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SBU Three Minute Thesis Competition 2018

SBU 3MT promo Stony Brook again will celebrate our students' exciting PhD research with Three Minute Thesis 2018. Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT ® for short, is an opportunity for SBU graduate students to present their dissertation research findings to a general audience in THREE MINUTES with only one powerpoint slide. Three Minute Thesis is an international event founded at the University of Queensland. The goal is for students to engage all their communication skills to make their research vivid and engaging while emphasizing its key point without jargon. 

Graduate students who compete will receive specialized coaching. Speakers will work with coaches from the  Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. The nationally recognized Alda Center at Stony Brook works with researchers to help them communicate more effectively with the public, the media and others outside their own specialty. Selection as a speaker is a unique professional development opportunity that will enhance any student's skills and CV. While 3MT is a competition, SBU emphasizes the professional development derived from a cohort approach where students participate in small group coaching that encourages peer feedback and support.  

Prizes will be awarded.  A panel of judges will evaluate the talks for how well they achieve 3MT's   judging criteria. See an overview of SBU 3MT 2017 below in The Art of the Fast Pitch, as well as the winning talks from 1st place Zoya Vallari, 2nd Place Rajapillai Pillai, Third Place Elizabeth Trimber, and our People's Choice winners, Pratik Kumar, Elizabeth Trimber, and Zoya Vallari.


1st Place and People's Choice: Yi Zheng, Psychology 

Yi Zheng receives her award


2nd Place: Molly Graffam, SoMAS

Molly Graffam receives her award


3rd Place: Anusha Shankar, Ecology & Evolution

Anusha Shankar receives her award




Also, congratulations to all of our finalists! 

3MT 2018 finalists at the end of Round 2

From left to right: Vihitaben Patel, Kelly Jones, Yi Zheng, Estefania Vergara, Joanna Kim, Anusha Shankar, Lis Henderson, Molly Graffam


SBU 3MT: The Art of the Fast Pitch


Location:  Wang Center Lecture Halls 1 & 2

Date:    Friday, April 13, 2018

Time: 10:00 am—2:00 pm

This is event is free and open to the public.

Sponsors: Graduate Student Organization, Graduate School, the Career Center, Alumni Association, Center for Inclusive Education, and the Graduate Career Association. 
3MT is a model developed by the University of Queensland.

SBU 3MT 2018 AGENDA:  

9:30am-10:00am Coffee & Sign In Theater Lobby
10:00am-10:15am Welcome and Ground Rules Lecture Hall 2
  Welcoming Remarks: Charles Taber, Dean of the Graduate School, and 
Vice Provost for Graduate and Professional Education
10:30am-11:30am Round 1  
  Moderator:  Jinelle Wint, Graduate Student, MCB
Barbara J. Brennan, Social Welfare
Lis Henderson, School for Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
Kelly Hacker Jones, History
Chang Kyung (Joanna) Kim, Pharmacological Sciences
Anusha Shankar​, Ecology and Evolution​
Tatiana E. Tchoubar, Technology and Society
Yi Zheng, Psychology
Weibo Zhou, Economics
Lecture Hall 1
  Moderator:  Linda Padwa, Graduate Student, Science Education
Shrinath Deshpande, Mechanical Engineering
Molly Graffam, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
Stacey Greengold, Science Education
Corinna Kirsch, Art History
Tilsa Ore Monago, Economics
Vihitaben Patel, Biomedical Engineering
Martin Smyth, Technology and Society
Estefania Vergara, Economics
Jingming Wang, Pharmacological Sciences
Lecture Hall 2
11:30am-11:45am Break                  Theater Lobby
11:50am-12:50pm Round 2 Competitors Announced and Round 2 Begins
Moderator: Vahideh Rasekhi, Graduate Student, Linguistics
Lecture Hall 2
1:00pm-2:00pm Luncheon and Winners Announced
Awards presented by Alumni Association
Theater Lobby

Agenda subject to change.


