Three Minute Thesis Competition

College of Arts and Sciences Pullman Qualifier

Wednesday, March 6, 2024, 3:30 p.m. in Goertzen 21

The 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—in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

3MT is not an exercise in trivializing or “dumbing down” research, but an opportunity for students to consolidate their ideas, their motivation, and their research discoveries so they can be presented to a wider audience.

The CAS 3MT winner of 2024 will receive valuable awards and advance to WSU 3MT Competition on March 27. The CAS qualifier winner of 2024 will receive a $1,000 award and advance to the to the University-wide competition. The CAS second place winner will receive a $750 award and the third place winner will receive a $500 award.

Rules and Criteria

Visit for judging criteria and specific guidelines.


The CAS qualifying event is limited to doctoral students endorsed by their academic chair or director. Click here for details.

Download the application form as a PDF or a Word document

View the 2023 Winners and Participants

View Past Participants

PowerPoint Template

Download the PowerPoint Slide


Contact the Office of the Dean at or 509-335-4581.

2024 Participants

>> Watch the the 2024 contest on YouTube.

Aditi Dahiya

1st Place

Healing Bone Using Spices

Bone health issues, such as osteoporosis and bone cancer, affect millions worldwide, with a bone fracture occurring every three seconds according to WHO statistics. Current treatments are not only costly but also heavily impact patient quality of life. In contrast to conventional medical treatments, this study investigates the therapeutic potential of everyday spices such as turmeric and oregano found in our kitchens, which have substantial yet often overlooked health benefits and could serve as preventive measures. The primary bioactive compounds in these spices, curcumin from turmeric and carvacrol from oregano, are well-documented for their anti-cancer, antibacterial, and antioxidant effects on various tissues but their impact on bone health is underexplored.

This study focuses on merging these natural medicinal compounds with 3D printing technology to forge a tailored approach to bone defect treatments. Through a combination of in vitro and in vivo studies, we investigate the synergistic effects of these phytochemicals and their interaction with cellular materials. The findings reveal that these compounds not only promote the proliferation of osteoblast cells, which are crucial for bone formation, but also exhibit toxicity towards osteosarcoma, bacterial, and osteoclast cells. By embedding these natural compounds into scaffolds created with 3D printers, using materials like calcium phosphate, we propose a novel, cost-effective treatment for bone defects. This research could mark a pivotal step towards a more accessible and less invasive treatment modality for bone-related ailments.

Annesh Mukhopadhyay

Physics and Astronomy
2nd Place

Understanding quantum mechanics through Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC)

The physical world we perceive in our everyday lives is governed by the laws of classical physics. Over almost three centuries, these laws of classical physics were sufficient to describe nature's physical properties and phenomena. New laws were developed when people realized that existing laws were insufficient to explain certain phenomena at extremely small (atomic) scales. To understand how individual particles interact on the most fundamental (atomic) level, new laws of physics, given by the theory of quantum mechanics, must be used. These laws are often counterintuitive and lead to surprising predictions.

To study quantum mechanics in a laboratory, ultracold atomic gases are a very powerful testbed. An example of an ultracold atomic gas is a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), where an atomic gas at room temperature is cooled to temperatures very close to absolute zero. By cooling atoms to near absolute zero, BECs exhibit unique quantum properties, providing a controlled environment to study fundamental phenomena. Images of these macroscopic quantum objects (BECs) can be taken by a physical camera and observed by human eyes. Through precise manipulation and observation of BECs, researchers gain insights into quantum behavior, offering profound implications for diverse fields such as quantum computing and fundamental physics.

My research involves the experimental study of BECs as a testbed to investigate fundamental laws of quantum physics such as quantum scattering, simulate condensed matter systems to study band structures, and fundamentally explore the basic principle behind complex quantum mechanical phenomena like the Josephson effect, which is a fundamental and the most critical component for quantum computing and sensing. Understanding the basic principle behind such complex quantum phenomena comprises the building blocks for the upcoming quantum revolution.

Patrick Gambill

Mathematics and Statistics
3rd Place

Mathematical Games and Redistricting

In recent years there have been advances in the mathematics of various two player games. This math allows us to determine which player has an advantage and what strategies will be successful. This same math can be applied to the real world problem of bipartisan redistricting. In particular, this math can help us determine which districting plans favor a particular party and what strategies a bad actor might use.

Matthew Beckman


Do Molecules and Surfaces Talk?

