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Graduate students present research in competition

| Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Notre Dame graduate students from the Colleges of Arts and Letters, Engineering and Science will present their research in the final round of Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) on Wednesday night in the Jordan Auditorium in a competition to win $1,000. 

Evan Bryson, communications specialist for the graduate school and publicity coordinator for 3MT Notre Dame, said the competition provided graduate students with a unique opportunity.

“It’s this opportunity for graduate students, in a competitive space, to describe the fantastic research they’re doing here,” Bryson said. “I feel like this is a quality contest because I don’t think graduate students really have a public forum at Notre Dame to describe the work that they do, especially with each other and with undergrads and with people from the community. We’re framing it as a celebration of their research.”

3MT originated at the University of Queensland in Australia as an academic competition for Ph.D. students. It has since spread to more than 35 research universities in the United States, including many of Notre Dame’s peers, according to Bryson.

Competitors in the finals have been preparing since mid-January.

“It was pretty strict this year, with what was regulating entries,” Bryson said. “You had to have passed your candidacy exams, you had to be well in your way in a Ph.D.; you couldn’t be a master’s student. You had to be dissertating or, at least, working towards a dissertation. Really, this was just a gate for people who were deep in their research and had something to share.”

Nine Ph.D. students — three from each of the colleges — will be presenting in the finals, selected from over 30 presenters in the preliminary rounds.

“I sat in on all of them and it was really fun,” Bryson said. “Part of this experience is getting graduate students to be able to talk about their research in a way that isn’t specific to other researchers, that isn’t just a conversation they’re having with their lab, but is something you or I could understand, that anyone coming into the competition would want to hear about because it’s set up in such a way that’s jargon-free and that’s general enough for a non-specialized audience and is also captivating.”

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Bend Brew Werks co-founder and owner Drew Elegante, Trustee of the South Bend Community School Corporation Maritza Robles and Dean of the Graduate School Laura Carlson are the judges who will choose the first- and second-place winners; attendees will vote for the third-place winner. Lou Nanni, Notre Dame vice president of university relations, will be the master of ceremonies.

The first-place winner will represent the University at a conference in April.

“This really is just promoting really fascinating research that’s happening on campus that I think anyone would be interested in hearing about,” Bryson said. “The people who are presenting are fascinating individuals with diverse backgrounds. They’re intense scholars and it’s mesmerizing to listen to people who are experts.”

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley was Assistant Managing Editor for The Observer. She majored in English and the Program of Liberal Studies and hailed from Flushing, Michigan.

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