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National competition success for York postgraduate student

Posted on 28 June 2013

A University of York postgraduate student has scooped the top prize in a national competition after inspiring judges with a three-minute presentation on his research into reducing number-entry errors in medical devices.

PhD student Frank Soboczenski receiving his national award from Josh Smith, Education Officer at Leeds University Union last year. Credit: Ollie Jenkins, Leeds University Union.

Frank Soboczenski, a PhD student from the Department of Computer Science, won the inaugural 3 Minute Thesis UK Competition and a £150 prize after facing strong competition from 14 other postgraduate students from across the country.

Hosted by the Leeds University Union, the competition challenged researchers to communicate the impact of their work in just three minutes using plain and simple English. 

Frank’s research focuses on understanding what errors people make when entering numbers in medical devices and how we can make these devices safer to use. While typing errors in general are little more than an inconvenience, in healthcare a small error can have serious consequences.

I think being a good communicator is immensely important because it gives researchers the ability to reach a wider, non-specialised audience

Frank Soboczenski

Frank said: “I found the 3 Minute Thesis competition challenging but also tremendously rewarding because it helped me to demonstrate what my research is about and what the potential impacts for society are. In addition, it was good to meet lots of people afterwards who were really excited about my work and wanted to know more, which in itself is rewarding.

“It was incredible to win particularly as all the other participants were really fantastic. I think being a good communicator is immensely important because it gives researchers the ability to reach a wider, non-specialised audience by explaining a sometimes very technical or difficult topic in an understandable or even amusing way.“

Frank took part in the competition alongside fellow York PhD students Ema Sullivan-Bissett, from the Department of Philosophy and Jennifer South-Palomares, from the Department of Psychology. Also taking part in the event were postgraduate students from the London School of Economics, Queen Mary University of London and the Universities of Glasgow, Leeds and Salford.

Competitors presented to a 140-strong audience, as well as judges Elizabeth Gibney, a science and research reporter with Times Higher Education, Dr Laura Bellingham, Assistant Director in Research, Information and Enquiry at the Quality Assurance Agency, and Dr Tony Bromley, Regional Advisor for Vitae in Yorkshire and the North East.

Dr Karen Clegg, Director of Researcher Development at the University of York, said: "We are delighted that Frank has won the first ever national 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) event. The competition was fierce with some exceptional presentations from PhD students across the country.

“The 3MT competition provides research students with the opportunity to develop their presentation and research communication skills by explaining their research to an intelligent but non-specialist audience. This is seen as important by the research councils and government in developing world leading research that has impact on society.” 

The three York researchers taking part in the national event previously competed in the University of York 3 Minute Thesis competition which was won by Ema Sullivan-Bissett.

The York competition, organised by the University’s Researcher Development Team, brought together 120 members of the public and sixth-form students from a number of schools. 3MT is just one of a suite of training events aimed at equipping doctoral researchers with professional and transferable skills.

Next year’s 3 Minute Thesis challenge will be hosted by the University of York in collaboration with Vitae.

Notes to editors:

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

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