Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) at U of T

Winner of the 3MT® U of T Finals 2020, Amalia Gil

What is the 3MT®​ Competition?

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition is open to graduate students enrolled in Canadian universities. Participants have three minutes or less to present their research to a panel of non-specialist judges, and competitions are held at local, provincial, and national levels. The challenge is to present complex research information in an engaging, accessible, and compelling way.

This competition is a unique opportunity for graduate students to showcase their innovative and significant research to a wider audience, across disciplines within the University, and to the broader public. It is open to the public and advertised within the community.  

University of Toronto 3MT®​ Competition is scheduled for winter 2021.

The preliminary heats will begin on 3MT heats Tuesday, March 9, 2021 and continue until Thursday 18, 2021. The 3MT Semi-finals will be held on March 24th and 25th. The 3MT Finals will be on Thursday March 31st.

If you have questions about this award competition, please contact: Liam O’Leary at​

Eligibility & Rules


  • Students must be registered in a graduate program at the time of the 3MT® competition, and must have made some progress on their research and analysis. All graduate students doing a major research study are encouraged to participate.
  • Master’s and PhD students who have defended, but have not yet convocated, are eligible to participate.
  • 3MT® presentations must represent the primary research the student conducted in their graduate program.
  • Competitors must present in person and agree to be video-recorded and photographed. They must also allow those video-recordings and photographs to be made public.
  • Winner of the University of Toronto competition must be available to attend the provincial finals.


  • A single, static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations, or “movement” of any description are allowed), and the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration and remain in view for the duration of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g., sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g,. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken in standard oratory prose (i.e., no poems, raps or songs, other than those that may be the target of research).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage or at the podium.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

Presentations will be assessed according to the criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted.


  • Did the presenter use language and terminology that was clear and understandable?
  • Was the pace of the talk effective?
  • Did the presenter use non-verbal communication (i.e., eye contact, voice modulation, body language, etc.) effectively?
  • Did the slide enhance, rather than detract from, the talk — was it clear, legible, and concise?


  • Did the talk help you to understand the scholarly research and creativity?
  • Did the presenter clearly outline the nature and purpose of the scholarly research and creativity?
  • Did the presenter clearly indicate what is interesting about the scholarly research and creativity?
  • Did the talk follow a logical sequence?


  • Was the talk engaging?
  • Did the talk inspire you to want to know more?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their work?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain your attention?

​Canada 3MT® Competition

The 3MT® Canadian champion will be chosen from 11 finalists from three regional competitions. Both master’s and doctoral-level students are eligible. For more information, visit the Canada 3MT® website.

Past 3MT® Winners​


The finals of the University of Toronto 3MT Competition took place as scheduled on Thursday, April 2 from 6-8 PM on Zoom and Facebook Live. An audience of more than 400 supported our amazing U of T students and enjoyed a special guest appearance from CBC Radio Ideas producers Tom Howell and Nicola Luksic. Their documentary series Ideas from the Trenches showcases the work of PhD students across the country. Watch the Facebook Livestream.


COVID-19: U of T’s ‘virtual’ Three Minute Thesis competition draws a crowd online (U of T News, April 15, 2020)

Three Minute Thesis competition moves online (Faculty of Arts & Science News, April 14, 2020)

Student wins U of T’s Three Minute Thesis event for work on surgery and distraction (Faculty of Medicine, April 10)

First place: Amalia Gil, The Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, Identifying Distractions in Surgery with Eye-tracking

Second place: Chris Ahuja, Department of Surgery, “SMaRT Stem Cells to Repair the Spinal Cord”

Third place: Aaron Cabral, Department of Chemistry, “Rapid and Sensitive Detection of Bacteria with Fluorescent Chemical Sensors”

People’s Choice: Amir Arellano Saab, Department of Cell and Systems Biology, “The Witchweed Problem: Every Atom Counts”


  • Winner: Shane Saunderson, “Persuasive Robotics and the Social Machine.” Learn more about Shane’s research.
  • Second place: Leah De Jong, “Using Skin Cells to Understand Genetic Brain Disorders in Rett Syndrome”
  • Tied for third place:
    • Ryan Chu, “Remote Vital Sign Monitoring Using Infrared Depth Cameras”
    • Farah Qaiser, “Using DNA sequencing to investigate the connection between Epilepsy and Autism Spectrum Disorder”
  • People’s Choice: Shelley Vanderhout, “Cow’s milk fat: which is best for children?”


Congratulations to Meghan McGee from the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Read about Meghan’s research in U of T News​ and watch her winning 3MT presentation


Congratulations to Richard Kil from the Department of Chemistry for winning second place in Canada’s 3MT® Competition! After winning the 3MT® Ontario Competition and Competitor’s Choice Award, Richard was entered into the National Finals, where his video was judged by a panel including the Tragically Hip’s Rob Baker, CBC Radio producers Nicola Luksic and Tom Howell, and entrepreneur and PhD supporter Ian Baines. Read the U of T News interview with Richard Kil.

Watch the Top U of T Entries from 2017


Watch the Top Three Entries from 2016

​ 2015

Congratulations to Stephen McCarthy, a PhD candidate in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, who placed second runner-up at the Provincial 3MT® at Western University on April 23. Stephen competed against 19 other Ontario university students and earned a place in the coveted top-ranking positions. Watch the Ontario 3MT® presentations.

Stephen and the other provincial finalists represented Ontario in the Canada competition in May.


Stephen McCarthy (Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology) won the U of T 3MT® with his presentation, “Towards an Ebola Cure.” Stephen’s research has attracted international media attention. Read the full CNN story.

Elissa Gurman (Department of English) placed second with her talk on Consent and the Love Plot in Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Fiction.


Congratulations to winner Daiva Nielsen (Nutritional Sciences) and runner-up Joseph Bondy-Denomy (Molecular Genetics) who took top honours in the University of Toronto 3MT® Finals held in March 2014.

Daiva moved on to compete and win the 2014 Ontario Final last April at McMaster University in Hamilton — successfully defending U of T’s title in Ontario. Read more about Daiva’s big win.


Bravo to winner Jasdeep Saggar (Medical Biophysics) and runner-up Abraham Heifets (Computer Science) who placed first and second in the University of Toronto’s first 3MT® competition held in March 2013

Jasdeep went on to represent U of T at the 2013 Ontario Finals in April at Queen’s University in Kingston, successfully winning the first 3MT® Provincial Final. Read more about Jasdeep’s triumph.

Subsequently, Abraham went on to co-found the startup company Chematria, housed at U of T’s Impact Centre. Chematria made news by launching a search for a new Ebola treatment using artificial intelligence. Read more about Chematria in the U of T news.


Making the Most of Your Three Minutes
by Simon Clews, Director, Writing Centre, University of Melbourne

How to Talk About Your Thesis in 3 Minutes
by Inger Mewburn (RMIT)

Communicating Your Research in Lay Language
by Christian A Linte, IEEE Engineering in Medicine & Biology Magazine, May/June 2009.