Doctoral students pack years of research into three minutes

Three minute thesis contestants with Dean Jockers.Why people cannot regenerate lost appendages the way some frogs and other animals do is the question at the heart of Robyn Reeve’s doctoral research in biological sciences. Explaining her work clearly in a mere three minutes won her both first place and the “People’s Choice” award in the College of Arts and Sciences’ (CAS) recent qualifying event for WSU’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Contest of 2020.

For her presentation, “Leptin: integrator of immune response and regeneration,” Reeve will receive from the college a total of $1,500 in fellowship funding for fall 2020. In addition, she will represent CAS in the WSU-wide 3MT Competition in late March.

Robyn Reeve.

Reeve, who is also distinguished for winning runner-up honors in the 2019 CAS 3MT competition, wants to learn which parts of the immune system are important for regeneration and which prevent regeneration. She hopes her studies will lead to improved therapies for increasing human regeneration and healing from traumatic injuries, she said.

Watch her presentation here.

Chemistry doctoral student Cameron Naylor took runner-up honors in the CAS competition with his three-minute distillation of his years-long research into developing a more practical way to assess organic material in complex environments across the solar system. For his presentation, “Deducing accurate Ion Mobilities in Complex Atmospheres,” Naylor will receive $500 in fellowship funding for fall 2020.

Cameron Naylor.

“Currently, techniques to analyze extraterrestrial environments are limited to select forms of spectroscopy, low-resolution mass spectrometry, gas chromatographs, and electrochemical measurements,” Naylor said. High-resolution ion mobility spectrometry may be a better method, largely because of its portability and minimal power and pumping requirements.

Watch his presentation here.

Six other CAS doctoral students, representing three more academic units, also presented their research in this year’s competition. Brief descriptions of all the fascinating research by CAS 3MT contestants since 2015 are available online.

The international 3MT research communication competition challenges PhD students to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance in just three minutes and using just one visual slide. Participants hone their academic, presentation and research communication skills by effectively explaining their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Top image: CAS dean Matthew Jockers, fourth from the left, with all eight of the 2020 CAS 3MT participants.

By Adriana Aumen, College of Arts and Sciences