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Three minute thesis: York psychology student through to UK semi-finals

Posted on 16 June 2015

A University of York psychology postgraduate will compete in the national semi-finals of the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, hosted by Vitae.

James Strachan

James Strachan, a second year PhD student in Psychology, won the York 3MT competition by presenting his work on perceptions of trustworthiness to an audience made up of school pupils, teachers, and members of the general public and industry.

Taking place at the Law and Management Building on Heslington East campus, the 3MT competition challenges ten research students to communicate the impact of their research in just three minutes, using one PowerPoint slide. Designed to improve participants’ presentation and communication skills, the public event raises awareness of their research area to a general audience.

The University of York finalists are: James Strachan, Psychology (first place), Jess Morgan, Health Sciences (second place) and Jenny Fell, Health Sciences (third place).

James Strachan said: “In my research, I am looking at how we make social decisions about someone, and whether these decisions are always fully thought-out. My work so far indicates how we can actually systematically change how trustworthy you find a face simply by making the face look in different directions.

“Having to talk about my work in three minutes has really helped to remind me of the novelty and potential impact of my work, which after two years of full immersion in the area is all too important to remember. It’s an experience that helps streamline your research question, and also gives a - sometimes much needed - reality check of what’s going on outside of your comparatively tiny bubble of a PhD.”

Karen Clegg, Director of the Research and Innovation Development Team at the University of York, said: “This is the fourth year we have run the 3MT event.  The competition develops participants' ability to explain their research in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience. This is vitally important in demonstrating the contribution that research makes to wider society and the economy.”

James Strachan will now compete in the national 3MT semi-final, uploading his presentation online where it will be subject to public vote from 6 – 31 July. If successful, he will perform at the live final at the International Vitae conference in Manchester on 8 - 9 September. All ten York finalists will also have the opportunity to take part in Yornight (European Researchers' Night) on 25 September.

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