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SBU Three Minute Thesis
Competition 2021

Watch the Final Round livestream here on
April 28, 2021 from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm!

If it's 4:00 pm and you don't see the livestream here, please refresh the webpage.


Vote here for the People's Choice Award

- We'll be accepting votes only during the main event, on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, after all 8 finalist talks have been delivered.
- Votes will be accepted only for 10 minutes!
- Stay tuned to the livestream on Wednesday, April 28 to learn when you can cast your vote.

Vote here for 3MT People's Choice Award


Pictures of eight 3MT finalists


See Round 1 Videos Now! 



SBU 3MT logo Stony Brook celebrates our students' exciting PhD research with the Three Minute Thesis competition.

This year, Round 1 of the competition will be evaluated based on recorded videos from our competitors. The top eight finalists then will proceed to the final Round 2, which will be held live via Zoom on on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Best talk winners will be announced at the close of the event.


  • SBU Alumni Association
  • Graduate Student Organization
  • Graduate School, and
  • Career Center.

3MT is a model developed by the University of Queensland.

Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT® for short, is a spoken word thesis competition. 3MT is an opportunity for SBU graduate students to present their dissertation research findings to a general audience in THREE MINUTES with only one PowerPoint slide. The goal is for students to engage all their communication skills to make their research vivid and engaging while emphasizing its key point without technical terminology or field-specific jargon.

Mallesh Desari 3MT 2020 presentationGraduate students who compete will receive specialized coaching. While 3MT is a competition, SBU emphasizes the professional development derived from participating in small-group research communication coaching.  Coaching uses a cohort approach that encourages peer feedback and support.

Prizes will be awarded. The SBU Alumni Association kindly sponsors prizes for the best talks.



Welcome & Opening Remarks
Kathleen Flint Ehm, Assistant Dean, Graduate & Postdoctoral Initiatives, Graduate School
Paul Goldbart,  Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
4:15-4:50pm (approx)
Finalist Talks (in presentation order)
Moderator: Alexia Crosby, PhD student, Chemistry, and Vice President, Graduate Student Organization

Vidushi Sharma, Physics and Astronomy
Learning to Thrive with Dihydrogen Monoxide

Amanda Russo, Integrative Neuroscience, Psychology
Getting Rid of Traumatic Memories

Zared Shawver, Cognitive Science, Psychology
Can Mysteries Change How You Think?

Cong Liu, Chemistry
Speed Up Searching for Needles in a Haystack

Chun-Hao Pan, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Targeting Keratin 17 in Pancreatic Cancer: A Therapeutic Window Opens

Sara Santos, English
Living in the End of the World

Xiaoning Wu, Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
Ocean Memories of Hurricanes

Shruti Iyer, Genetics
Solving Genetic Puzzles to Understand Cancer
Acknowledgements & Q&A
Alfreda James, Assistant Director, Graduate Career Services, Career Center
Award Announcement
Robert deBrauwere, President of the Board, Alumni Association

Agenda subject to change.


First Name Last Name Graduate Program Thesis Advisor Title & Round 1 Videos
QINGQING CAO Computer Science Aruna Balasubramanian and Niranjan Balasubramanian Answering Questions in a Faster and Greener Way
CHUANKAI CHEN Genetics Richard Lin Fighting Pancreatic Cancer: A Race Against Time
CAITLIN DUFFY English Susan Scheckel America: Land of the Free, Home of the Gothic
FIRMAN FIRMANSYAH Technology, Policy, and Innovation Todd L. Pittinsky Why Are Your Friends Usually Like You?
LINGQING GAN Electrical Engineering Petar M. Djuric Discovering Hidden Networks: Who is Influencing Who?
JON HEGGESTAD English Elyse Graham Imagining a Family for Everyone
MEGAN HINES Art History and Criticism Katy Siegel The Art of Biotechnology: Seeing the Biotech Revolution through the Eyes of Artists
YIXIN HU Molecular and Cellular Biology Bruce Stillman How DNA Replication Machinery and Gene Silencing System Evolve Together?
SHRUTI IYER Genetics W. Richard McCombie Solving Genetic Puzzles to Understand Cancer
CONG LIU Chemistry Ken Dill Speed Up Searching for Needles in a Haystack
ZAHRA MALEKI SHAHRAKI Civil Engineering Xinwei Mao Wastewater Treatment in Your Backyard
TAYLOR MEDWIG-KINNEY Genetics David Matus What Drives Cells to Invade?
ADELLE MOLINA Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Janet Nye The Impact of Climate Change on New York Blue Crab Populations: A Warmer and Crabbier Future
KEVIN MURPHY History Jennifer Anderson Promises and Power in Early America
NATALIA NAVAS Sociology Daniel Levy How People Change Politics from Abroad
CHUN-HAO PAN Molecular and Cellular Biology Kenneth Shroyer and Luisa Escobar-Hoyos Targeting Keratin 17 in Pancreatic Cancer: A Therapeutic Window Opens
RACHEL PERLMAN Interdepartmental Doctoral Program In Anthropological Sciences Andreas Koenig and Amy Lu Why Grass-Eating Monkeys Like “Potatoes” Too
CHARUTA PETHE Computer Science Steve Skiena Can AI Break Down a Story into Meaningful Pieces?
DREW ROSEN Science Education Angela Kelly Learning Alone Together
AMANDA RUSSO Integrative Neuroscience, Psychology Ryan Parsons Getting Rid of Traumatic Memories
SARA SANTOS English Justin Johnston Living in the End of the World
VIDUSHI SHARMA Physics Marivi Fernandez-Serra Learning to Thrive with Dihydrogen Monoxide
ZARED SHAWVER Cognitive Science, Psychology Richard Gerrig Can Mysteries Change How You Think?
XIAONING WU Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Kevin Reed and Christopher Wolfe Ocean Memories of Hurricanes
CHENYU ZHOU Materials Science Mingzhao Liu Water to Fuel: Fiction or Fact?
YICONG ZHU Applied Mathematics and Statistics Yuefan Deng Defeating the Number 1 Killer in the World


