Three Minute Thesis: The Art of the Fast Pitch

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What’s arguably as important as spending years researching, developing and writing a dissertation?

Learning how to share your insight and analysis of that work briefly, powerfully and creatively.

That’s exactly what 15 Stony Brook University graduate students did last month as part of a program sponsored by the Graduate Student Organization, the Career Center and the Graduate School and supported by The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. The Three Minute Thesis competition, or 3MT as it is also known, challenges graduate students to present their dissertation findings to an audience in 180 seconds.

Their tools: their words, their knowledge and a single PowerPoint slide.

The 3MT is an international event founded at the University of Queensland in Australia to teach grad students how to pitch research projects by sharpening their communication skills. Among the key objectives of the coaches from the nationally renowned Alda Center was to show the students how to make their message vivid and engaging while still communicating the essential points.

The prizes awarded at the event, held on March 31 at the Charles B. Wang Center on campus, were donated by the Alumni Association, with $500 going to the winner (Zoya Vallari, PhD candidate in Physics), $300 for second place (Rajapillai Pillai, PhD candidate in Neuroscience) and $100 for third place (Elizabeth Trimber, PhD candidate in Psychology – Cognitive Science). A People’s Choice Award was shared by Vallari, Trimber and Pratik Kumar, PhD candidate in Chemistry.

The video below explores the program and competition, featuring a few of the graduate students who participated, the event’s big winner Vallari and the organizers who helped to put a little language to their big ideas.

 – Matthew Melucci

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