Left to right: FASS Associate Dean Sean Zwagerman, 3MT winners Noortje de Weers and Kayla Phillips, and judges Bettina Cenerelli, Taylor Morphett and Bryan Kinney

Research, Students, Graduate students

Graduate students present their theses in three minutes or less at first FASS 3MT heat

March 18, 2019

Earlier this month, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) hosted its first Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) faculty heat. The competition was one of the event highlights of FASScelerate, a one-day graduate student career and networking event, on March 1. 

Originating in Australia, 3MT competitions challenge students to explain their research in three minutes or less using the aid of only one slide. The competitions are designed to help graduate students enhance their presentation skills, and their ability to engage with the general public about their research in a lively manner without the academic jargon. This shifts the notion that not all academic presentations are boring — they can actually be a fun and enlightening experience.

Andrea Smit, a psychology PhD student, wowed the judges and took home the grand prize. This victory is made sweeter by the fact that she has bested her own record, having had received second place in an open heat in 2013, with her master's degree research. Her winning presentation summarized her research looking at the relationship between electric light and sleep on the Tanna Island community in Vanuatu. 

Noortje de Weers from the Department of Linguistics not only won second place, she was also voted the People's Choice winner by the audience. Her research examining the relationship between ethnicity and speech perception generated a lot of interest among the crowd, understandable since the topic is especially relevant in multicultural Vancouver.

Rounding up the competition in third place was Kayla Phillips, a political science master's student who is in the final stages of completing her degree. Kayla's thesis examined the relationship between female political representation and Green Party electoral success.  

Andrea and Noortje will be moving forward to the SFU 3MT Finals on March 19. The winner of SFU's heat will represent SFU at the Western Regional 3MT competition later in April at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George.