Press release

Sperm research a fertile subject for competition success

Published on 3 August 2022

A PhD student at the University of Dundee is using a national competition to bring life to the subject of male infertility and shed light on the sensitive subject

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PhD student Cara Nicholson 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.

The University was able to welcome participants back to complete their presentations in person this year in front of judges and an audience. The nine students showcased their research with gripping presentations accompanied by a single slide.

Cara was presented with her award by Professor John Rowan, Vice Principal of Research, Knowledge Exchange and Wider Impact. Her interdisciplinary PhD in Dundee’s School of Medicine. explores the intricacies of sperm development and how the make-up of sperm can impact fertility.

She has subsequently gone on to represent the University in the national 3MT semi-final against doctoral candidates from across the country, with the results of the final to be released shortly.

Cara said, “I had considered entering the competition the previous year, so I had decided this was going to be my year. I wanted to enter the competition because science communication is more important than ever.

“My research focuses on male infertility and the role of sperm in fertilisation and when it goes wrong. This can be a very emotive topic so it’s essential to be able to communicate my research effectively.

“I attended a lot of training sessions to prepare for the competition. I was given lots of tips to elevate the communication of my research. Another motivator for me was being able to explain my research to family. My grandad really wanted to understand the work I am doing.

“For the next stage of the competition I submitted a video presentation and will hear back about the results soon. I am so grateful to have to opportunity to communicate my research with such excellent competitors.”

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 live final will take place during the Vitae International Researcher Development Conference virtually on 15 September 2022.


Hannah Adams

Media Relations Officer

+44 (0)1382 385131