Student Graduate Program Advisor Presentation Title
Barbara J. Brennan Social Welfare Shelly Cohen Siblings: The Hidden Casualities of the Opioid Epidemic
Shrinath Deshpande Mechanical Engineering Anurag Purwar Machine Design for Motion Tasks using Artificial Intelligence
Molly Graffam School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Nils Volkenborn Nitrogen - Public Water Enemy #1
Stacey Greengold Science Education Keith Sheppard Those Who Understand, Teach...Chemistry!
Lis Henderson School for Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Janet Nye How Fish Survive the Long Hot Summer
Kelly Hacker Jones History Nancy Tomes The Point of Alternative Medicine
Chang Kyung (Joanna) Kim Pharmacological Sciences Vincent W. Yang Trust your gut
Corinna Kirsch Art History Zabet Patterson  Life and Death in Art's First Computer Age
Tilsa Ore Monago Economics Yair Tauman Should you switch? On the race to make you stay
Vihitaben Patel Biomedical Engineering Clinton Rubin Good Vibrations: Buzzing Your Way to Metabolic Fitness
Anusha Shankar​ Ecology and Evolution​ Catherine Graham Why Hummingbirds Peeing at Night is Exciting News
Martin Smyth Technology and Society Debra Dwyer Predicting Mass-Mobilization Political Phenomena
Tatiana E. Tchoubar Technology and Society Lori L. Scarlatos How Can People Get to Know Things? Cognitive Model of Virtual Information Communication
Estefania Vergara Economics Steven Stern Small Changes, Big Impact: Measuring and predicting the economic effects of changes in business games
Jingming Wang Pharmacological Sciences Hyungjin Kim Getting Cancer From Your Broken DNA
Yi Zheng Psychology Arthur Samuel How Do We Understand Foreign Accents?
Weibo Zhou Economics Meta Brown Family Structure Matters: How parents help pay for college study


Judging: The talks will be evaluated by a panel of judges from a range of backgrounds and disciplines for how well the speaker engages a general audience of non-specialists and can convey the excitement and innovation of their research without jargon or distortion.  See the full judging criteria.

Prizes: Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, plus a People's Choice award selected by the audience. Students must stay for the luncheon announcement to receive their award. 

1st prize: $750
2nd prize: $500
3rd prize: $250 
People's Choice: $100


Eligibility: Competitors must be SBU graduate students who have advanced to candidacy (G5 or equivalent), and their research must be at a stage where findings, preliminary conclusions, and broader impact can be discussed. Students may be in any disciplinary field. Those in the Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences are particularly encouraged to participate.  Students must affirm that their graduate advisor supports presentation of their research during speaker sign up.

  All speakers must commit to participating in three training sessions to be held on: March 6 AND March 20 AND April (2or3).*

Presentation Guidelines: Talks will be three minutes long and may include only one powerpoint slide. Speakers should craft a talk that distills the heart of their research for a general audience who may not be specialists, in the style of a  TED talk. Speakers will receive individualized coaching on their presentation from experts at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. See the official rules for more information.

Training Sessions: The first session on March 6 will provide an overview of best practices for honing one's message for a general audience. In the second and third sessions, speakers will receive coaching on their individual talks in small groups. For each session, speakers may indicate a preference for one of two small-group sessions. Session 2 date is March 20, and Session 3 dates are April 2 or 3. Speakers are expected to attend all three sessions, although students who have taken  JRN501: Distilling Your Message may opt out of Session 1.  See training dates and times below. Coaching takes place in small groups where peer feedback and support is encouraged while students workshop their draft presentations.

Speaker Sign Up Deadline:  Friday, February 23, 2018

Speaker Training Dates:   (Speakers are expected to commit to all three sessions*)

  • Session 1: Training: Your introduction to the Alda Center Method, March 6, 2018, 11:00am - 1:00pm 
  • Session 2: Coaching 1: Individualized coaching on your draft 3MT talk. You will be assigned to one of two times:
    • March 20, 9:00 am - 11:00 am; OR
    • March 20, 11:30 am - 1:30 pm.
  • Session 3: Coaching 2: Individualized coaching on your almost-final 3MT talk. You will be assigned to one of three times:
    • April 2, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm; OR
    • April 3, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm; OR
    • April 3, 1:00 am - 3:00 pm.

*Students who have already taken JRN501: Distilling Your Message may opt out of Session 1. 

How to Sign Up:

  1. Go to the Sign Up form  and enter your contact info.
  2. Affirm that your graduate advisor supports you presenting your work in the 3MT competition.
  3. Agree to participate in three training sessions to be held on March 6 and March 20 and April (2or3). You can indicate a preference of one of the two small-group coaching times for Sessions 2 & 3 ( see times above).
  4. After submission, you will receive confirmation on whether you have been selected to compete. At that time, we will request a title from selected speakers. 

Competitor Selection: The number of competitors is limited, therefore, competitor slots will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. They will go quickly, so sign up ASAP!


QUESTIONS: Contact Kathleen Flint Ehm, Director for Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development, kathleen.ehm at or 631-632-7531.