Three Minute Thesis 2018

Registration is now closed, the deadline to participate in the 2018 competition was September 24th, 2018.

For the 2019 competition, visit our 3MT 2019 page

Sharon Idiga

The ability to clearly and concisely articulate complex research to non-specialist audiences is a vital skill for all graduate students. Participating in the Graduate College’s public scholarship competitions helps students develop communication skills, allows them to share and take pride in their work, and offers the chance to compete for prizes. In Fall 2017, Sharon Idiga (right) won the Ph.D. competition. You can view Sharon's presentation, and the presentations of all of our finalists, on the 3MT spotlight page.

Finals will be held Friday, November 2, in the Art Building West Room 240 from 3-5pm.

2018 Finalists:

  • Hannah Campbell, Biochemestry, Cells that work together, stay together.
  • Oronde Drakes, Geography, Flooding and Suffering in America
  • Amanda Mollet, Educational Policy and Leadership Studies (Higher Educ & Student Affairs), “Being invisible isn’t a privilege”: Examining asexual identity development
  • Muhammad Rahman, Biomedical and Life Sciences, Preventing auditory neuron degeneration with an anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Asif Rahman, Geography, Social Vulnerability to River Floods in the U.S.
  • Miriam Janechek, English, Children's Literature and Belief: A 19th-Century Focus
  • Brandon MacDougall, Geography, Camera Trapping For Urban Biodiversity Conservation
  • Tianlu Zhang, Second Language Acquisition, Frenemy: A Relationship Between Native Language and Second Language
  • Melissa Airy, Art & Art History, An Artistic Depiction: The Power of Community on Pilgrimage
  • Tim Acri, Pharmacy, Bone tissue engineering: a gene delivery approach

ELIGIBILITY: Participants must be currently enrolled in or recent graduates (within one calendar year) of a Masters or PhD degree program that requires the student to conduct their own research.

Three Minute Thesis


The University of Iowa’s fifth Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition challenges graduate students to clearly and concisely articulate complex research to non-specialist audiences.


Each contestant who advances to the Final Round will win a $250 cash prize. There will be additional prizes for:

  • $500 dollars for 1st place (decided by judges), and option for funded to travel to Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) 2019 
  • $250 for honorable mention (decided by judges)
  • $250 for the "People's Choice" winner, selected by audience ballot

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Registration Deadline: Monday, September 24th

Students: To compete, you must complete the registration form. After the registration deadline passes you will receive an email with instructions on how to sign up for the preliminary competition and submit your slide. Back to top.


  • Registration Deadline: September 24th, complete the registration form.
  • Preliminary Contests: October 5th, Art Building West, 1:00-6:00pm.
  • Finals: Friday, November 2nd, Art Building West Room 240 from 3:00-5:00pm.

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Distilling Your Research
Thursday, September 20 from 12:00 pm - 1:30pm
IMU 345

Please register to attend.
This session will briefly introduce the Three Minute Thesis, and provide opportunities to help you develop your presentation. Participants will learn:

  1. Theatrical techniques including breath, movement, and body language to help improve presentation skills. 

  2. How to find a hook to get audiences interested in their research. 

  3. How to feel more comfortable speaking in front of groups and how to create engaging oral presentations.

Successfully Speaking
Friday, September 28 from 11:30 am-1:00 pm
IMU 345

Please register to attend.
Practice makes perfect. Join us for a 3MT Clinic, where you will have the opportunity to present your 3MT and to receive feedback from a live audience.

  1. All registrants must come prepared to present their 3MT pitch.
  2. It is optional to provide their PowerPoint slide to the organizer in advance of the workshop.

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Winners will be determined by a panel of judges using the official 3MT competition rubrics. Judges will be invited from the University of Iowa faculty and staff, previous 3MT winners, and the local community.

Comprehension & Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement & Communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?

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  • Student Resource packet
    Departments: How to encourage and support your students
    • Click here to download a packet with best practice suggestions
    • Encourage student participation. Assist them in preparing and practicing presentations
    • Organize a departmental or inter-departmental competition
    • Volunteer to be a judge at any of the qualifying rounds.

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Past 3MT Winners


2017 Results

Winner & Peoples' Choice:

Sharon Idiga, Pharmacology

Honorable Mentions:

Katherine Perschbacher, Pharmacology
Rawa Alammari, Oral Science


Ali Al-Jumaili, Pharmacy (Pharmaceutical Socioeconomics)
Anh-Vu Do, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Behnoush Khorsand, Pharmaceutics and Translational Therapeutics
Brandon MacDougall, Geographical and Sustainability Sciences 
Caitlin Marley, Classics
Emily Malcolm, Biochemistry
Eric Emmons, Neuroscience
Ernane Souza, Pharmacy (Medicinal & Natural Prod Chem)
Jessica Gregson, Microbiology
Lalita Oonthonpan, Biochemistry
Lucas Bon Durant, Molecular and Cellular Biology

Three Minute Thesis Spring Finalists:

Fall 2016

PhD Students

Masters Students

Spring 2016

  • Kawther Ahmed, Engineered Cancer Vaccine
  • Amber Bates, Methods to Study Inflammation in the Mouth
  • Caitlin Cosme, The Role of the Insular Cortex in Cocaine Relapse
  • Sebastian De Pascuale, Voyage of the Van Allen Probes on the Shore of Space
  • Michael Freedberg, Reward, Punishment, and Skill Acquisition
  • Richard Ligo, The Mobius Energy of Weighted Knots
  • Katherine Peter, Nanomaterial-Enabled Drinking Water Treatment Technologies
  • Allison Songstad, The Vision to Cure Blindness 
  • Shiyi Wang, Preventing Suicide by Understanding Brain Disorders
  • Crystal Wotipka, Embracing the Screen of Mediated Environments: An Exploration of the Buffer Effect's Role in Communication Surrounding Transgressions

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