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Graduate Students Rise to the Challenge in Unique Competition

The Graduate School hosted the annual USC  Three Minute Thesis (3MT©) competition  on Friday, November 11, 2022.  Founded by the University of Queensland in 2008, the 3MT competition challenges graduate students to communicate their thesis or dissertation research to a general audience in no more than three minutes using just one static slide. The Graduate School first hosted this university-wide competition in April 2013 as part of Graduate Student Day and continued to host the competition when Graduate Student Day was integrated into Discover USC in 2017. This year marked the first standalone 3MT event at USC and the first time the competition was hosted in the fall. 

The event featured 33 presentations from master's and doctoral students across a wide range of graduate programs. “Participating in the 3MT provided me with an opportunity to talk about my research and get familiar with others’. There is a lot going on at USC and it is amazing to learn what valuable studies are ongoing in different areas. 3MT certainly broadens grad students’ horizons,” shared finalist Gelareh Rezvan, a doctoral student in Chemical Engineering. 

 Prior to the competition, students were also able to participate in a valuable 3MT training session.  The training, facilitated by Assistant Professor Jonathan Edwards of the College of Arts and Sciences, encouraged students to resist the temptation to memorize their speech and instead focus on structure and delivery by anchoring both with a strong introduction and conclusion.

Finalist B. Celia Cui, a doctoral student from Pharmaceutical Sciences, noted, “The preparation for 3MT has led me to practice my public speaking and communication skills like no other. 3MT encouraged me to rediscover how fun it is to emote while speaking. I have been subconsciously giving my oral delivery to have an air of professional detachment, but 3MT inspired me to communicate ideas through expressive articulation, theatrical pauses, and dynamic gestures.” 

Presentations were judged by faculty and staff from academic and administrative units across the university. Presenters were divided into three preliminary rounds (heats), with three finalists emerging from each heat. The resulting nine finalists from the preliminary rounds then progressed to compete in a final round.

The three graduate students to place overall from the final round were: 

  • Overall Winner: B. Celia Cui, Pharmaceutical Sciences 
  • 1st Runner-Up: Gelareh Rezvan, Chemical Engineering 
  • 2nd Runner-Up: Taylor Larison, Chemistry  

As the overall winner of the event, B. Celia Cui will represent the university in a regional 3MT competition at the 2023 Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS), March 3-4 in Tampa, Florida.

The Graduate School will continue to host the 3MT competition each fall semester and send the champion to the CSGS meeting the following spring. All graduate students from all programs are invited to challenge themselves by competing.  “3MT gives you experience that you really do not get anywhere else during graduate school,"  says Finalist Taylor Larison, a doctoral student in chemistry. "You have to learn how to relay your information in a clear, understandable manner to people from very diverse backgrounds. A competition like this is very applicable to post-graduate scenarios you will find yourself in. Just being a part of the competition will allow you to find your strengths and weaknesses.”

Information for the 2023 3MT event will be available in September 2023.


Related:

USC 3MT Competition


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