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Sharing ideas: Three Minute Thesis finals a hit

- March 8, 2017

Three Minute Thesis winner Simon Gebremeskel (third from right) poses with second-place winner Loay Jabre (second from right), third-place winner Brittany Greening (third from left) and judges Christopher Duffy, Richard Florizone (first and second from left, respectively) and Fiona Black, far right. (Provided photo)
Three Minute Thesis winner Simon Gebremeskel (third from right) poses with second-place winner Loay Jabre (second from right), third-place winner Brittany Greening (third from left) and judges Christopher Duffy, Richard Florizone (first and second from left, respectively) and Fiona Black, far right. (Provided photo)

“I have the results,” said Dal President Richard Florizone, one of the judges for this year’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) finals at the university. “They have been audited by Pricewaterhouse Cooper.”

Unlike the Oscars, there were no flubs at the 3MT competition held last Thursday in the Tupper Building.

Instead, the 10 graduate students selected to compete in the Dal finals last week presented their respective research topics with ease, only showing their nerves in the few seconds before and after they launched into their carefully condensed theses.

With only three minutes to present research that many of the 10 graduate students have spent years working on, their concerns were understandable. In a typical academic setting, defending a thesis could take up to nine hours, including props, and dozens of presentation slides.

By contrast, the competing graduate students had one static slide, no props, and a timer in front of them counting down the seconds they had left. Oh – they also recited their theses from memory.

Impressed yet?

From fighting cancer to understanding bumblebees


Winner Simon Gebremeskel, whose thesis centered on using the immune system to fight cancer, only decided to enter the 3MT competition hours before his slide was due.

“I thought ‘why not just try it?’” Gebremeskel said of his decision.  

His last-minute decision to paid off. Gebremeskel walked away with a $1000 scholarship and an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the regional 3MT competition at the University of New Brunswick on April 7.

Loay Jabre, who placed second in the competition for his presentation on phytoplankton around Sable Island, said that simply preparing for the event was beneficial for him.

 “It’s a great opportunity to get excited about your research,” said Jabre, who also won the audience choice award.

What is most striking about the 3MT competition is the range of research the audience is exposed to. In only thirty minutes, the 75-person crowd walked away with a newfound appreciation for the bumblebee population, the way ambulances operate in our hospitals, and the way in which our health care policies are created.

An engaging experience


The crux of the competition is about engagement with the audience, and these graduate students delivered. Each of their theses told a story that was relatable for spectators, even those who may never have heard of the topic before.
What do the winners have to say to others who are considering entering the 3MT competition next year?

Brittany Greening, whose thesis covered Patti Smith’s female contribution to rock and roll earned her third place, advises students to “start memorizing early” and give the competition a chance.

“What’s the worst that can happen?” she said. “You spend three minutes talking about your research and then you go off and continue living your life.”



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