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Preliminary rounds will lead to Oct. 29 finals before judges, public audience — all highlighting graduate student research

Three Minute ThesisCurrently enrolled master’s and doctoral students at UNC-Chapel Hill are invited to register for the upcoming Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition – culminating in a final round in which 10 students share their research, in three minutes, in front of a public audience and panel of judges.

Participants must be from an academic discipline administered by The Graduate School. The final round, to be held at Bondurant G100, will take place at 4 p.m. Oct. 29.

The first-place winner receives $1,000 and a trip to compete in the regional 3MT competition in March 2020. The second-place winner receives $600; and a People’s Choice winner, who is determined by the audience, receives $400.

Here are some important dates for graduate students who are interested in participating; events leading up to the final round are all held at the Graduate Student Center (211A W. Cameron Ave.):

  • Oct. 10: Information session from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., in which graduate students learn more about the competition and, specifically, how to create an effective presentation for the preliminary rounds.
  • Oct. 16: Registration deadline for all graduate students planning to participate in the 3MT preliminary rounds.
  • Oct. 18: Open practice session from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in which participants can practice their talks and receive feedback. Registration is not required.
  • Oct. 21 and 22: Preliminary rounds from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“The Three Minute Thesis competition is an opportunity for graduate students across disciplines to translate their scholarship and research for a broad audience, a key skill that is critical for any professional regardless of their career path,” said Brian Rybarczyk, assistant dean for academic and professional development at The Graduate School.

The Graduate School hosts the competition each year. Jessica Barrick, a doctoral student in physics and astronomy, participated in 2018 and received second-place honors for her presentation on “Understanding Sea Turtle Navigation with Laser-Based Imaging.”

She said the event is valuable because it enhances graduate students’ understanding of their research and communication skills and has benefits for the job search process.

“It’s essential for any researcher to be able to communicate effectively with people from all backgrounds, so learning how to be concise and clear without generalizing is incredibly important,” she said. “And, I now feel that I have an excellent, ready-made explanation of my research to give in job interviews.”

The University of Queensland developed the 3MT in 2008, and more than 600 universities in 65 countries now hold their own competitions.

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