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SBU Three Minute Thesis Competition 2017

3MT logo Stony Brook will celebrate our students' exciting PhD research with its  second Three Minute Thesis. Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT ® for short, 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. Three Minute Thesis is an international event founded at the University of Queensland. The goal is for students to engage all their communication skills to make their research vivid and engaging while emphasizing its key point without jargon. 

Graduate students who compete will receive specialized coaching. Speakers will work with coaches from the  Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. The nationally recognized Alda Center at Stony Brook works with researchers to help them communicate more effectively with the public, the media and others outside their own specialty. Selection as a speaker is a unique professional development opportunity that will enhance any student's skills and CV.

Prizes will be awarded. A panel of judges will evaluate the talks for how well they achieve 3MT's judging criteria. See an overview of SBU 3MT 2014, as well as the winning talks from 1st place Katarzyna Sawicka and Runner Up Nadia Jaber.  

Location:  Wang Center Lecture Halls 1 & 2

Date:    Friday, March 31, 2017

Time: 10:00 am—2:00 pm 

This is event is free and open to the public.

Sponsors: Graduate Student Organization, Office for the Integration of Research, Education, and Professional Development, the Career Center, the Center for Inclusive Education, the Graduate Career Association, and the Alumni Association


1st Place: Zoya Vallari

2nd Place: Rajapillai Pillai 

3rd Place: Elizabeth Trimber

People's Choice: Pratik Kumar, Elizabeth Trimber, Zoya Vallari

See photos from the event at GSO's Facebook page

See the talks themselves 

SBU 3MT 2017 AGENDA:  

9:30am-10:00am Coffee & Sign In Theater Lobby
10:00am-10:15am Welcome and Ground Rules Lecture Hall 2
  Welcoming Remarks: Charles Taber, Dean of the Graduate School, and 
Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education
10:30am-11:30am Round 1  
  Moderator:  Paola Cepeda, Graduate Student, Linguistics
Dan Irving 
Gregory M. Smith 
Pratik Kumar  
Julia Clarke 
Linda Padwa  
Luisa Le Donne  
M. Elise Lauterbur 
Zoya Vallari
Lecture Hall 1
  Moderator:   Bertus Jordaan, Graduate Student, Physics and Astronomy
Nicholas U. Schwartz  
Anne Summers 
Benedette Adewale  
Elizabeth Trimber 
Hwasoo Lee  
Rajapillai Pillai  
Sai Zhou
Lecture Hall 2
11:30am-11:45am Break                  Theater Lobby
11:50am-12:50pm Round 2 Competitors Announced and Round 2 Begins
Moderator:  Martin Smyth, Graduate Student, Technology and Society 
Lecture Hall 2
1:00pm-2:00pm Luncheon and Winners Announced
Awards presented by Alumni Association
Theater Lobby

Agenda subject to change.


Student Graduate Program Advisor Presentation Title
Benedette Adewale Chemistry Bruce Brownawell Deepwater Horizon oil spill's dispersant: fate and future risk assessments
Julia Clarke English Adrienne Munich The Thing Repurposed: Character Formation in the Victorian Novel
Dan Irving English Amy Cook Nothing Never Happens: Plotless Fiction and Reader Participation
Pratik Kumar Chemistry Scott Laughlin Illuminating the Brain Circuits, one cell at a time
M. Elise Lauterbur Ecology and Evolution Liliana Dávalos and Patricia C. Wright Peeing Poison: Exploring the biochemistry and genetics of bamboo lemur cyanide survival
Luisa Le Donne Neuroscience Giancarlo La Camera A computer that takes decisions like your brain
Hwasoo Lee Materials Science and Engineering Sanjay Sampath Novel investigation of manufacturing thermoelectric materials to device that converts heat to electricity
Linda Padwa Science Education Keith Sheppard All Alone: A Study of Chemistry Teacher Isolation in New York State
Rajapillai Pillai Neuroscience Ramin Parsey How to peer into the brain safely (and cheaply!)
Nicholas U. Schwartz Neuroscience Lina Obeid Sphingolipids: A New Approach to Understanding Charcot Marie Tooth Disease
Gregory M. Smith Materials Science and Engineering Sanjay Sampath From sea-floor to 35,000 feet, how nature-inspired design can lead to advances in aerospace technology
Anne Summers English Adrienne Munich How the Victorians Saw: Vision, Perception and the Nineteenth-Century Novel
Elizabeth Trimber Cognitive Science, Psychology Christian Luhmann How can we predict who will make impulsive decisions? With reward learning!
Zoya Vallari Physics and Astronomy Chang Kee Jung Capturing ghost particles and telling apart real from fake
Sai Zhou Genetics Aaron Neiman and Rolf Sternglanz Cells at play: two songs from one music sheet


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. Students must stay for the luncheon announcement to receive their award. 

1st prize: $500
2nd prize: $300
3rd prize: $100 
People's Choice: $100


Eligibility: Competitors must be SBU graduate students who have advanced to candidacy (G5), 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 Arts and Humanities 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 three training sessions to be held on: March 1 AND March (8 or 9) AND March (22 or 23).*

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 experts at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. See the official rules for more information.

Training Sessions: The first session on March 1 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. For each session, speakers may indicate a preference for one of two small-group sessions. Session 2 dates are March 8 or 9, and Session 3 dates are March 22 or 23 . Speakers are expected to attend all three sessions, although students who have taken  JRN501: Distilling Your Message may opt out of Session 1.  See training dates and times below.

Speaker Sign Up Deadline:  Friday, February 24, 2017 

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

  • Session 1: Training: Your introduction to the Alda Center Method, March 1, 2017, 10:30am - 11:30am 
  • Session 2: Coaching 1: Individualized coaching on your draft 3MT talk. You will be assigned to one of two times:
    • March 8, 10:00 am-12:00 pm; OR
    • March 9, 2:00 - 4:00 pm.
  • Session 3: Coaching 2: Individualized coaching on your almost-final 3MT talk. You will be assigned to one of two times:
    • March 22, 10:00 am-12:00 pm; OR
    • March 23, 2:00 - 4:00 pm.

*Students who have already taken JRN501: Distilling Your Message may opt out of Session 1. 

How to Sign Up:

  1. Go to the Sign Up form  and enter your contact info.
  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 1 and March (8 or 9) and March (22 or 23). You can indicate a preference of one of the 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: The number of competitors is limited, therefore, competitor slots will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Sign up ASAP!


QUESTIONS: Contact Kathleen Flint Ehm, Director, IREP Office, or 631-632-7531.