Poi PhD student wins three-minute thesis competition

University of Auckland student claims the top prize for Universitas 21 3MT competition 

November 1, 2016
PhD lettered on book spine

A PhD student studying how a performance art could be good for improving the health of the over-60s has won an annual competition for describing a thesis in three minutes.

Kate Riegle van West, of the University of Auckland, was the overall winner of the 2016 Universitas 21 3MT competition with her thesis Poi for your health: A spin on ageing.

The competition challenges PhD students across the globe to explain their doctoral thesis in a three-minute presentation to a non-specialist audience, testing their communication, clarity and conciseness.  

Having each won their university’s own internal heats, alongside more than 1,000 other students, the local winners were brought together to virtually share their theses with an expert judging panel for the final round.

Ms Riegle van West’s thesis explores how the performance art of poi, which involves the spinning of weighted socks around the body, can improve physical and cognitive dexterity, especially among the growing over-60s age group.

Ms Riegle van West said that the competition had given her “an amazing platform to share my research on poi and health, and I am super-excited and honoured that the judges have chosen me as the winner”.

Taking the Highly Commended Award was Lillian Olule of the University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus.

Ms Olule’s thesis, titled Capturing signals then charging batteries, shows how wireless signals from sources such as wi-fi, radio, television or microwave ovens can be captured, recycled and used to power any small devices, from mobile phones to implanted biosensors.

Finally, taking the People’s Choice Award was Islam Mosa of the University of Connecticut. His thesis Miniaturised power sources for implantable bioelectronics: ultra-thin power sources for cardiac pacemakers was voted for by 3,400 people, the competition’s most popular 3MT yet.

His success was celebrated by Kent Holsinger, Connecticut’s vice-provost for education, who called him a “very accomplished young scientist and a powerful communicator”.

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