Doctoral Research Served Up in Three Minutes
Liam O'Leary and Lily Yee-Sloan
On the topic menu: Do Dietary Recommendations Based on Genetics Change Eating Behaviour?
How do you serve up a winning Three Minute Thesis? Ask Daiva Nielsen (pictured, right)—$1,000 prize winner of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) University of Toronto competition.
"I spent a lot of time focusing my overall goal," she explained. "I looked at the bigger picture and thought about the most important point to get across."
A PhD candidate in nutritional sciences, Nielsen is undertaking research to personalize nutrition to the level of genes. "It is a new field, and I wanted to get the ideas across clearly."
To prepare for the 3MT®, she practiced her talk in front of her lab group and supervisor, and then kept improving it. Ultimately, she chose her study design as the focus of her presentation.
"My study design is the gold standard. I am looking at the most direct relationship."
The 3MT® challenge is to present complex research information in an engaging, accessible, and compelling way. On March 26, the School of Graduate Studies, in partnership with Student Life, hosted the 3MT®, a University-wide competition for doctoral students. Fifteen finalists from three divisional heats competed for two prizes.
As the U of T winner, Nielsen will be heading to McMaster University to participate in the 3MT® provincial competition on April 24. Nielsen will be defending U of T's championship title won last year.
How does she plan to prepare? "I will be revising my presentation slightly by incorporating some of the feedback from the judges. The new material will add enthusiasm and simplicity. It will be like a mini-Ted Talk." Nielsen likes their accessible format. "In science, it is important that other people understand our research. We need to disseminate our findings."
Joseph Bondy-Denomy agrees about the importance of accessibility. A PhD candidate in molecular genetics, his talk was about Harnessing Viruses as the Next Generation Antibiotic.
"I asked myself what someone who is outside the field of science would think." This gave him clarity for his second-place presentation. He says it is important to practice with someone who provides honest, critical feedback. "It makes all the difference."
Brian Corman, dean of graduate studies and vice-provost of graduate education, explains, "Students taking part in the 3MT® gain valuable experience in distilling their research discoveries and their impact into a three-minute talk aimed at a non-specialist audience.
"This provides them with the opportunity to develop the communications skills they need to explain their important work to the public that has supported them. The 3MT® competition allows the University of Toronto the opportunity to showcase the significant research being done by our graduate students."
Posted April 3, 2014
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