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Chemistry doctoral student and her cancer-fighting research take first in Three Minute Thesis competition

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017


MANHATTAN — A Kansas State University graduate student's ability to explain her cancer research to the public in a relatable way is earning her a chance to discuss her research on a national stage.

Tuyen Nguyen, doctoral student in chemistry from Vietnam, won first place and the People's Choice award at Kansas State University's Three Minute Thesis competition finals for her presentation "Tiny Superhero Fights Against Cancer." The final competition was Feb. 16 and featured Nguyen and seven other finalists, who were selected following the first round of the competition Feb. 8, which featured 30 graduate students.

For the finals, the graduate students had to explain their research three minutes or less. Along with the time limit, finalists had to make their presentations from memory — no notes allowed — and could use just one slide in front of an audience of Manhattan community members and Kansas State University faculty and students. Judges for the event were Bill Snyder, the university's head football coach; Usha Reddi, mayor of Manhattan; and Tom Giller, president of Commerce Bank in Manhattan.

As the first-place winner, Nguyen received a $500 scholarship. She also earned a $125 scholarship as the People's Choice winner, which was selected by the audience. Nguyen's research is supported by the Johnson Cancer Research Center and the Nanotechnology Innovation Center of Kansas State. Her major professor is Santosh Aryal, assistant professor of chemistry. Find out more about her research at k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/2017-02/superheroes22117.html.

Anil Pant, doctoral student in biology, Nepal, won second place and $250 for his research presentation on "Vaccina Virus Develops New Taste." Pant's research is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Johnson Cancer Research Center. His major professor is Zhilong Yang, assistant professor of biology.

"The Three Minute Thesis Competition offered me a great opportunity to train myself on how to talk about my research to the general audience," Nguyen said. "I put all my emotions, enthusiasm and passions about fighting cancer and my research into my presentation. I hoped my presentation would help the audience understand the way I feel, and to iterate that scientists in different fields are trying hard every day to fight cancer."

Aside from being able to effectively communicate the significance of their research in three minutes or less, the competition was a way show the importance of being able to communicate well with people outside of the participants' disciplines.

"The warm and enthusiastic environment of the competition has given me the experience to present my research in a convincing manner to general audience," Pant sad. "The final competition was a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Studies show a growing trend for employees to be able to communicate highly complex information in a way that can be understood by anyone. The Three Minute Thesis competition gives the graduate students the experience to do that.

As the first-place winner, Nguyen will represent Kansas State University in the 2017 Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools' Three Minute Thesis Competition, April 5-7, in Indianapolis.

Along with Nguyen and Pant, the competition also featured the following finalists:

Heather Love, doctoral student in human ecology, Gilbert, Arizona; Brintha Parasumanna Girinathan, doctoral student in genetics, India; Zin Mar Myint, master’s student in mass communications, Myanmar; Babita Adhikari Dhungel, doctoral student in biology, and Anju Giri, doctoral student in agronomy, both from Nepal; and Marcus Olatoye, doctoral student in agronomy, Nigeria.

The Three Minute Thesis is an academic competition first developed by the University of Queensland of Australia. Competitions are now conducted at more than 170 universities in 17 countries.


Tuyen Nguyen is Tween Nwin


Three Minute Thesis Competition

News tip

Gilbert, Arizona

Written by

Kelsey Peterson