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Doctoral student in entomology wins annual K-State Three Minute Thesis competition

Friday, March 20, 2020

3MT logo

Winners have been selected in Kansas State University's Three Minute Thesis competition, which challenges graduate students to explain their research in 3 minutes or less.


MANHATTAN — Cameron Osborne, doctoral student in entomology, Fresno, California, won first place at Kansas State University's Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT, competition for his presentation "Can a livestock pest control itself?" Osborne's major professor is Kristopher Silver, research assistant professor of entomology.

As the first-place winner, Osborne received a $500 scholarship. Osborne also was scheduled to represent the university in the 2020 Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools' Three Minute Thesis Competition in April. Both have been canceled in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Three Minute Thesis is an academic competition first developed by the University of Queensland of Australia. Competitions are now conducted at more than 900 universities in 85 countries.

K-State's final competition was Feb. 27 and featured Osborne and seven other finalists who were selected from preliminary competitions on Feb. 14, which featured 30 graduate students. Participants were challenged with explaining their research in 3 minutes or less, using a single, static slide. Finalists presented to an audience of K-State faculty and students and Manhattan community members. Judges for the event were Mark Bachamp, vice president for the Kansas Region Business Development of Olsson; Pangie Burns, JAG-K career specialist with USD 383; and Mary Jo Myers, first lady of K-State.

"It was certainly a challenge to narrow down an entire project into just 3 minutes, but I enjoyed crafting a story that an average person could take home to tell their family and friends," Osborne said. "I also enjoyed listening to so many exciting and diverse projects that were on display at the event. This is the best part of science communication."

Mikaela Radar, master's student in geology, Wichita, won second place and $250 for her research presentation on "LA-ICP-MS zircon geochronology of granulite xenoliths from the Geronimo Volcanic Field, SE Arizona: implications for crustal evolution since 2.4 Ga." Her major professor is Pamela Kempton, professor and department head of geology.

"I enjoyed participating in the 3MT competition because it gave me an opportunity to get down to the basics of my research and learn to explain it in a way that non-geologists can understand," Rader said. "I think this will be an important tool in the future when speaking to nonexperts about my thesis. I also enjoyed the opportunity to hear from many other graduate students across the university about their research."

Kristen Sikorsky, master's student in horticulture and natural resources, Narragansett, Rhode Island, was selected by the audience as the People's Choice winner for her presentation, "Ready for takeoff: Using drones to protect our parks." She earned a $125 scholarship. Her major is Ryan Sharp, associate professor of horticulture and natural resources.

"The Three Minute Thesis Competition challenged me to project my passion for my discipline and my research in just 3 minutes, no small feat when I could likely speak all day about the groundbreaking conservation efforts displayed by the individuals in our department," Sikorsky said. "But giving my elevator pitch to the public helps to increase the environmental mindfulness of the everyday individual and inspire pro-conservation behaviors through short, simple, meaningful conversation. Through my interactions while preparing for and during the competition, I came to understand that protecting nature is as much about effectively communicating with the public as it is about conducting research and passing laws."

Along with effectively communicating the significance of their research in 3 minutes or less, the competition was a way to show the importance of effectively explaining their research to people outside of the participants' disciplines. Studies also 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.

Along with Osborne, Radar, and Sikorsky, the competition also featured the following finalists:

Jaide Allenbrand, master's student in biology, Olathe.

From out of state: Micah Cameron-Harp, doctoral student in agricultural economics, Rochester, New York.

From out of country: Paula Rozo, doctoral student in entomology, Colombia; and Shilpa Hebbar, doctoral student in biology, and Pavithra Natarajan, doctoral student in biochemistry, both from India.


Megan Miller

News tip

Olathe and Wichita, Kansas; Fresno, California; Rochester, New York; and Narragansett, Rhode Island.


K-State Three Minute Thesis competition