A thesis in three minutes

College of Arts and Sciences, Three Minute Thesis.A doctoral candidate in the School of Biological Sciences, Milica Radanovic took the top prize and People’s Choice awards in a semifinal round of Washington State University’s Three Minute Thesis contest hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) in Pullman.

Radanovic was one of five doctoral students who vied for the CAS Pullman Three Minute Thesis competition’s $1,000 top prize and a chance to compete in the university-wide event. Contestants were tasked with presenting their multi-year research projects in three short minutes, using language a general audience could understand, and each using only one visual slide.

For her college-level win, Radanovic quickly and clearly described her investigation of the ways human activities drive changes in diverse ecosystems, including microbial communities in soil, that can increase greenhouse gas emissions and negatively impact global food production. Her research is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and she recently received a 2021 Ecological Society of America graduate award.

CAS Pullman runner-up honors went to Priyanka Rao, mathematics and statistics, for her concise description of her research in mathematical modeling to help understand transport of contaminants in rivers and streams. Rao’s award and Radanovic’s People’s Choice Award each carried a $500 purse.

The three other CAS Pullman contestants also presented succinct descriptions of their research projects:

  • Matthew Gaddis (mathematics and statistics): The effects of ventilation as it relates to inter-age mingling and propagation of disease, particularly COVID-19
  • Meaghan Petix (biological sciences): Identifying the locations and sources of atmospheric nitrogen deposits in the North Cascades
  • Leah Wilson (English): the ways many 21st-century writers have reimagined gender and sexuality in their literary work.

Brief descriptions of all the fascinating research projects by CAS Pullman 3MT contestants since 2015 are available online.

The WSU Vancouver and Tri-Cities campuses also hosted 3MT qualifying events featuring several CAS graduate students.

WSU competition

The WSU final competition will be broadcast and streamed online by Northwest Public Broadcasting on Wednesday, March 24.

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: Priyanka Rao, Matthew Gaddis, Meaghan Petix, Leah Wilson, and Milica Radanovic

By J. Adrian Aumen, for the College of Arts and Sciences