Purdue University's 2018 Three Minute Thesis (3MT™) Competition

April 17, 2018 in Hiler Theatre at Wilmeth Active Learning Center (WALC Room 1055) at 7:00 pm.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT™) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland.

The competition develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports the development of students' capacities to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience.

Graduate students will have three minutes to present a compelling discussion on their research topic, its significance, and relevance to the general public. 3MT™ is not an exercise in trivializing or 'dumbing-down' research but forces competitors to consolidate their ideas and crystalize their research discoveries. It is a celebration of the discoveries made by graduate students and will allow the broader community to learn about ongoing research at Purdue.

Preliminary rounds will take place in the weeks of March 26-30 and April 2-6 to determine the top 10 finalists.

This is a fast-paced competition where the top 10 finalists compete by summarizing their 3 + years of research in only 3 minutes with only 1 slide.  It is a free event and is open to the public. A Panel of Judges will select the 1st and 2nd place winners but the People’s Choice Award will be selected by the audience.

2018 Winners:

First Place: Sarah Mueller, Agriculture

Second Place: Akane Ota, Agriculture

People's Choice: Ashlee Colbert, Engineering


Purdue University's annual 3MT™ competition will be held April 17, 2018, in Hiler Theatre at Wilmeth Active Learning Center (WALC Room 1055) at 7 pm. (doors open at 6:45 pm)

Only the top 10 finalists will compete on April 17, 2018.

Evening Itinerary:
    7:00 pm - 7:45 pm Top 10 finalist compete
    7:45 pm - 8:15 pm Socializing and refreshments served while votes are tallied.
    8:15 pm - 8:30 pm Presentation of Awards

Student Eligibility

Currently enrolled graduate students in all disciplines at the Purdue University West Lafayette Campus will be eligible to participate in 3MT™. Work presented must have been conducted at Purdue University - not from a previous degree and should be in the final stages of graduate school so you have some sound conclusions and impacts from your research. Graduates are not eligible. If you have any questions, please contact purdue3mt@purdue.edu.

  • Winner: $500
  • Runner-up: $250
  • People's Choice Award: $250. This category will be chosen by a vote of the audience in attendance at the competition.
  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description)
  • 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
  • The decision of the judging panel is final

All presentations will be videotaped and will appear on the graduate school 3MT™ website.

Judging Criteria
  • Communication style: Was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience?
  • Comprehension: Did the presentation help the audience understand the research?
  • Engagement: Did the presentation make the audience want to know more?


Dr. Mason has created a series of workshops to help students improve their communication skills. All were offered at the Fall Blitz - Oct 9-10.

Improve Techniques for the Researcher - January 24, 2018
No comedy skills needed but a willingness to improve your communication, active listening and engagement skills is critical.
Improvisation will teach you about heightening your awareness and improving your listening skills. It is more about connecting with your audience than acting skills. It can also help you hone your key messages when speaking time is short at conferences and can actually increase the quality of the audience-speaker interaction

Story Telling 101 - February 8, 2018
Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to share your research knowledge with others in an engaging, memorable format. Stories are powerful and can connect you with an audience in ways that you might never connect with traditional presentation techniques. It can make your arguments more persuasive and transfer more information. If your presentations are more of a spewing of facts, rather than a cohesive story, this workshop is for you. In this workshop, we will create a few key stepping stones that you can use to progress through your story and work on the hook that will get an audience interested in your message early and keep them interested to the conclusion.

Engaging Presentations & Distilling Your Message - February 28, 2018
Do you ever get caught in “lecture mode” when presenting your work? Do you find many researchers you listen to lose their energy, enthusiasm, and ability to engage you the longer they talk? Do you feel an obligation
to let society know what you are doing and why? If so, come learn techniques for creating an engaging presentation. These tips will not only work for talking with the public and the news media but also for increasing the engagement quality of job seminars and conference presentations. One workshop might not make you an outstanding communicator, but you should be able to recognize when you are not communicating well and how to get back on track.

3 Minute Thesis Overview: What does a winning presentation look like? - February 21, 2018
Forget all you know about giving scientific presentations – a 3 Minute Thesis audience is different. You must have an emotional argument to support your scientific argument.
In this workshop, we will explore why researchers have to communicate with the general public and we will cover the basics of what it takes to prepare a winning 3-minute thesis presentation that is accessible, visually appealing, and engaging

Interview of Dr. Mason about the 3MT competition

Past Year Winners

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