The University of Alabama

UA Graduate Students Step Up for 3MT Finals

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It’s a knock-down, drag-out, winner-takes-all battle royal at the finals of The University of Alabama’s 3-Minute Thesis competition at 6 p.m. Nov. 20 in Russell Hall, room 159.

OK, that’s an exaggeration. But the battle for thousands in prize money and the chance to represent the University in a national competition is pretty serious.

Fifteen finalists will each have three minutes to present their research in a way that’s approachable and relatable to everyday people. The winner heads to San Antonio, as UA’s representative in the Southeastern regional 3MT competition. 3MT is designed to help graduate students share their research in layman’s terms, so that their work can be more accessible.

“We are so excited that the University has embraced this project,” said Dr. Cori Perdue, programs director in UA’s Graduate School. “The response has been terrific.”

The 15 finalists are Alireza G. Kashani (civil, construction, environmental engineering), Julia Stevens (biological sciences), Stephen J. Carter (kinesiology), Jonathan Stone (geological sciences), Gregory Dye (chemistry), Suja Rajan (biological sciences), Steven Kelley (chemistry), Janet L. Bavonese (curriculum and instruction), Amber Wagner (computer science), Freda Coleman-Reed (social work), Will Guin (civil, construction, environmental engineering), Catherine Winn (English), Rami Ajurri (biological sciences), Joseph Meany (chemistry), and Andrew Tuggle (physics and astronomy).

The first-place winner receives $1,500 in prize money from the Graduate School and the Graduate Student Association and an all-expenses paid trip to San Antonio, Texas to represent the University at the Council of Southern Graduate Schools annual meeting, Feb. 20-23, in San Antonio, Texas, while second prize is $1,050. Third place and fourth place receive $700 and $250 respectively, and a people’s choice award—voted on by the audience—receives $950.

3MT originated in Australia, but now more than 21 universities in the United States are active in the thesis competition. This is the University’s first time fielding competitors.

“You have 180 seconds to break your thesis down into a concept that anyone can understand,” said Dr. David Francko, dean of the Graduate School.  “You have to see the big picture and be able to think backwards to explain your concept. It’s a challenge. For our first time doing this, we are very happy. The response has been excellent, with approximately 100 students competing at the departmental level, and our graduate students have risen to the challenge.”

The competition is atypical in that it does not separate competitors by fields. It is, in the truest sense, an open competition among doctoral students.

Admission to the finals is free and open to the public.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.