The task was daunting: talk about your work, study, sweat and tears that represent years and countless hours of personal sacrifice in under three minutes, but 47 graduate students tried their hand at the 2018-2019 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition at Clemson University.
On November 2, 2018, in front of a crowd in the Watt Center auditorium, James Foster took the top prize in the doctoral candidate category for talking about innovative materials being developed to screen water sources for plutonium. In a graduate student category, Joshua Osuofa won for his presentation about new molecular filters that could lead to faster production of chemical compounds used in medicines.
Three Minute Thesis, founded at the University of Queensland, has become a national hallmark of graduate schools across the United States. Sponsored at Clemson by Graduate Student Government, the competition gives students an opportunity to develop and hone communication skills they need as professionals but often don’t focus on as part of their usual studies.
Foster will represent the university in the regional 3MT competition February 14-16, 2019, in Knoxville, Tennessee at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. There is not a regional competition for graduate students.
See a list of runners up here.
Foster and Osuofa are part of Scott Husson’s lab in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences.
Most of Husson’s research group competed this year, Foster said.
“I wanted to see at least one of us placing in the finals, and needless to say I was extremely excited that both Josh and I were able to take first place in the competition,” Foster said. “We spent the past week going from office-to-office practicing our 3-minute thesis with the (chemical and biomolecular) faculty and graduate students, so I don’t think we could have done so well without the support of everyone in the department. I’m hoping in the future we can keep a ‘streak’ going of CHBe or Husson group members placing in the finals!”
“I am incredibly proud of James and Josh for this accomplishment,” Husson said. “The 3MT event continues to be an excellent opportunity for our students to showcase their research and its significance and for attendees to learn about the breadth of research being conducted at the University. Receiving awards in this competition is an indication of James’ and Josh’s hard work, confidence in their ideas, and ability to inspire a diverse audience.”
“GSG Research initiatives would like to thank our sponsors: Dean Jason Osborne and the Graduate School, Vice President Tanju Karanfil and the Division of Research, the GSG and all the colleges for their vital support and commitment to the graduate students’ professional development. We are immensely grateful for our judges, volunteers and attendees who made this 2018 3MT competition a great success,” said Jaime Idarraga-Mora, president of Clemson’s GSG.
“Since we started in 2014, we are seeing an increasing trend in both presenters and judges looking to participate in 3MT and we are confident that next year will be even better,” Idarraga-Mora said. “Finally, our congratulations to the winners, Josh and James! Personally, I was witnessed of their effort and preparation during the days before the competition, and it was a joy to see them finish at the top.”
This year’s competition included a 3MT bootcamp, sponsored by the Graduate School’s GRAD 360 professional development program for graduate students and postdocs. Participants learned presentation techniques from 2013-2014 co-winner Namrata Sengupta, a Clemson environmental toxicology doctoral alumna who now works as a professional science communicator at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and Meghnaa Tallapragada, assistant professor of strategic communication at Clemson and a former Vartan Gregorian Postdoctoral Fellow of Science and Science Communication at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
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