One by one, the graduate students walk to the front of the auditorium, with three minutes – and not a second more – to present their original research findings before an attentive audience and panel of judges.

This can only be UNC-Chapel Hill’s annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition, hosted by The Graduate School and now in its third year. The public is invited to attend the 4 p.m. Nov. 1 event, to be held in the Bioinformatics Building auditorium (room 1131).

Ten master’s and doctoral students from academic disciplines administered by The Graduate School have advanced through the preliminary rounds and now have the opportunity to compete for:

  • First-place prize of $1,000 and the opportunity to represent UNC-Chapel Hill in the 2018 regional competition
  • Second-place prize of $600
  • People’s Choice prize of $400 (audience member votes determine the People’s Choice winner).

“Each year, our finalists impress the judges and audience members with their confidence, strong research findings and stage presence,” said Steve Matson, dean of The Graduate School. “We’re grateful to all graduate students who participate in this event. We always have a strong field of presenters; the diversity of research and the three-minute limit help create a thrilling experience.”

The 10 finalists and their topics are:

  • Daniel Ackermann, a doctoral student in art history, “Making Kentucky: Cultural Confluence and the Decorative Arts of Early Kentucky”
  • Katelyn Arnold, a doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences, “Targeting Destructive Inflammation in Acute Liver Failure with Potential Therapeutic Compounds”
  • Saba Akbar, a master’s student in biomedical and health informatics, “Are Mobile Health Applications Capable of Being Entrusted with Your Health?”
  • James Custer, a doctoral student in chemistry, “Using the Nanoscale to Bring Science Fiction to Life”
  • Aaron Devanathan, a doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences, “HIV Reservoirs: a Step Towards a Cure”
  • Mejs Hasan, a doctoral student in geological sciences, “When They Drained the Swamp: Changes to Mesopotamian Marshes”
  • Nicole Kahn, a doctoral student in maternal and child health, “Sexual Health and Sex Education in Populations with Disabilities”
  • Sonny Kelly, a doctoral student in communication, “Pipelines to Pathways: Empowering Youth Through Embodied Performance”
  • Kayleigh O’Keeffe, a doctoral student in biology, “Microbial Interactions and Their Effects on Disease”
  • Aaron Taggart, a doctoral student in chemistry, “Improving Materials for Capturing and Storing Solar Energy”

The University of Queensland held the first 3MT, in 2008. Since that time, the competition has grown to include more than 600 institutions in 59 countries.

Story by Deb Saine for the Carolina Chronicle and the Graduate School

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