Three graduate students walked away winners from the 2021 Ohio University Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition finals hosted by the Graduate College on March 24.

“The Three-Minute Thesis competition showcases the phenomenal research our OHIO graduate students are doing,” stated Becky Bushey-Miller, director of communications {and professional} growth within the Graduate College.

This is the sixth 12 months that OHIO has participated in 3MT, which is now a worldwide phenomenon.

“At some point in their careers, graduate students will need to explain to others what their research includes. This competition helps these graduate students by requiring them to prepare professional presentations succinctly for a non-expert audience. No one knows their research like they do. The challenge is describing its purpose and importance to someone else in a limited amount of time with a single PowerPoint slide,” Bushey-Miller stated.

Fourteen students competed this 12 months, utilizing their three minutes to current a compelling oration on their thesis or dissertation to a panel of OHIO judges. Cash prizes got to the highest three opponents: $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place.

Graduate student Cassandra Thompson working at the Aquatic Mesocosm Research Facility.
Graduate scholar Cassandra Thompson working on the Aquatic Mesocosm Research Facility. Photo by Ben Siegel.

First place went to Cassandra Thompson for her venture on “Pesticides: The Good, The Bad, The Frogs.”

“I’ve always had a passion for SciComm, which made this a great exercise to put communication skills to work!” stated Thompson, who’s engaged on ending her dissertation after which hitting the job market in 2022. 

“When giving a presentation, it’s important to gauge your audience ahead of time so you know how to set the stage and what jargon is appropriate. It’s always challenging to articulate your research in a way that anyone, without your background, can understand, but it’s such an important skill to have! The end goal for our research is to publish and share results with the community. I don’t want my research to be limited to scientists in my field, but to be widely available and accessible, which is where science communication exercises like this come into play. It is especially difficult to fit your research into three minutes, though. It’s essentially an elevator pitch!” she stated.

“Invasive species are sadly pervasive throughout our panorama. One specifically that has made its method into Ohio is the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, which has killed tens of millions of Eastern Hemlocks throughout North America. The commonest apply to fight this invasive is thru the usage of a neonicotinoid pesticide referred to as Imidacloprid, which is commonly sprayed across the base of contaminated timber, resulting in runoff into close by our bodies of water, the place amphibians could also be breeding,” she stated about her analysis matter. 

Thompson studied the pesticide’s impact on a typical North American amphibian, the wooden frog.

“My 3MT was titled ‘Pesticides: The Good, The Bad, & The Frogs.’ So, the good is that imidacloprid is efficient at controlling the unfold of hemlock wooly adelgid, however the unhealthy is that it may well negatively have an effect on amphibian populations at a number of and important life levels. Luckily, there’s something we are able to do for the frogs. We can higher handle the kind of pesticide utility through the use of tree injections rather than the extra frequent soil drenching methodology, which not solely has simpler uptake of imidacloprid by the hemlocks, but additionally has little to no runoff into close by our bodies of water. But it’s a dearer apply to contemplate in administration selections. The premise of this analysis is knowing that sure, invasives are unhealthy, however realizing that we now have to grasp the tradeoffs of utilizing a pesticide like imidacloprid and the results it may well have on susceptible species, like amphibians, with the intention to higher inform administration selections within the struggle towards invasives just like the hemlock wooly adelgid,” Thompson defined. 

Graduate student Marissa Dyck
Graduate scholar Marissa Dyck.

Second place went to Marissa Dyck, who spoke about “Assessing population viability of Ohio’s recovering bobcats (Lynx rufus).”

Her three-minute thesis targeted on her analysis assessing inhabitants viability of Ohio’s recovering bobcats. She included street mortality, habitat suitability and estimates of demographic charges to mannequin a present and a proposed trapping state of affairs for Ohio’s bobcats. Her outcomes indicated that Ohio’s bobcat inhabitants seems to be rising, and neither state of affairs predicted extinction for Ohio’s bobcats within the subsequent 40 years. Dyck and collaborators are working with the Ohio Division of Wildlife to discover extra eventualities that can inform administration selections.

“The hardest thing about synthesizing my research into a three-minute presentation was deciding what details of the process were crucial to understanding the research. With such a short presentation, you must leave some details out, and that was difficult because the modeling approach we used was very complex, with a lot of work and people contributing and collecting the data for it, and I unfortunately wasn’t able to highlight everyone’s contributions,” says Dyck, including that her 3MT presentation encompasses one chapter of her dissertation.

Both Thompson and Dyck are learning ecology and evolutionary biology within the College of Arts & Sciences and are mentored by Dr. Viorel Popescu, assistant professor of biological sciences.


Graduate student Xianlong Zeng with baby
Graduate scholar Xianlong Zeng together with his new child.

Third place went to Xianlong Zeng for his venture on “Medical Risk Prediction Using Deep Learning.” Zeng is learning laptop science within the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. His adviser is Chang Lui, professor of electrical engineering and computer science.

“My 3MT topic is about teaching AI to identify patients with high medical risk automatically—i.e., find patients who are likely to spend a lot of money in the coming future,” stated Zeng, who’s at the moment making ready his dissertation.

“Hopefully, I can land a job on the West Coast within the close to future and fly there with a ‘Dr.’ on the ticket,” he stated.

His household grew by one not too long ago, and Zeng stated his new child was a part of his 3MT preparation.

“I wrote down the words in advance and kept rehearsing until I no longer needed to glance at the writing. I repeated it so many times that my baby’s first word out of mouth might be 3MT,” he added.

The judges for the ultimate spherical had been:

  • Dr. Kelly Broughton, assistant dean, University Libraries
  • Dr. Christopher Hayes, affiliate dean, College of Fine Arts
  • Dr. Sara Helfrich, affiliate dean, Patton College of Education
  • Dr. Brian McCarthy, affiliate dean, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. Joseph Shields, vp of analysis and artistic exercise and dean of the Graduate College


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