Graduate students participate in Three Minute Thesis competition

Three Minute Thesis competition will occur from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Graduate Research Center Incubator, located in the W. R. Poage Legislative Library. Photo credit: Timothy Hong

By Clarissa Anderson | Reporter

The Baylor Graduate Student Association is challenging master’s and doctoral students to present their research in just three minutes during a competition. The third annual Three Minute Thesis competition will occur from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Graduate Research Center Incubator, located in the W. R. Poage Legislative Library.

Participants and audience members will learn about research their peers have done in different disciplines while eating free food catered by Zoe’s Kitchen, said Naperville, Ill., graduate student Kevin Singer, academic affairs chair of the Graduate Student Association.

“It’s a very fun experience because you get to hear a lot of talks outside of your discipline, and so if you don’t target your talk very well, you can end up overshooting and talking too specifically to people who are not in your discipline,” said Elias Oziolor, a graduate student from Razgrad, Bulgaria, and first-place winner of Baylor’s first Three Minute Thesis competition.

Cash prizes will be awarded to three master’s students and three doctoral students. The amounts will be $50, $100 and $300 for the first, second and third prize winners, respectively, Singer said.

Participants are judged based on whether their presentations are jargon-free and able to inspire an audience that is not in the same discipline or specialty, Singer said. In addition, they are judged on how engaging the presentation is and how effectively the ideas are communicated.

“If you can’t communicate what inspires you about your professional life in academia in three minutes or less, then the result is how are you going to get others, whether that’s a job search committee, a faculty search committee, your colleagues, or even your future students to be excited about it?” Singer said.

The competition’s judges include Dr. Larry Lyon, dean of the Baylor Graduate School, Dr. Kevin Chambliss, professor of chemistry, and Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, associate professor of journalism, said Singer.

The Three Minute Thesis competition was started by the University of Queensland in Australia and has now become an international event with graduate students advancing to later rounds in the competition. Baylor is one of the universities officially registered with the Three Minute Thesis competition, but currently the competition at Baylor is only local due to the logistics of sending top presenters to the next round, Singer said.

The Graduate Student Association held workshops earlier in the semester to help participants to effectively prepare for the competition. Singer said workshops included analyzing the presentation of past first place winners, as well as a workshop led by Dr. Christopher Rios, assistant dean for graduate students and faculty sponsor of the Graduate Student Association.

The event is limited to graduate students and faculty, Singer said.

“When you only have three minutes, so much of how you’re judged comes down to how you are at public speaking. So watching the people who are really good at public speaking and what they did was really helpful in thinking about how to make myself a better public speaker,” said Decatur, Ill., graduate student Lynneth Miller, 2014 third-place winner.