ANU Three Minute Thesis finals make a live comeback

22 Aug 2022

After watching a goldfish swim around in circles, have you ever wondered: am I smarter than a fish?  

The average human might understand there is more to life than the confines of a well decorated tank, but really, do we have more going on upstairs than our marine counterparts?  

If fishy thoughts aren't your speed, the hidden Grand Prix inside our cells might drive your curiosity.  

Or maybe, thinking about if trees were people will pique your interest in forestry. 

In your averageresearch thesis, these questions would take 80,000 words, or over 540 minutes of a reader's time to answer. Our contestants only have three.  

ANU PhD candidates have the chance to battle it out for a podium place in the highly regarded Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) next week.  

Researchers have three minutes, one slide, and no extra frills to present their PhD research to a live captive audience.  

"The 3MT competition forces students to present their research in a concise manner. It's a challenge to explain the difficult concepts we have been researching for three or four years in only three minutes," Ivan Vinogradov, one of 11 ANU finalists, said.  

"For my research, I looked at animal intelligence, seeing how different factors like age, sex and environment affect how intelligent animals are.  

"I came up with IQ tests for different animals, testing their memory, learning and navigation skills. You'll have to come along if you want to find out if we really are smarter than a fish."  

Jennifer Hung from the ANU College of Health and Medicine is another competitor in the running.  

"I looked at a process called mRNA translation, which is how our bodies make protein from mRNA. The RNA is like a track and the machinery is a car, and every time it does a lap a new protein is made," Ms Hung said.  

"I'm excited to tell more people about my research and bridge the gap between academic jargon and everyday life."  

The competition will take place in Llewellyn Hall, on 1 September, with finalists fighting for $4,000 in prize money, a place in the 3MT Asia-Pacific grand final, and the extensive bragging rights attached to the 2022 ANU 3MT crown.  

After the pandemic forced the event online for the last two years, contestants now get to compete in front of a live audience once again.  

With talks on science, politics, health and economics, there is something for everyone.  

If you're keen to see it for yourself, you can register now for an unforgettable night of entertainment!