Three-minute thesis finalists chosen

Elephant poo and ageing among the topics outlined in brief by PhD students

July 27, 2014

Presentations on elephant poo, ageing and Aids have all made it to the final of a competition that challenges PhD students to describe their thesis in three minutes.

Six finalists beat off rivals at the semi-final held at the University of York earlier this week after winning regional events. Up for grabs is £3,000 to spend on public engagement activities.

The competition sees doctoral students give an engaging presentation on an aspect of their research and its significance using no props and just one slide. A typical thesis runs to 80,000 words, which could take around nine hours to present in full.

The UK competition, now in its second year, is run by Vitae and the winner will be announced at their international researcher development conference in September. This year saw entries from 25 research institutions.

Janet Metcalfe, chair and head of Vitae, was one of the semi-final judges. She said: “Public engagement is an important aspect of being a researcher and this prize represents a fabulous opportunity for the winner to build on their professional development.”

A people’s choice prize, decided by delegates at the conference, will win a three-minute animation about their research. All finalists will be offered a consultation by 99Scholars, an academic event platform, to help them improve their online presence and increase the visibility of their research.

The University of Queensland developed the Three Minute Thesis competition in 2008 and its success has seen events pop up in several countries including the UK.

2014 finalists:

  • Emma Hodcroft, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh
    Virus or host? What determines time to Aids?
  • Richard Middlemiss, School of Physics and Astronomy and School of Engineering, University of Glasgow
    Saving the world with springs
  • Anna Cocking, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London
    To stick or not to stick (PhD is on the function of a cell receptor in lung cancer)
  • Alison May, department of craniofacial development and stem cell biology, King’s College London
    What’s hot and what’s snot! Understanding our respiratory glands
  • Rhys Anderson, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University
    The role of DNA damage in ageing
  • Carly Lynsdale, department of animal and plant sciences, University of Sheffield
    Pachyderms, parasites and poo: linking individual variation and parasite infection in semi-captive Asian elephants

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