UMN CEHD Students Present at the Three-Minute Thesis Competition

Conducting high-level research is challenging, but it was only the first step for eight Ph.D. candidates from the University of Minnesota CEHD. The second step may have been even more challenging: simplifying complex work – sometimes years’ worth of it – into a three-minute presentation before people with limited knowledge of the subject.

To present in the Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition at the McNamara Alumni Center, each contestant had to boil down their thesis, several of which consisted of around 80,000 words, into a 180-second presentation. They were allowed one unanimated PowerPoint slide each, but had little more than their academic wits to support them in conveying advanced research topics before a lay audience and panel of judges, with cash rewards awaiting the most effective presentations. The event proved to be one of the highlights of CEHD’s annual Research Day event.

The 3MT has its roots in Australia, where 160 students competed in the first event at the University of Queensland in 2008. 3MT Competitions are now hosted at more than 170 universities in more than 18 countries worldwide.

At CEHD, students from a variety of disciplines, including kinesiology, family social science, child development and more, showcased the impact of their research on daily life. Judges Keith Mayes, Margie Soran and R.T. Rybak evaluated each contestant for the $500 first place and $250 runner-up awards while the audience awarded another $250 to the people’s choice winner.

From the Institute of Child Development, Michelle Brown’s presentation on the ‘domino effect’ of child maltreatment, and how the influence of just one mentor can make a difference, earned her first place:

Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development student Anna Kaiper brought in the runner-up prize with her hands-on research of the English language’s influence on the cultural identities of South African domestic workers:

Leonard Taylor’s impassioned portrayal of student success in educational institutions – which he characterized with a ‘square peg, round hole’ analogy – earned the audience’s popular vote:

The 3MT was a showcase of the immense talent of CEHD students, the work they’re involved in and how their research is impacting communities around the world. It’s CEHD’s intent to host 3MT next year and in the future, demonstrating how students and faculty are improving lives through active academic research and community engagement.

Watch each of the eight CEHD 3MT presentations in high definition on YouTube by clicking here

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