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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Postgraduate researchers battle it out to deliver the best ‘three minute thesis’

Published: 5 May 2015
3MT Southampton

Talented doctoral researchers from Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Ocean and Earth Sciences impressed academics and fellow students alike by talking about their PhDs in just 180 seconds in the Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences heat of the University of Southampton’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) contest. At stake was a place in the final competing against students from the other seven faculties.

Biological scientist James Fuller won through with a summary of his work investigating how to reduce dangerous vaccine side effects. “One hundred years after its discovery, there is no treatment for Alzheimer’s disease,” he says. “I was partly inspired to get into this area of research in neurodegenerative diseases after my grandfather developed a similar form of dementia.”

Anieke Brombacher took second prize for describing her work on what makes species become extinct. Marco Facciotti won the People’s Choice award; his talk on how chemistry can contribute to the study of corrosion countermeasures for insulating oils has already won the doctoral researcher the Coal Research Forum 2015 prize. 

Chair of Judges Phil Bartlett, Professor of Electrochemistry, says: “Although it was a very difficult task to choose between the contenders, James was a worthy winner and we wish him good luck in representing us at the grand final. 

Fellow PhD students Przemek Ociepa and Karolina Mirwska were among the organisers of the faculty final. “Effective public engagement is more and more important for scientists who want to win research grants and produce work with impact, this is an excellent opportunity for our students to develop these skills,” says Przemek. Karolina adds: “Often experienced academics find it difficult to summarise their research for a non-specialist audience. I was impressed by how well our students tackled the challenge.” 

3MT was developed at the University of Queensland to encourage doctoral researchers to explain their work to a non-specialist audience. The University of Southampton final will be on 6 May with prizes of £1,000 for the winner, £500 for the runner-up and £500 for the People’s Choice selection, all to be spent on research support.

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