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"I feel shocked!"

2022's 3 Minute Thesis competition winner Jasmine Mah describes her experience

PhD student Jasmine Mah

Photo credit: Nick Pearce

PhD student Jasmine Mah of the Faculty of Medicine's Medical Research Graduate Program finished in first place at the finals of Dalhousie's 2022 3 Minute Thesis competition on Thursday, April 21. Jasmine's presentation, Social Vulnerability: What It Is, How To Measure It, and Why It Matters, earned the highest score from the judging panel. For finishing in the first place, Jasmine earned a $2,000 prize and a spot representing Dalhousie at the Eastern Regional 3MT competition, which will be hosted virtually by the University of New Brunswick in June.

We caught up with Jasmine the day after the competition to get her thoughts on the experience.

How did you feel after hearing you finished in the first place?

I feel shocked! Public speaking has always and continues to scare me - I was sweating, my hands were cold and clammy, and my heart was palpitating at a dangerous rate.

But stronger than my worries around public speaking is my fear that good quality research is useless if those who will benefit (or those who can enact change) can't understand it. In my research on social vulnerability, I want to convince older adults, caregivers, healthcare professionals and policymakers that social factors beyond medicine are overwhelmingly contributing to poor health outcomes and healthcare inefficiencies. If we want healthier populations and sustainable healthcare we must be willing to tackle “wicked problems” - and the first step is to make these problems understandable.

It is this desire that prompted me to join the 3MT and take advantage of its knowledge dissemination training - and with practice and preparation, sharing my research with public audiences is slowly becoming less formidable.   

Therefore, I encourage all Dalhousie students who feel similarly passionate about their research to try the 3MT next year. The fear of public speaking will diminish with training and the right tools - but you are the only one who can share your research and your solutions.

Below: Jasmine presents via Zoom during the finals of Dalhousie's 2022 3-Minute Thesis competition.

Jasmine Mah presents during the 3 Minute Thesis competition

Is there anyone you would like to thank?

Big congratulations to everyone who participated because there were some amazing presentations yesterday and during the preliminary rounds.

The 3MT experience was a community endeavour for me as I received a great deal of support and assistance - so many thank you’s are necessary!

Thank you to Dalhousie University’s OpenThink Initiative & Dr. Lynne Robinson for introducing me to the 3MT - without her encouragement, I would not have had the 3MT on my radar. Big kudos to the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) for hosting the event, and especially to Dr. Mabel Ho for organizing practical workshops on public speaking, which stimulated hype and kept me accountable. I would also like to thank Kala Hirtle and her colleagues at the Writing Centre - Kala’s time and mentorship offered over several sessions was an invaluable part of the experience. Between the FGS workshops, OpenThink seminars and resources at the Writing Centre, the 3MT was less a competition and instead resembled a master class in scholarly dissemination - highly recommend to any graduate student.

Also a big thank you to my thesis committee (Dr. Melissa Andrew, Dr. Kenneth Rockwood, Dr. Janice Keefe and Professor Susan Stevens), the Medical Research Graduate Program, Geriatric Medicine Research and the Department of Medicine who continue to support my research endeavours. For anyone interested in aging, frailty, social vulnerability and dementia, you will find a friendly and supportive group at Geriatric Medicine Research who will teach you the tools needed to successfully answer your research questions!

And most importantly, I could not have done this without my family and friends, who let me practice incessantly and provide a sympathetic ear and wise counsel to just have fun!

While always supportive, my family has difficulties understanding my research and why it matters. The 3MT was the first time my parents watched me talk about my work in an academic setting and felt they could relate to my research - this is why the 3MT has been one of the most special experiences of my graduate studies.