Claire Mindus and Anita Luu in front of the University of Guelph entrance sign
Claire Mindus (left) and Anita Luu (right)

With just 180 seconds on the clock and one slide to work from, 11 grad students recently competed for the chance to win a $1,000 prize and the opportunity to move on to the 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) provincial rounds.

In this annual competition, students use plain language to present their graduate thesis to a panel of judges within three minutes.

Top prize and the Community Choice award went to Claire Mindus, Animal Biosciences, whose thesis explored the use of probiotic bacteria to reduce feather pecking in chickens. The Community Choice award is voted on by the public.

“Researchers have this habit of using a lot of jargon, always questioning their results and compiling an enormous amount of information in an attempt to give the ‘full picture,’” says Mindus. “Communication skills are extremely important for students not only as part of their academic skills but also for their future careers.”

The competition usually takes place on campus, but under COVID-19 restrictions, students were required to submit video recordings.

“As with other years, I came away from watching the 3MT videos with new knowledge and a better sense of the diversity of research completed across campus,” says Dr. Ben Bradshaw, associate vice-president (graduate studies).

“This year, however, with 15 months of pandemic weighing heavily on many of us, witnessing the students’ evident pride and abundant energy captured in three minutes of home-recorded videos was genuinely revitalizing.”

Second place went to Anita Luu, Biomedical Sciences, for her presentation on bone cancer in dogs. Valerie Bauman placed third for her presentation on using artificial intelligence to improve control in motion assistive devices.

Recordings of competitors’ presentations are available on U of G’s Three-Minute Thesis website.

“It is a great event, and I am grateful for our graduate students’ continued embrace of it, even in challenging times,” says Bradshaw.

This year’s judges were Kim Cusimano, executive director at The People and Information Network; Jim Estill, CEO of Danby Appliances; Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario and MPP for Guelph; and Diane Squires, partner at SmithValeriote law firm.

“I am really proud that my work was acknowledged throughout this 3MT competition and loved to see all the diverse research being conducted at the University,” says Mindus.