Cooperativity is a phenomenon in physical systems where identical elements within the system act dependently in relation to each other, a classic example of which is the hemoglobin that coats red blood cells. Possessing 4 active site where oxygen can bind to its surface, its well-documented that while the first binding event of oxygen to hemoglobin is relatively slow, the subsequent binding events occur on a timescale nearly 300 times faster. Cooperativity has been observed as a factor in numerous examples involving catalysis, synthesis, and biological processes, among others.

However, there is very little information about the factors that can encourage or discourage cooperative processes at the nanoscale. At the Hipps-Mazur Lab, our research examines the factors that affect the propagation of cooperative events involving reactive metal complexes and the surfaces they adsorb to, particularly the binding of oxygen to the metal center of a phthalocyanine ring. We’re interested in understanding the way different metal centers, different functional groups attached to the chromophore, and different surfaces encourage or discourage cooperative events.

Our research aims to investigate these questions through the use of experimental and computational techniques. Scanning Tunneling Microscopy allows us to image individual molecules adsorbed to our surface and track cooperative events in real time. Computationally, we utilize VASP to model our molecules on our surface and investigate the changes in their energies and charge densities. In essence, our research aims to answer a far simpler question: Do molecules and surfaces talk?

Andre Diehl

Languages, Cultures, and Race

Woodstock(s): A Radical History

The way in which the Aquarian Exposition of August 1969, presented by the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and commonly referred to as Woodstock, has been memorialized positions the event as a miraculous success that proved the value and ethics of the 1960s counterculture. Woodstock, as remembered in songs and in the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts’ museum, is imagined as an Edenic garden, the return to which would signify a new age of understanding and aesthetic possibility. In the basement of the Museum at Bethel Woods, this argument is enshrined on a panel that asks visitors, “Could there be another Woodstock?” The museum answers its own question twice: yes, there were two more Woodstock festivals but, Michael Lang and others do not believe they captured the spirit of the ur-event. While Lang, one of the founding partners in Woodstock Ventures, had argued against reproducing the festival as late as 1979, anniversary events in 1994 and 1999 were nonetheless planned and executed. These events, especially Woodstock ’99, were criticized for their commercialism and willful promotion of a harder sound in American popular music which resulted in an increased amount, and degree, of violence at the events. It was impossible to return to the Garden. This project presents a radical renarration of the Woodstock archive, inclusive of the ’94 and ’99 events, to construct a radical history. Borrowing from the work of Jack Halberstam, a radical history centers failure to present a richer narrative constructed around possibility. Centering failure in a reading and renarration of the Woodstock archive challenges our current mode of historical thinking and can propel us to new modes of historical, cultural, and aesthetic engagement.

Jennifer Moran


Sisterhood and Strife: Reproductive Justice and the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional

“Sisterhood and Strife: Reproductive Justice and the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional” examines the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional’s fight for equality and reproductive rights, and the internal struggles within the organization. Utilizing the methodologies of Chicana feminist scholars like Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, this work highlights the concerns of Third World women in the US, including the political nature of Chicana bodies, and builds upon the groundbreaking work of Chicana scholars Virginia Espino and Elena Gutíerrez, who brought the history of racially charged forced sterilization in Los Angeles to light. Within the Comisión, issues of abortion and reproductive rights were so divisive that the group chose to “agree to disagree” until 1978, when the case of Madrigal v. Quilligan forced them to confront the issues and change their stance on reproductive rights. Racism from the white feminist movement, personal ambitions, and beliefs about who could hold leadership positions within the organization complicated discussions and the efforts to reach consensus. The formal adoption of freedom of reproductive choice to their platform elevated both the Comisión and reproductive justice to the national level, yet left their organization fractured beyond repair. Despite internal struggles, the Comisión's campaign for equality and reproductive rights created waves of change within the public and legal spheres, influencing reproductive laws and regulations nationwide.

