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The University of Southampton

Medicine’s research student is 3MT® People’s Choice

Published: 22 May 2015
Alan is fifth from left, back row

The Faculty of Medicine’s doctoral researcher, Alan Morris, was recently voted the People’s Choice in the final of the coveted Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) award, which took place earlier in May.


Using just one PowerPoint slide and no additional props or electronic media the 3MT® competition challenges doctoral researchers to explain their research project to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes.

Alan presented his research 'Beating Alzheimer's disease: It's all about 'sewer tunnels!’ to nearly 400 people in a packed lecture theatre. He was one of eight Faculty finalists competing in the University Grand Final, following a series of local faculty heats involving around 80 doctoral researchers.

While the judges were deliberating, Professor Tim Leighton gave an entertaining talk about 'The Acoustic Bubble'.

On hearing that he was the people’s winner, Alan said: “I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to present my work to such an enthusiastic audience from across the University, and delighted that my talk resonated with so many.

“I’d recommend all doctoral researchers give the 3MT® a go too as the skills you learn are those that will stay with you for life. I’d like to thank everyone who voted, and wish the judges’ winner, Davide Zilli, all the best in the UK finals.”

Alan’s doctoral research has focused on defining the pathway that waste toxins take when being cleared from the brain. His work is important for understanding the mechanisms behind neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, which is thought to be caused by a failure in the elimination of harmful waste toxins from the brain.

Whilst studying for his B.Sc. in biochemistry at the University of Sussex, Alan became very interested in scientific research and decided that the next logical step was to undertake a PhD.

He began his Age UK sponsored PhD at the University of Southampton in 2012 under the supervision of Dr Roxana Carare, Dr Cheryl Hawkes and Professor James Nicoll.

During the past two and a half years Alan has been able to attended conferences all around the world where he has shared his research with other scientists and won several awards for presenting. Most notably, in 2014 he was presented with the prestigious David Dawbarn Award at the Azheimer’s Research UK conference.

In 2015 Alan’s research achievements were recognised by the Society of Electron Microscope Technology, which awarded him The Don Claugher Bursary to help fund his future research.

Alan is due to complete his doctoral research in September of this year. In October he is moving to Chicago, where he will start a postdoctoral fellowship, but one day would love to study medicine.

The competition was jointly run by the University's Researcher Development & Graduate Centre and Career Destinations, with additional help from the faculties. You can view a video of Alan's talk here. 


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