The University of Iowa

Three Minute Thesis 2020


Registration is now open! 

In an effort to maintain the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and greater community, the 3MT competition will be a virtual this year. Please see the timeline listed below and check back in early Fall for the 3MT virtual competitor guide.

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. You can view the presentations of all of our finalists on the 3MT spotlight page.


ELIGIBILITY: Participants must be currently enrolled in a Masters or PhD degree program that requires the student to conduct their own research.

Three Minute Thesis

Register Now 




Competition Schedule

Judging Criteria & Official Rules

Past Winners


Contact Us


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 the 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, October 5th.

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


September 11, Workshop 1, Pitching Your Research (details below)

September 18, Workshop 2, Engaging Your Audience (details below)

September 25, Workshop 3, Prepare Your Presentation (details below)

October 2, Workshop 4, Practice Your Pitch (details below)

October 5, Registration Deadline

October 9, Deadline for recorded video submission for 3MT Preliminary Competition

October 16, Finalists selected

October 19- 30, 3MT Final Competition Recording (more details later)

November 6, Announce 3MT Winner

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Click on the workshops below to register. 

Pitching Your Research

September 11, 1:00-3:00 pm
Watch recorded session
This session will briefly introduce the Three Minute Thesis and allow you to create a summary of your work that can help you beyond 3MT. The skills you will use in a successful 3MT presentation can also be used to win grants, sell ideas, & network professionally.

Engaging Your Audience

September 18, 1:00-3:00 pm
Watch recorded session
Learn theatrical techniques including breath, movement, and body language to help improve presentation skills. 

  1. How to find a hook to get audiences interested in their research. 
  2. How to feel more comfortable speaking in front of groups and how to create engaging oral presentations.

Prepare Your Presentation

September 25, 1:00-3:00 pm
Register for Zoom Workshop 

This session will help prepare you to design your presentation and to pitch your research for the Three Minute Thesis competition. 

Practice Your Pitch

October 2, 1:00-3:00 pm
Register for Zoom Workshop

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. Come prepared to present their 3MT pitch and get feedback to make your presentation stronger.
  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 to judge the video submissions. 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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Past 3MT Winners

2019 Results 


Christie Vogler, Anthropology, The Women of Gangivecchio: Investigating Gender, Wealth, and Work in Agricultural Economy of Roman Sicily

People's Choice:

Mackenzie Spicer, Molecular Medicine, Moving Forward in Movement Disorders: Discovering New Tools to Study Parkinson’s Disease

Honorable Mentions:

Enrico Bruno, Flying African Americans: The Trope of Black Flight in 20th and 21st Century Literature

Mackenzie Spicer, Molecular Medicine, Moving Forward in Movement Disorders: Discovering New Tools to Study Parkinson’s Disease


Rasheid Smith, Pharmacy, Cancer Immunotherapy: A Viral Approach
Barbara Kagima, Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, Geographic Health Disparities: What Are They and Why Do They Matter?
Clair Muerdter, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Pollution Processing by Vegetation: Protecting Water, Food, and Environmental Quality
Haydar Al-Jaafari, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Biofilm Elimination on Biomedical Devices
Hannah Molitor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, From Toxic to Tasty: Nutritious Algal Protein from Waste
Murphy Keller, Immunology, Infection Hijacks Cellular Communication
Nazmin Akter Eti, Human Toxicology, Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB), Fish Consumption, and Miscarriages: An Untold Story
Hadley Galbraith, French and Italian, Bigidi and Re-Creating the Memory of Survival: Resisting Slavery in Literature, Film, and Performance
Vahid Eghbal Akhlaghi, Business Analytics, Fuel Distribution Planning for Disasters on Islands


2018 Results 


Tianlu Zhang, Second Language Acquisition, Frenemy: A Relationship Between Native Language and Second Language

People's Choice:

Oronde Drakes, Geography, Flooding and Suffering in America

Honorable Mentions:

Muhammad Rahman, Biomedical and Life Sciences, Preventing auditory neuron degeneration with an anti-inflammatory medicine
Tim Acri, Pharmacy, Bone tissue engineering: a gene delivery approach


Hannah Campbell, Biochemestry, Cells that work together, stay together.
Amanda Mollet, Educational Policy and Leadership Studies (Higher Educ & Student Affairs), “Being invisible isn’t a privilege”: Examining asexual identity development
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
Melissa Airy, Art & Art History, An Artistic Depiction: The Power of Community on Pilgrimage

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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