Press Release

PhD students compete in first online Three Minute Thesis competition

Published on 19 June 2020

PhD student Elizabeth Mills will represent the University of Dundee in a national competition challenging early-career researchers to explain their work quickly and effectively to non-specialist audiences.

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Elizabeth Mills

PhD student Elizabeth Mills will represent the University of Dundee in a national competition challenging early-career researchers to explain their work quickly and effectively to non-specialist audiences.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition challenges doctoral candidates to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research topic and its significance in just three minutes.

This is the first time the University has hosted the annual competition online but even in these unusual circumstances the 13 candidates rose to the occasion, showcasing their research with gripping presentations accompanied by a single slide.

Elizabeth was presented with her award online by Professor David Maguire, Interim Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University. Her interdisciplinary PhD in Dundee’s School of Science and Engineering explores how to make novel concrete surfaces that can be placed into the sea to help reduce the settlement of marine invasive species.

Elizabeth, who has entered the competition every year since beginning her PhD in 2018, will now go on to represent the University in the national 3MT semi-final against doctoral candidates from across the country.

“Throughout my PhD I have been avidly communicating science through my YouTube channelwebsite, science festivals and public speaking competitions,” said Elizabeth, who was recently a UK Finalist in FameLab, a national science communication competition.

“I would love to continue interdisciplinary research in both marine biology and engineering as well as to continue my scientific communication. I really believe research and learning how to communicate your science well go hand in hand. It’s so important to be able to share and engage others in the research you are doing.

“The competition is tough – having to fit three years of your life into three minutes is never easy. But it pushes you to learn the really important parts of your research and to become confident at public speaking. Everyone involved is really supportive, especially this year during lockdown, so it’s an experience I have looked forward to every year.

“If anyone even has an inkling they want to enter the competition, just go for it. The University provides great training, and the experience is an excellent way to improve your presentation skills and gives you the opportunity to look at your PhD thesis in a new light, which can also help focus your research.

“You might not win, but keep going back, keep learning and keep listening to feedback. This is a competition you can only do whilst you’re doing your PhD thesis, so make the most of it each year.”

The 3MT competition is designed to help communicate complex research to a non-specialist audience and challenge researchers to consolidate the most interesting and relevant aspects of their projects.

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, Director of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, said, “We are delighted to work with the University’s Doctoral Academy and External Relations team to once again host the Three Minute Thesis competition.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our PhD students to showcase their work in a truly accessible and engaging way and they all did a fantastic job in rising to that challenge”

The competition was founded at the University of Queensland in 2008 and was first hosted at the University of Dundee three years ago.

The live final will take place during the Vitae International Researcher Development Conference in Birmingham on 14 September 2020.

Elizabeth's winning video can be found here.

Enquiries

Hannah Adams

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 385131

hadams001@dundee.ac.uk

Story category

Student work/achievement