3-Minute Thesis competition returns to GVSU

GVL / Courtesy - gvsu.edu    
Samantha Mackay (left) was awarded the “Outstanding Masters Thesis Award,” Award for Excellence in Service to Community/Profession,” and the “Award for Best 3 Minute Thesis Presentation for her accomplishments in 2016-17.

GVL / Courtesy – gvsu.edu Samantha Mackay (left) was awarded the “Outstanding Masters Thesis Award,” Award for Excellence in Service to Community/Profession,” and the “Award for Best 3 Minute Thesis Presentation” for her accomplishments in 2016-17.

Ita Tsai

Grand Valley State University’s third annual 3-Minute Thesis competition (3MT), where graduate students present their theses in front of the university community, will take place Thursday, Feb. 15, at 3:30 p.m. in the DeVos Center Loosemore Auditorium.

The rules of the competition require participants to present their topic within three minutes, utilizing a single static slide. Those who fail to comply with the rules will be disqualified from the competition. 

In order to participate, individuals must be current graduate students at GVSU completing independent research. Students have to present a brief explanation of what their research is about, along with a letter of recommendation from a faculty member.

The winner of the competition will receive a $500 cash prize as well as full funding to represent GVSU at the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) 3MT competition in Grand Rapids in April.

This year, 17 students are currently slated to participate in the contest from a variety of programs. 

“Three of them are doctoral students, and the rest are master’s students,” said Kelsey Stevenson,  special projects graduate assistant at The Graduate School at GVSU, who was interviewed when there were still 18 competitors scheduled. “The largest group of students come from the biology program, from which we have five students. Other programs include public health, criminal justice, biomedical sciences, social work, engineering.”

GVSU was called to partake in this competition by MAGS in 2016. The success of the first event has motivated its continuation.

“It’s a great way to show the campus community what our graduate students are doing and the impact of their research not just at Grand Valley but at state, regional, national and even international levels,” said Jennifer Palm, assistant to The Graduate School.

According to Palm, judges use two criteria. The first pertains to comprehension and presentation content, dealing with how the presenter explains their thesis to the audience. The second deals with the actual presentation, the verbal skills of the presenter and whether or not the audience is able to remain engaged.

“The competition is not only to improve their public speaking skills but also to dig deeper into how they can showcase their research to the community in unique ways,” Palm said. 

Samantha MacKay, 2017 winner of 3MT, shared her personal experience of being a participant in the contest.

“Most of us felt pretty stressed and nervous because we knew how high the stakes were,” MacKay said. “You only have three minutes to explain the research you’ve been working on for months or even years, and to try to summarize everything you’ve been doing in just three minutes to people that have no idea of what you’re doing in terms of research is really stressful and challenging.”

MacKay majored in biomedical sciences with a minor in Spanish at GVSU, and she completed a master’s degree in health science.

“My thesis looked into the long-term effects of an estrogen mimic, which is found in many daily household items, and how it affects aquatic life and its potential repercussions on humans,” MacKay said. “It not only contributed to exemplify my personal academic success, but it gave me further opportunities to foster my public speaking and presentation skills.

“It allowed me to go on to participate at a national level, which was an honor and (a) very interesting experience to be a part of.”

For more information on 3MT, visit www.gvsu.edu/gs/3-minute-thesis-competition-82.htm.