management
    “How Do Local Governments Cope with Financial Impacts Following Disasters”
  • Joshua Young, physics
    “Frontiers of Modern Astrophysics, Making Stardust in the Laboratory”