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Two graduate students come out on top in KU’s 2020 3MT Competition

Monday, November 23, 2020

LAWRENCE — The Three Minute Thesis Competition is a global research communication event with a compelling challenge: How well can graduate students convey the scope of their research to a general audience in just three minutes or less? This fall, the University of Kansas joined hundreds of other institutions around the world in hosting a university-wide 3MT competition that took place virtually for the first time due to the pandemic.

Twenty-three graduate students participated in KU’s 2020 3MT event, with 16 advancing to the competition finals. Each student had to condense their complex research into a polished three-minute video presentation using only one PowerPoint slide as a visual aid. 

On Nov. 13, KU’s 2020 3MT competition culminated with two graduate students taking the top awards. Punam Rawal, a doctoral student in pharmacology & toxicology, won first place and $500 for her presentation, “Policing the Police to Treat Alzheimer's Disease.” Megan Hamilton, a doctoral student in bioengineering, earned both second place ($250) as well as the People’s Choice Award ($150) for her presentation, “Hydrogel Beads Provide a New Option for Those Suffering from Knee Pain.”

As the top finalist, Rawal will represent KU at the regional Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools 3MT competition taking place March 24-26, 2021, with associated expenses paid for by the Office of Graduate Studies.

2020 marks the third year that KU has hosted a 3MT competition. The event was sponsored by the Office of Graduate Studies and the KU Society of Sigma Xi.

The 3MT competition was established by the University of Queensland, Australia, in 2009. Since then, 3MT competitions have been held at more than 600 universities and in 65 countries. Judges for the competitions are not from scientific or research backgrounds, and scoring, in part, reflects the judges’ views on how well the presenter explained their work to those unfamiliar with the discipline.

The video presentations of the winners as well as all participants in the 2020 KU 3MT competition are available online.