Three Minute Thesis winners heading to Eastern finals at McGill


It’s not easy to condense months or even years of work and condense it into a brief 180-second presentation, but that’s what a group of Saint Mary’s students managed to do at the recent Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Hosted by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the annual event saw 13 Saint Mary’s Masters students and PhD candidates explain their research in just three minutes with just one static Powerpoint slide, no other props or aids.

 “Competitors in the 3MT Thesis competition learn how to communicate their ideas succinctly, how to own the stage and perform under intense pressure. These are all good learning outcomes for graduate students,” said organizer Dr. Colleen Barber, Associate Dean, Student Affairs, Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

“It challenges students to condense their thesis topic into something that can be explained within three minutes. And to do so while they are nervous...and to a non-expert audience,” said Dr. Barber.

Topics at the Saint Mary’s competition were varied, ranging from Christian social entrepreneurship, to polyamory in pop culture, to the informal financial sector and food security of farmers in Uganda, and traffic management in Bangladesh. 

PhD candidate Blair John won the top prize and advances to the Eastern Region finals at McGill. Winners from Quebec and Atlantic Canada will compete there to earn a spot at the national 3MT competition.

Program Description

Founded in 2008 by the University of Queensland in Australia, The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is a global competition that cultivates graduate students' academic, presentation and research communication skills. Presenting in a 3MT competition increases their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. 3MT competitions are now held in over 600 universities in 65 countries around the world.

Three Faculty of Science students took home the top awards:

  • Blair John, PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (Advisor: Nicolas Roulin) won the first prize of $750 and the opportunity to compete at the 3-minute thesis challenge (Easterns) in Montreal at McGill University. His presentation was “Catching the fakers: Exploring New Methods to Identify Applicant Faking in Interviews.”

  • Kristina Pope, MSc Applied Psychology (I/O Psychology), (Supervisor: Dr. Debra Gilin) placed second, winning $500 for her presentation “Conflict Impact: Addressing Conceptual Challenges of Using a Typology to Define Conflict Incidents.”

  • Amy Heim, PhD Applied Science, Biology (Supervisor: Dr. Jeremy Lundholm) won the People’s Choice Award for her presentation “Functional Plant Traits and Community Assembly: Stress, Heterogeneity and Phenology.”