Saheed Adeniyi Ogunkoya


Cold War Crossroads 1957-1991: The Decolonization of Africa and US Immigration Act of 1965

The connections among the Cold War, global decolonization, and the rise of newly independent African nations signaled a new era in world history. The Cold War set the context for the second scramble for Africa when the US and Soviets competed for political relevance by employing state machinery and crafting new policies to entice leaders of the newly independent African states in their quest for acceptance. The US and Soviets offered economic aid, supported proxy wars, and designed policies to attract some newly independent African nations to support their Cold War objectives. This study argues that the 1965 US Immigration Act highlighted the US government’s efforts to revise its longstanding policies and project a more benevolent, less racist image to the newly independent nations in Africa. The act represented an American Cold War tool that defined and redefined the desirability of immigrants and symbolizing US efforts in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement to address systemic racism and inequality in the US. Furthermore, the act helped stall the expansion of communism in Anglophone Africa. The US Congress passed additional immigration acts between 1970 and 1990, building on the policy changes of the 1960s. In the last decades of the twentieth century, newly arriving skilled immigrants and refugees created a more diverse American society and helped fuel the expanding American economy.

Keywords: Reactionary, Second Scramble, Cold War, Immigration Act, Anglophone Africa, Decolonization, Diversity Visa.

Ela Sehic


Cultural Values and Parental Psychology

The present study aims to gain a greater understanding of the manner in which culture may impact parenting, and thus child development, by examining the relationship between cultural values, socialization goals (SGs), and parental ethnotheories (PEs). Specifically, this study examined links between cultural value dimensions (i.e., individualism/collectivism, power distance, masculinity/femininity, uncertainty avoidance, indulgence/restraint, and long/short-term orientation; Hofstede et al., 2010) and autonomous as well as relational SGs and PEs. We examined data collected from mothers of toddlers (N = 865) between 17 and 40 months of age (M = 26.88 months, SD = 5.65 months; 52% boys) from 14 nations represented in the Joint Effort Toddler Temperament Consortium (JETTC). We hypothesized that: 1) Cultural values consistent with independent cultural ideals would be positively associated with SGs and PEs representative of greater autonomy and independence and 2) Cultural values consistent with interdependent ideals would be positively associated with SGs and PEs representative of greater interrelatedness. Multilevel modeling (MLM) was used to regress parental psychology on Hofstede’s cultural values. Support for these hypotheses was somewhat mixed; higher ratings of culture-level indulgence were associated with higher autonomous PEs, as well as with higher relational and autonomous SGs. Furthermore, higher ratings of culture-level masculinity were associated with lower relational PEs and with lower autonomous SGs. The results suggest differences in the effects for cultural values associated with parenting versus with child outcomes and highlight considerations related to dichotomous cultural frameworks. The findings help explain both individual- and country-level variations in aspects of parental psychology.

Molly Sutter

Mathematics and Statistics

Mathematics Teacher Identity Formation in Relation to the Communities of Mathematicians, Teachers, and Mathematics Teachers

In this study, 10 participants who completed an autoethnography during a secondary math methods course in their teacher prep program, completed a followup interview 2-5 years after this course. These participants were asked to reflect on their autoethnography and on new experiences related to their identity formation as mathematics teachers. During the interviews, participants discussed different experiences, research, and their own beliefs of what being a part of each of these communities entails. Ideas about how participants defined these communities were inferred from participants’ discussions about themselves in relation to each community. The types of experiences and different pieces of research impacted each of the participants in different ways. The opportunity to reflect on these experiences and past writing allowed them to see how much they have grown and feel like they belong as mathematics teachers. Participants all had some similarities and some differences in how they talked about and defined these communities. Further research can help identify ways in which allowing teachers to create their own definitions and views of these communities could increase a sense of belonging in the profession of mathematics teachers.

Erik J. Wasleske

Physics and Astronomy

Hunting Tiny Monsters: Constructing a Database of Black Holes in Dwarf Galaxies

Today, astronomers observe galaxies both big and small throughout our universe. At the center of all large galaxies resides a black hole that is millions to billions of times more massive than our Sun and has a radius up to 400 times that the distance from Earth to the Sun. They are thought to have grown alongside their host galaxy throughout time by eating gas, space dust, and stars from the galaxy. Researchers currently have no explanation as to how these black holes form in the center of galaxies. Black holes at the centers of small galaxies are precursors to those in big galaxies. We can use the characteristics of the black holes in small galaxies to constrain the history of their formation and evolution. Unfortunately, black holes in small galaxies are difficult to find. Because they are small, they do not eat as much which causes their signatures to be more difficult to detect. In my thesis, I compile a sample of accreting black holes in small dwarf galaxies that were found using different observational methods. We find that no one method can identify the full population of black holes in dwarf galaxies. We search for the connections between these biases and the physical characteristics of the black hole and host galaxy. This study will ultimately produce a more complete understanding of the population of black holes in dwarf galaxies, which can be used to inform models of black hole formation.