Master's student in agronomy to represent K-State in regional Three Minute Thesis competition
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
MANHATTAN — Manjot Kaur Rekhi, master's student in agronomy, Punjab, India, won first place at Kansas State University's Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT, competition for her presentation "Sensing nutrient dynamics using soil-based microbial fuel cells."
As the first-place winner, Rekhi received a $500 scholarship and will represent Kansas State University in the 2021 Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools' Three Minute Thesis Competition, to be held virtually in March. Rekhi's advisor is Ganga Hettiarachchi, professor of agronomy. View Rekhi's presentation.
The 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.
Kansas State University's competition was conducted virtually with the final on Feb. 24. It featured Rekhi and seven other finalists who were selected from preliminary competitions on Feb. 19, which featured 29 graduate students. Participants were challenged with explaining their research in three minutes or less, using a single, static slide. Finalists presented virtually to an audience of K-State faculty and students and Manhattan community members. Judges for the event were Kent Glasscock, president of K-State Innovation Partners; Cheryl Grice, director of strategic relations for K-State's Division of Communications and Marketing; and Jason Smith, president and CEO of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce.
"Participating in the Three Minute Thesis is equally challenging and rewarding," Rekhi said. "As graduate students, we tend to use scientific terminology, but it limits our ability to communicate our research and its importance to a diverse audience. The 3MT pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to think of new and creative ways to simplify and communicate my research effectively."
Lara Dsouza, a doctoral student in biology, Mumbai, India, won second place and $250 for her research presentation on "Little Warrior vaccinia: Using Vaccinia virus to treat breast cancer." Her major professor is Zhilong Yang, associate professor of biology. View Dsouza's presentation.
"I had a lot of fun working on my 3MT talk and though it was not very easy to talk about my research without using a lot of technical jargon, preparing for it was extremely helpful and it has encouraged me to talk a lot more about my research to a broader audience.”
Priyasha Fernando, master's student in civil engineering, Colombo,Sri Lanka, was selected by the audience as the People's Choice winner for her presentation, "Power of Pig Poop." She earned a $125 scholarship. Her advisor is Prathap Parameswaran, assistant professor of civil engineering. View Fernando's presentation.
"I am honored and also humbled by the People's Choice Award," Fernando said. "I consider it not only an achievement but also an encouragement toward my future projects. My aim of simplifying a complicated process for the average person to understand was a success. My gratitude goes to all those who supported me."
Participating in the 3MT is a valuable professional development experience for graduate students. Not only does it provide a venue for promoting their research, but it helps develop their communication and presentation skills. Being able to concisely communicate the value of their research in a way that can be understood by non-experts can make these students more competitive for diverse career paths and funding opportunities to support their research.
Along with Rekhi, Dsouza and Fernando, the competition also featured the following finalists:
Hannah Stowe, master's student in entomology, Manhattan; and Travis Wiederstein, master's student in biological and agricultural engineering, Valley Center.
From out of state: Liz Renner, doctoral student in biology, Crooks, South Dakota.
From out of country: Manoj Chhetri, doctoral student in horticulture and natural resources, and Sabita Ranabhat, doctoral student in entomology, both from Nepal.