Eligibility: Competitors must be SBU graduate students who have advanced to candidacy (G5 or equivalent), and their research must be at a stage where findings, preliminary conclusions, and broader impact can be discussed. Students may be in any disciplinary field. Those in the Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences are particularly encouraged to participate. Students must affirm that their graduate advisor supports presentation of their research during speaker sign up.

All speakers must commit to participating in the 3 training sessions. *

Presentation Guidelines: Talks will be three minutes long and may include only one PowerPoint slide. Speakers should craft a talk that distills the heart of their research for a general audience who may not be specialists, in the style of a TED talk. Speakers will receive individualized coaching on their presentation from research communication experts. See the official rules for more information. 

Because of the continuing pandemic, 3MT 2021 will have Round 1 judged based on recordings of the talks recorded through Zoom by our event organizers. The top eight finalists will then present their talk via a live Zoom presentation on April 28th for the final Round 2.

Training Sessions: The first session will provide an overview of best practices for honing one's message for a general audience. In the second and third sessions, speakers will receive coaching on their individual talks in small groups. Speakers may indicate a preference for their small-group sessions, and organizers will do their best to accommodate everyone's busy schedules. Speakers are expected to attend all three sessions. See training dates and times below. Coaching takes place in small groups where peer feedback and support is encouraged while students workshop their draft presentations.

Speaker Sign Up Deadline: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3, 2021

Speaker Training Dates: (Speakers are expected to commit to all three sessions *)

  • Session 1: * Plenary Training: Your introduction to the Alda Center Method, Wed, March 10, 3:00-5:00 pm
  • Session 2: Coaching 1: Individualized coaching on your draft 3MT talk. You will be assigned to one of four times:
    • Wednesday, March 24, 3:00-5:00 pm, OR
    • Thursday, March 25, 10:00 am-12:00 pm, OR
    • Thursday, March 25, 12:30-2:30 pm, OR
    • Thursday, March 25, 3:00-5:00 pm.
  • Session 3: Coaching 2: Individualized coaching on your almost-final 3MT talk. You will be assigned to one of four times:
    • Wednesday, April 7, 3:00-5:00 pm, OR
    • Thursday, April 8, 10:00 am-12:00 pm, OR
    • Thursday, April 8, 12:30-2:30 pm, OR
    • Thursday, April 8, 3:00-5:00 pm.

You can indicate a preference for coaching sessions in the sign up form below. Please try to save the coaching dates on your calendar until you know you are selected.

*Students who have already taken JRN 501  may opt out of Session 1.


Speaker sign-up deadline: Wednesday, March 3, 2021

  1. Go to the Sign Up form and enter your contact info.

    Register Here
  2. Affirm that your graduate advisor supports you presenting your work in the 3MT competition.
  3. Agree to participate in three training sessions to be held on March 10 * AND March 24or25 AND April 7or8. You can indicate a preference of two small-group coaching times for Sessions 2 & 3 ( see times above).
  4. After submission, you will receive confirmation on whether you have been selected to compete. At that time, we will request a title from selected speakers.

Competitor Selection: Organizers aim to accommodate as many eligible students as want to compete, but competitor slots nevertheless are limited. Competitor selection, if necessary, will take into account coaching date availability, disciplinary and demographic balance.


Judging: The talks will be evaluated by a panel of judges from a range of backgrounds and disciplines for how well the speaker engages a general audience of non-specialists and can convey the excitement and innovation of their research without jargon or distortion. See the full judging criteria.

Prizes: Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, plus a People's Choice award selected by the audience. Prizes are generously sponsored by the SBU Alumni Association.

1st: $1000
2nd: $700
3rd: $500
People's Choice: $300


Contact Dr. Kathleen Flint Ehm, Assistant Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Initiatives (kathleen.ehm at