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York postgraduate students have three minutes to impress

Posted on 9 June 2014

Postgraduate research students will take to the stage at the University of York this week to explain their research in just three minutes.

York PhD student Frank Soboczenski, from the Department of Computer Science, won the national competition in 2013. Credit: Ollie Jenkins, Leeds University Union.

The York Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition on Thursday, 12 June will involve 10 researchers presenting their 80,000-word theses on topics including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis; solar energy; developing games to teach five-year-olds to read; and school uniforms past, present and future, in just 180 seconds.

The public event challenges the students to present their work in an engaging way, using plain and simple English.

The winner of the York competition this week will go forward to the semifinals of the National 3MT competition, which will be hosted by Vitae and the University of York in July.

This will involve doctoral researchers from 35 UK institutions taking part in Three Minute Thesis (3MT), an academic competition designed to improve participants’ presentation and communication skills and raise awareness of their research area.

The York winner will hope to follow in the footsteps of fellow York PhD student Frank Soboczenski, from the Department of Computer Science, who won the national competition in 2013.

The University has issued an open invitation to schools, businesses, alumni and members of the public to act as audience members and to help choose the winners at the York events.

Jenn Chubb, from the University’s Researcher Development Team, said: “For the audience it promises to be a great event, offering a real insight into the diversity of research being carried out at York.

“The 3MT competition is a very valuable experience for our postgraduate students as it provides them with the opportunity to develop their presentation and research communication skills. Being able to explain often complex research to a lay audience is important as it allows the development of world leading research that has impact on society.”

The York 3MT competition, organised by the University’s Researcher Development Team, in collaboration with the GSA and Ron Cooke Hub, is just one of a suite of training events aimed at equipping doctoral researchers with professional and transferable skills.

The York 3MT will take place on Thursday, 12 June from 10.30am to 2pm at the Law and Management building, Room LMB/002X, on the University of York’s Heslington East campus.

The event will also include two public lectures from York academics, Dr Kate Giles, Department of Archaeology and Dr Phil Lightfoot, Department of Physics. Dr Giles will discuss ‘Antiquarian research and digital heritage modelling: new methods for researching medieval wall paintings’, while Dr Lightfoot’s lecture is on ‘80% of the Universe is missing - the search for Dark matter'.

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Admission is by free ticket. To book a place visit

Further information:

  • The 10 York finalists and their research topics are:
    Amir Dehsarvi, Department of Electronics: Scary Maths and Photos: A new way to diagnose brain diseases?
    Adelle Hay, Department of Physics: Why is a nuclear reactor like a writing desk?
    Danielle Jowett, Department of Chemistry: Solar Power: Energy of the future
    Sindhu Krishna, Department of Chemistry: Golden Power, energy from bacteria
    Catherine Laing, Department of Language and Linguistics: “What does the cow say?” and what can it do for us?
    Bob Phillips, Department of Health Sciences: Predicting life-threatening infections in children with cancer
    Aderiana Mbandi, Environment Department: An air of injustice?
    Ruth Mace, Department of Education: Fun, Phonics and Shakespeare
    Rasha Salah El-Din, Department of Computer Science: The Human Factors in Mobile Phishing
    Kate Stephenson, Department of History: Blazers and Gymslips: School Uniform Past, Present and Future
  • The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland, Australia.

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