Students deliver three-minute thesis at 3MT competition

Students and judges joined Faculty of Graduate Studies dean Thomas Loebel (second from left) at York’s 3MT (Three Minute Thesis), held March 25

Mosquito population control, the visual perceptions of orangutans, Tamil identity, obesity and health, respiratory syncytial virus, songbird migration, alt-right masculinities – on March 25 at York University, these diverse topics and others were all part of Three Minute Thesis (3MT), a unique international competition for graduate students.

At 3MT, graduate students have three minutes to present their research and its impact to a panel of non-specialist judges and peers. The event develops students’ capacity to effectively explain their ideas in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience. In Ontario, each university runs an internal competition, the winner of which competes at the provincial competition.

Students and judges joined Faculty of Graduate Studies Dean Thomas Loebel (second from left) at York’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT), held March 25

“A university is many things, but above all, it’s a place where knowledge is made,” said Thomas Loebel, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, in his opening remarks. “This event will give graduate students a chance to hone their presentation and communication skills, but more than that, it’s a chance for students to get together in a lively forum and share what they’ve been working on.”

He added, “And because knowledge is not created in a vacuum, this is a valuable opportunity to bring students from across disciplines together in one event.”

The ambition and originality of York research can be seen from first-place winner Lina Deker (PhD, psychology), whose presentation was titled “Using art to facilitate communicating emotions among individuals with autism spectrum disorder.”

“My research study focused on using art as an alternative mechanism to help individuals with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) communicate their emotions,” said Deker. “The goal was to provide individuals with ASD the opportunity to express their emotions in a creative way. The research study found that when individuals with ASD used art, they became more conscious of their feelings, experienced themselves in the art making process and constructed a personal sense of self. The next steps to take would be to incorporate an art-based intervention within institutions, such as the education system where individuals with ASD can create drawings to further help them communicate exactly how they are feeling.”

Second-place winner Iris Yusupov (master’s, psychology) delivered a presentation titled “Online Memory Program for Healthy Older Adults,” outlining how a computer program could help an aging population with natural memory decline.

Kasey Coholan (PhD, science and technology studies) won third place for her presentation titled “Human Potential: What Are We Really Talking About?”

“My research examines the relationship between technology and the concept of human potential,” she said. “Potential, once a concept reserved for 19th-century physicists studying the thermodynamic principles of energy, entropy and work, is widely used today for assessing and forming both society and self. I look at how, why and where our understanding and practice of potential changed and what it might mean.”

The top three speakers received prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 respectively. In addition, Nataly Beribisky (master’s, psychology) won the People’s Choice award of $250 for her presentation “Power Analyses: A Multi-faceted Mess.”

The event took place at 519 Kaneff Tower.