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3MT® (Three Minute Thesis) Competition

The Office of Graduate Studies and the Graduate and Professional Student Council are proud to present USF's 3 Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®)!

Click here to visit the 3MT® site and view videos of past international winners.

About 3MT®

The 3MT® is a skills development activity which challenges Research Higher Degree students to explain their dissertation or thesis research project to a non-specialist audience. The idea is for students to orally present the significance of their dissertation or thesis using a single static slide in just three minutes. Judges will rate the student's ability to present their research to a multidisciplinary audience in accessible and engaging non-technical language. Developed by The University of Queensland in 2008, enthusiasm for the 3MT® concept and its adoption in numerous universities has also led to the development of an international competition.

Fall 2016 Competition Results

Our Fall 2016 Competition was held on Tuesday, October 25 - and the presentations were all captivating! Out of nine submissions, seven students presented, and choosing the recipients was not an easy task. The winner of the 3MT® competition will be registered to go to the Southern Council of Graduate Schools meeting in Annapolis, MD on March 2-5, 2017 to compete in the regional 3MT® competition.

First Place ($300 prize)
Name: Kevin Orner
College: College of Engineering
Program: Environmental Engineering
Major Professor: Dr. Jeffrey Cunningham
Title: Nutrient Removal and Energy Recovery from Digester Effluent
Abstract: Wastewater treatment plants remove a number of contaminants prior to discharging treated effluent. Removing nitrogen from wastewater prevents algae blooms but usually requires expensive chemical and energy input. To address this problem, nutrient-rich digestate in the sidestream can utilize microbial fuel cells to remove nitrogen and recover energy, thereby saving wastewater treatment plants significant costs in chemicals and energy.
Second Place ($200 prize)
Name: Karena Nguyen
College: College of Arts and Sciences
Program: Integrative Biology
Major Professor: Dr. Jason Rohr
Title: A Mechanistic Framework for Temperature-Dependent Disease Dynamics: A Novel Approach with Dynamic Energy Budget Theory
Abstract: Infectious diseases incur a large health burden in underdeveloped countries. Unfortunately, human population growth is expected to surge in these areas and changes to the environment due to larger populations will undoubtedly affect how infectious diseases are spread. Global climate change is a primary concern because temperature plays an important role in facilitating disease transmission, especially in host-parasite systems. The primary goal of my dissertation will be to quantify the net effects of temperature on a human parasite and its intermediate host and how these outcomes ultimately influence human health risk for individuals living in susceptible areas.
People's Choice ($100 prize)
Name: Dagmara Monfort
College: College of Engineering
Program: Engineering Science
Major Professor: Dr. Piyush Koria
Title: Self-Assembling Nanoparticles for Treatment of Genetic Diseases
Abstract: Genetic diseases affect millions of people. Gene therapy, a technique used to replace, inactivate, or correct defective genes, shows potential for genetic diseases. One of the methods used to introduce a gene to the cell is using lentiviruses. Lentiviruses can infect both dividing and non-dividing cells. However, viruses can deliver the gene to the non-desired cells leading to undesirable side effects. This project presents a unique nanoparticle delivery system for targeted gene therapy. It consists of nanoparticles bound to viruses, with the desired gene, and nanoparticles with growth factors, used for selectivity of cells overexpressing this growth factor receptors.

Competition History

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a skills development activity which challenges Research Higher Degree students to explain their research project to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes. Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008, enthusiasm for the 3MT® concept and its adoption in numerous universities led to the development of an international competition.

Contest Rules


  1. A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description, the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration).
  2. No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  3. No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  4. Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  5. Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  6. Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  7. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Comprehension & Content

  1. Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  2. Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  3. Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  4. Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  5. Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  6. Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement & Communication

  1. Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  2. Was the presenter careful not to trivialise or generalise their research?
  3. Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  4. Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  5. Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  6. Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?



Presentor Preparation Guide
2015 Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) 3MT Final Write Up
3MT® Competition Winners from around the world

Click here to view the Innaugural Competition Winners!

This event is sponsored by Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC), the Office of Graduate Studies, and ResearchOne.