It was not your typical dissertation panel: a swimmer, a lawyer, an economist, a policy analyst and a guitarist from the Tragically Hip.
They gathered at Queen’s University to judge 30 doctoral presentations from students representing 16 Ontario universities at the Ontario Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition.
Each graduate student had three minutes, one static slide, and no other props to convey their research topic to the non-specialist judging panel. The University of Toronto entered two scholars.
The competitors scored first and second place.
Second-place winner Abraham Heifets
is a PhD student in computer science. He posed the question: how can we make better medicines? Computer tools for chemistry.
"Participating was a lot of fun," said Heifets. "I appreciate the huge amount of work that it took to organize these competitions. It is rare to have the opportunity to practice describing my work honestly, accurately, simply, and succinctly; I believe that everyone, including researchers, needs these skills to communicate effectively."
The five-member judging panel – Rob Baker (guitarist for the Tragically Hip), Vicki Keith (marathon swimmer), Hugh Christie (lawyer), Donald Drummond (economist), and Peter Gooch (Council of Ontario Universities) – made the decision at the province-wide event.
School of Graduate Studies Dean Brian Corman was at Queen’s to support the two U of T finalists.
“This is a proud moment for the School of Graduate Studies and for the University of Toronto," said Corman. "To capture first and second place amongst a prestigious group of graduate researchers doing excellent research at 16 Ontario universities is an impressive achievement. I am indeed very proud of the presentations made by winners Jasdeep and Abraham.
“Doctoral students may be deeply immersed in their research, but to be able to encapsulate their research and to clearly, but concisely, convey it in layperson’s terms is a critical skill. Universities must continue to translate their research to the community in a comprehensible manner.”
The 3MT® provides a platform to hone the skills for that activity. It showcases innovative and significant research undertaken by our graduate students. Participants present their research and its wider impact in 3 minutes or less to a panel of non-specialist judges. The challenge is to present complex research in an engaging and compelling way, using minimal visual aids.
The School of Graduate Studies held divisional heats to choose two students to represent the University of Toronto at the provincial finals. Approximately 60 doctoral students from across all four SGS divisions – humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, and life sciences – competed in divisional rounds in March.
The above was excerpted from U of T News article by Lily Yee-Sloan.
(Pictured above: Abraham Heifets in the Computational Biology lab.)