ANU Spaces – Elise Hampton

Meet Elise Hampton ... last year's winner of the 3 Minute Thesis competition at ANU.

Elise, what do you do at ANU?

I'm a PhD student at RSAA, where I am researching what happens when galaxies collide.

What is your favourite spot on campus?

Well, if we include the Astronomy Department then my favourite spot is up on Mt Stromlo overlooking the valley on the other side from the CSO Common Room.

You like it because...

It's a beautiful spot and you can really lose yourself in the scenery. It is also a nice quiet place to write.

If you were free for an afternoon, you would...

probably head to a local cafe and read a book. Research doesn't often leave time to just relax and enjoy a novel.

Congratulations on winning last year's 3MT competition. Can you tell us what has been the highlight of winning the competition?

The highlight is probably the skills that I learned along the way. I know it may sound corny but it really is. Now, instead of being timid and nervous through all my talks, I can stand up there and feel confident, and only a little nervous.

What was your prize?

Through all three rounds I won I managed to win $5000. It's a nice stash of cash for a PhD student.

What are the benefits gained for students participating in a competition like 3MT?

There are a lot of benefits, like meeting new people, but also in what you learn along the way about how to present, how to control your nerves, how to inspire others to love your research as much as you do.

It must have been a challenge describing your research in just three minutes. How did you do it? What was your secret?

It took a fair bit of effort to get the talk to what it was in the end with help from friends and family listening to endless practices. But the real secret is that the entire presentation came from one very bad pick-up line. Inspiration can come from many different places.

What advice would you give to students thinking about entering the competition?

Do it. Seriously, you can't regret doing something like this. It's a nice change from the research overload to sit back and look at your PhD as a whole and really understand it enough to talk about it in only three minutes. Oh, and it's a good way to let your family in on what you do.

For more information on the 2014 3 Minute Thesis competition, check the ANU website.