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Queen Mary Academy

3 Minute Thesis

3 Minute Thesis competition 3MTAs a researcher, you will probably experience this conversation in some form or another: So, what do you work on? Perhaps with a relative you haven’t seen in years, who knows vaguely that you’ve been researching something, and that you’re going to be some kind of doctor.  Or maybe it plays out when you meet a learned colleague from a related field at a conference; a potential collaborator and you each need to communicate your work’s raison d’être (and how your interests may align) in a relatively short time, like say, three minutes. This is your opportunity to develop this skill as a PhD student!

What the 3MT® competition is

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition that was developed at the University of Queensland, Australia, in 2008.  Internationally growing since 2011, there are 3MT® competitions held at over 170 universities across 17 countries worldwide.  As the name implies, PhD students have just three minutes to tell a non-specialist audience about their research and results.  They can show one static PowerPoint slide, and that’s basically it. The idea is to “crystallise” their research in such a way as to communicate its background, outline any salient hypotheses, and present major findings to anyone without trivialising or ‘dumbing’ anything down.  A tall order, surely, when you have topics as diverse and complex as the human health, emerging mobile technologies or European history.

QMUL has run the 3MT competition since 2014, with training running throughout the year and the final taking place in late May – early June.

The QMUL 3MT winner goes on to compete against other PhD students from across the UK at the Vitae 3MT® semi-final. Six students are then selected to compete at the final, which takes place in September at the Vitae Researcher Development International Conference.

You can watch videos of the UK 3MT finalists on the Vitae website and the videos of the 2021 Queen Mary finalists at the bottom of this page. The videos of the 2020 Queen Mary finalists are available on this page.

Prizes in previous years:

  • Queen Mary 3MT competition: Vouchers of £150 (Winner), £100 (Runner-up), £50 (People's Choice Award)
  • Vitae 3MT competition: grant of £3000 (Winner) or £1000 (People's Choice Award) to spend on a public engagement activity.

The 2021 QMUL 3MT® competition

The 2021 2021 3 Minute Thesis competition 3MTQMUL 3MT® Final took place on Zoom on 16 June and we were once again joined by PhD students, staff, and family and friends of the six finalists from around the globe! The six finalists were selected as the top two entries from each of our Faculties after participating in the 3MT Faculty Heats in April.

The judges selected Alena Vdovchenko from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences as the Queen Mary winner. The title of Alena's winning pitch, which also received the People's Choice Award, was 'Key to the Brain: Open your Mind to Drugs!'. The Runner-up prize went to Josephine Carpentier from the Barts Cancer Institute.

Alena will now go on to compete against PhD students from across the UK at the Vitae 3MT® quarter-final and will hopefully make it to the Vitae 3MT® final in September. Good luck, Alena!

Videos of Finalists 

Alena Vdovchenko - QMUL Winner & People's Choice Award
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences
Key to the Brain: Open your Mind to Drugs!
NB: Alena's video will be published once the 2021 national 3MT final takes place.

Josephine Carpentier - QMUL Runner-up
Barts Cancer Institute
Providing a sidekick in the Fight Against Cancer

Laura Deelen
William Harvey Research Institute
Using Plasters to Battle Heart Failure 

Chathura K. Sooriya-Arachchi 
School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science
Battle of Work-Life Balance

Rosalie Warnock
School of Geography
Could you do this?

Nika Salamunić
School of Law
State Responsibility for Private Military and Security Companies


Judges - Final

  • Dr Anna Price, Head of Researcher Development, Queen Mary Academy
  • Prof Tim Warner, Director of the Doctoral College; Dean for Postgraduate Research
  • Sarah Barnes, Public Engagement Manager
  • Dr Emma Sutton, Senior Research Fellow, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Dr Linda Cremonesi, UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, Science and Engineering
  • Dr Pierre Maillard, UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, School of Medicine and Dentistry 

Judges - Faculty Heats

  • Dr Anna Price, Head of Researcher Development, Queen Mary Academy
  • Dr Michal Filus, Impact Acceleration Account Officer, Research Impact
  • Dr Kathleen McCarthy, Lecturer in Linguistics, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Dr Ioannis Xanthis, Postdoctoral Researcher, Science and Engineering
  • Dr James Whiteford, Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Dr Sarah Martin, Reader in Cancer Cell Biology, School of Medicine and Dentistry
  • Dr Cleo Bishop, Reader In Senescence, School of Medicine and Dentistry