York students celebrate their winning Three Minute Thesis (3MT) presentations

Shira Yufe, an MA student in psychology, is headed to the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) provincial finals at the University of Waterloo on April 12. Her presentation “Promoting health for breast cancer survivors” was awarded first place, along with the People’s Choice Award, at York’s annual 3MT competition last week.

Barbara Crow with winners Elisea De Somma, Tehmeena Chaudhry and Shira Yufe

3MT is a research communications competition for master’s and doctoral students originally conceived at the University of Queensland in Australia. 3MT challenges students to explain their research to a panel of non-specialist judges in under three minutes with only a single, static PowerPoint slide for support.

Yufe’s study focuses on healthy lifestyle and weight management interventions for breast cancer survivors – a rapidly growing group in Canada. Breast cancer survivors who are overweight or obese are shown to have a lower quality of life and an increased risk of cancer recurrence. Her research investigates why some women are – or are not – successful in adopting healthier habits following breast cancer treatment. She hopes this research will inform the design and delivery of similar programs offered to women at Canadian breast cancer support facilities.

Yufe is currently completing her thesis under the supervision of Professor Karen Fergus. She is also a recipient of the Ontario Women’s Health Scholars Award for her work helping to improve women’s health.

Tehmeena Chaudhry, an MSc student in biology, placed second for her talk “Using bird pee to determine pesticide exposure”, which examines neonics and their impact on grassland birds. Samples taken from nestings at field sites in Guelph, Ont. provide a snapshot of the birds’ environment and their exposure to various chemicals.

Chaudhry is currently a researcher in the Stutchbury Lab of Behavioural and Conservation Ecology under the supervision of Professor Bridget Stutchbury. The Stutchbury lab does research on the conservation biology and ecology of migratory songbirds in North America.

Elisea De Somma, an MA student in psychology, placed third for her talk “Physical activity, white matter, and cognition in pediatric-onset MS”, based on her research measuring the integrity of major white matter tracts in the brain and cognitive efficiency in pediatric onset multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Specifically, she explores whether physical activity acts as a moderator of these factors in order to inform future research on whether increasing physical activity can improve neural connectivity and cognition among children.

De Somma is currently a researcher in the Till Lab, a neuropsychology lab examining cognitive and behavioural development, under the supervision of Professor Christine Till.

Barbara Crow with winners Elisea De Somma, Tehmeena Chaudhry and Shira Yufe, as well as the four judges from the event, Rhonda Lenton, Douglas Hunter, Laurence Harris and Amro Zayed

The provincial finals will bring together winners from all university competitions across Ontario. Livestreaming of the event will begin at 10am via uwaterloo.ca/ontario-three-minute-thesis.

The top three presenters, in addition to a participant’s choice award, will receive cash prizes as well as a chance to compete nationally in Canada’s 3MT competition hosted by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS).