Student success in Dundee’s Three Minute Thesis competition

Published on 2 August 2021

PhD student Anna will represent the University of Dundee in Three Minute Thesis (3MT), a national competition for early career researchers to explain their work succinctly and engagingly to non-specialist audiences

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Participants must present a spoken presentation on their research topic and explain its significance in just three minutes.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the competition has been held online, and this year 55 doctoral candidates took the opportunity to share their research and potentially represent the University at the 3MT quarter-finals.

Anna Sanchez Avila, from the University's School of Medicine, was presented with her award online by Professor John Rowan, Vice-Principal (Research, Knowledge Exchange & Wider Impact).

“Anna is truly an inspirational post graduate researcher," he said. "She powerfully and persuasively explained her contribution to brain function research and her metaphor of stars in the universe as examples of connections in the brain will live with me always.”

Anna added, “This was my second year participating in the 3MT, I have enjoyed both of them so much. I think it is a great exercise to look back on your thesis, essentially 3 years of your work, and condense them into 3 minutes. But more so, thinking on how to convey your message to a non-scientific audience is very challenging but so necessary.

“I believe part of good science is also being able to communicate it to others, which is why I encourage all PhD students considering trying this to give it a go. It is a great format, fantastically organised and a wonderful opportunity to learn. Scientific communication is something I’m very passionate about and it is so rewarding to see all the effort having such an amazing reward!”

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, Director of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, said, “Being able to present your research work in a succinct, understandable and engaging way is an extremely important skill. The competition is very challenging and it was fantastic to see so many brilliant presentations coming from across the University of Dundee.’

At the University's virtual final, 6 PhD students presented their work to a public audience. The University of Dundee runner-up for 2021 was Bill Carton, PhD student at The MRC Protein Phosphorylation & Ubiquitylation Unit.

The 3MT competition was founded at the University of Queensland in 2008 and was first hosted at the University of Dundee in 2018. The UK competition is hosted by Vitae.


Press Office, University of Dundee