Graduate School

Grad students take home big prizes in 3-Minute Thesis competition


For additional coverage of the event, including photos, reactions and more, visit the Graduate Student Government 3MT page here.

Chemistry Ph.D. candidate Charini Maladeniya challenged her fear of public speaking, and it paid off in the form of a $1,000 first-place finish in Clemson’s 2022 3-Minute Thesis competition held in November. Maladeniya, who presented her research into transforming roses, plastics, and industrial waste into renewable, recyclable building materials, said the competition went a long way toward “vanquishing the fear” of speaking in front of audiences. She will represent Clemson at the regional competition held in February.

More than two dozen graduate students representing every college summarized and explained the relevance of their research in three minutes or less and were judged on clarity, presentation, and more. The Ph.D. candidate* runner-up was Yasir Mahmood (mechanical engineering) who took home $500 for his efforts. In the graduate student category* Rose Marie Somers (agricultural sciences) took the $1,000 first prize and Mandeep Tayal (plant and environmental sciences) took the $500 second prize.

A young woman stands between a man and woman. The man holds a framed plaque and the two women hold a large check that reads "Rose Marie Somers. $1000."

Rose Marie Somers, agricultural sciences graduate student and winner of her division (center), is pictured at the awards ceremony with panel participants and judges Harold Hughes (left, founder and CEO of Bandwagon) and Patricia Randall (right, director of Princeton Consultants). Randall and Hughes both earned graduate degrees at Clemson.

*A Ph.D. (or doctoral) candidate is a graduate student who has completed all the requirements of a doctoral program except writing and defending a dissertation. The “graduate student” category includes all other doctoral students, and all master’s and specialist’s degree students. Videos of the winners’ presentations will be posted to YouTube in the coming days.

Kenzie Hurley (psychology) was recognized as the audience favorite with the CURF 3MT People’s Choice Award, presented by Chase Kasper, senior deputy director of the Clemson University Research Foundation, which sponsored the $250 prize.

Sponsored at Clemson by Graduate Student Government (GSG), GSG’s Research Initiatives Committee, the Graduate School, the Vice President for Research, the Office of the Provost, and the colleges, the competition encourages students to develop and hone communication skills they need as professionals but often don’t focus on as part of their usual studies. Founded at the University of Queensland, 3MT has become a national hallmark of graduate schools across the globe.

The evening before the event, GSG hosted a discussion panel that examined the similarities and differences in research in academia and in industry. The panel of Clemson alumni and faculty discussed their diverse experiences and answered questions from the hosts and the audience. “The turnout was great,” said Graduate School Associate Dean Marieke Van Puymbroeck. “We want to support and facilitate our students’ use of research in all of their diverse career paths, whether that’s academia, industry, government, or something else.”