5 Reasons Every Grad Student Researcher Should Compete in Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

1. Clear your mind.

We've all been there, too many thoughts, too much data, too many questions. What am I trying to accomplish with my research? What question am I trying to answer? How am I going about it? Where does it fit into the bigger picture? Am I trying to do too much or too little?
Preparing yourself for participation in a 3MT event is about training yourself for your future career. It is a chance to focus your thoughts, hone your presentation skills, and banish your fear of speaking in public. Every minute of the time you spend preparing for 3MT will have a positive impact on your career. But don't take our word for it. Here is what a few past UBC 3MT participants had to say:
"... it (3MT) gave me a chance to think about what I want and how I can accomplish two years' of learning. I had to consider the kind of research I propose to do, the appeal, and the value of my research."
Kunqian (Polo) Zhang, Forestry
3MT 2014 Semi-Finalist
Pictured: 2014 Semi-Finaliast Polo Zhang
"Preparing for and participating in the 3MT competition was an incredible chance to develop my presentation skills and my research pitch. I had the opportunity to think very carefully about the big-picture aspect of my research."
Erin Macri, Experimental Medicine
3MT 2014 Runner-Up and People's Choice Winner
Pictured L to R: 2013 People's Choice Winner Sun Yee Tan and 2014 People's Choice Winner Erin Macri

2. Rediscover your passion.

Many past participants have been surprised by how the 3MT experience has helped re-ignite their passion for their work and how the event has resulted in renewed drive and focus. Partly this has come from the clarity of purpose that results from preparing the presentation and partly it comes from the positive and encouraging feedback received from both those in their field and UBC's graduate community at large.
"By participating in 3MT, I gained a refreshing dose of research motivation. Writing my 3MT provided the opportunity to stop and clearly articulate what I wanted to contribute to research and why."
Natalie Sopinka, Forestry
3MT 2012 Winner
Pictured: 2012 1st Place Natalie Sopinka in action

3. Communicate to generate.

If you can communicate your research effectively to a non-specialist audience you may be amazed at the opportunities that begin to present themselves. Increased exposure can lead to other invitations to present, awards for presenting due to your improved style, invitations to university events, and better grant writing - which could lead to additional funding and new opportunities for collaboration across disciplines. Not to mention the increased support from family and friends who will appreciate having a clearer understanding of both your research goals and achievements.
"My participation has led to many other opportunities such as presentations at the Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference, with the alumni of UBC, at a summer barbecue with UBC President Stephen Toope and donors, as well as a special talk in the Pacific Parkinson's Research Centre's annual meeting. Feedback from the audience – particularly other students, researchers and patients – really inspired me to confidently pursue my PhD with enthusiasm and optimism. These opportunities not only bolstered my confidence, but they also enable me to expand my social and professional networks. I strongly encourage every graduate student to participate!!!"

Sun Nee Tan, Neuroscience
3MT 2013 People’s Choice Winner

4. Break out of your silo.

Many graduate students get so busy with their research and discipline-specific activities, they rarely explore interdisciplinary events and seminars on campus. Experiencing the 3MT presentations of other graduate researchers is a tremendous way to learn about, and be inspired by, the incredible breadth of research taking place at UBC, all while building your community.
"... the #1 thing that blew me away about this competition was not getting better at presenting my own material; it was hearing everyone else's. The breadth and depth of research going on in our university is just staggering. As researchers it is all too easy to fall into the trap of getting lost in our own little bubble of specialization, and the 3MT is a great way to hear concise, amazing stories from all sorts of different fields of study."
Fergil Mills, Neuroscience
3MT 2012 Runner-up
Pictured: 2012 UBC 3MT Runner-up Fergil Mills

5. Wow them.

Whether your future career will be in academia, government or industry, along the way you will be called upon time and again to present your work, defend your proposal, access funding, be articulate in a job interview, speak concisely in a meeting or be persuasive to further an opportunity. Participating in 3MT requires practice, practice, practice and that practice will increase your confidence in conveying your research and your story. Learning to incorporate the feedback and suggestions of colleagues, peers and the audience will help you grow as an independent scholar and is time wisely invested in your future success.
“The most valuable experience is to learn how to talk about your research in a simple but appealing manner. As graduate students, we may do a good job in technical presentations but not when it comes to an audience who are not specialized in our field."
Payam Zachkani, Engineering-Mechanical
3MT 2014 Finalist
Pictured: 2014 3MT Finalist Payam Zachkani
For complete and up-to-date information on participating in, sponsoring, voluntering or attending 3MT @ UBC 2015 please see the UBC 3MT event website.
Three Minute Thesis (3MT) was developed by The University of Queensland in 2008, and is now held in countries around the globe.
Thursday, 15 January 2015