College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; Graduate School

Clemson Ph.D. student named regional 3-Minute Thesis champ; moves on to North American showcase


Clemson University’s Vishal Thomas, a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering, took top honors in the Three-Minute Thesis®—or 3MT—regional competition held during the Conference of Southern Graduate School’s annual meeting last week in Greenville.

Thomas’ win in this regional event, where he competed against 3MT winners from more than 60 universities in the southern region, means he will represent Clemson and the CSGS Southern Region at the Council of Graduate Schools’ North American annual meeting, scheduled for December in St. Louis. He won Clemson’s own 3MT competition last semester to earn his shot at the regional title.

In the 3MT competition, students must summarize and explain the significance of their research in three minutes or less, using only one static slide to support their talk to a general audience. A panel of judges evaluates participants based on criteria such as comprehension, engagement, and communication effectiveness. In the preliminary heats, the field was winnowed down to 13 finalists who competed in a final round.

Thomas’ winning presentation, titled “A Novel Implant for Cartilage Repair,” delved into his work to create and implement a more durable and better-functioning knee implant made from a novel biomaterial. He recently discussed his research on FOX Carolina’s Access Carolina show (see video here).

Judges represented the media (Carol Clarke and Sydney Shadrix of WYFF; Blair Knobel of Vessel Magazine and the Knobel Media Group; Margaret Burnquist of FOX Carolina); government (Robert Halfacre, mayor of Clemson; Logan Kipling, U. S. Senate communications and outreach staffer; Russell Stall, Greenville city council member), and Annie Sutton, director of Anderson County Library System), industry (Pat Randall and Robert Randall of Princeton Consultants and the Graduate School’s advisory board; Britton Swingle from Michelin; David Stefanich of Rymedi) and higher education administration (Council of Graduate Schools President Suzanne OrtegaAriel Turner from Clemson Libraries and Kim Banks, Clemson’s director of communications for academic affairs). Clarke, Ortega, and Knobel judged the final round.

Thomas is the Department of Bioengineering’s Frank H. Stelling and C. Dayton Riddle Orthopedic Doctoral Scholar, recipient of the Michael A. Zebuhr Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Graduate Research from the Department of Bioengineering, a lab manager in Jeremy Mercuri’s OrthO-X lab, an instructor of record for engineering graphics and machine design, and president pro tempore of the Graduate Student Government.

Vishalt Thomas appears on local news station to explain his research