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When Erin Spencer won the 2018 Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the master’s degree student in the Environment, Ecology and Energy Program received a $1,000 award – and an experience she will remember for a lifetime.

Spencer also received the opportunity to compete with nearly 50 other 3MT winners at the February 2019 Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. She spoke on “Fishy Business: Red Snapper Mislabeling in the Southeastern United States.

The regional competition involved four groups of 12 students each in the semi-finals; Spencer received “People’s Choice” honors within her semi-final group, advancing to compete in the final round of eight.

She reflects on her “incredible experience”:

“I was proud to represent UNC-Chapel Hill, and thrilled to compete in the regional finals. It was so inspiring to hear graduate students from throughout the Southeastern U.S. share their research. Despite it technically being a competition, the atmosphere was fun and supportive, and I enjoyed exploring Knoxville with my fellow 3MT participants! Thank you to the UNC Graduate School for sending me, and especially Brian Rybarczyk for organizing the campus 3MT competition!”

Video by Melanie Busbee

The University of Queensland held the first 3MT, in 2008. The competition now takes place in more than 600 universities in over 65 countries around the world.

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