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Two graduate students claim prizes in KU’s 2022 3MT Competition

Mon, 11/14/2022

LAWRENCE – The Three Minute Thesis Competition is a global research communication event that challenges graduate students to convey their research in three minutes or less. After weeks of presentations featuring cutting-edge research, two University of Kansas graduate students claimed honors and cash prizes at the conclusion of the competition Nov. 9 in the Burge Union.  

Sayuri Niyangoda gives her presentation in KU's 3MT competition. Sayuri Niyangoda, doctoral student in chemistry, won first place and $500 for her presentation, “Alzheimer’s Disease through the Eyes of a Fish.” Niyangoda also won the People’s Choice Award ($125) for her presentation. As the top finalist, Niyangoda will represent KU at the regional Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools 3MT Competition, which will take place March 29-31, 2023, in Chicago, with expenses paid by the Graduate Studies office.

“It’s a great honor and a privilege to have won the 3MT competition this year,” Niyangoda said. “It is a great platform to communicate and highlight the importance of the research we conduct at KU to a generalist audience. It was a challenging yet delightful experience. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Office of Graduate Studies for giving me this valuable opportunity.”

Kalin Baca, doctoral student in chemical engineering, earned second place ($250) for her presentation, “Recycling Refrigerants to Reduce Global Warming.” Baca’s research is currently being tested on a pilot scale and will soon be commercialized by her startup company, Iconium Engineering Company.

“My research is on separating refrigerant mixtures into their components so that they can effectively be reused and recycled,” Baca said. “The 3MT competition was a great opportunity to meet graduate students in different departments and learn about their amazing research. I enjoyed the challenge of quickly and concisely explaining my research, and its impact, which is a skill I know I will continue to use and develop.”

Jen Roberts gives the opening remarks at the 2022 KU 3MT competition finals.All finalists also received a professional head-and-shoulder portrait session and will have their research spotlighted on the Office of Graduate Studies’ social media channels.

Nineteen graduate students participated in KU’s 2022 3MT event, with 11 advancing to the competition finals and two bringing home awards. Each student had to condense their complex research into a polished three-minute presentation using only one PowerPoint slide as a visual aid. The competition does not allow students to use video, notecards or props.

“All of the finalists gave fantastic presentations that made complex subjects accessible to all audience members and highlighted the meaningful research that is being conducted by graduate students across KU,” said Jennifer Roberts, vice provost for academic affairs and graduate studies. “I congratulate our winners for standing out in a very impressive field of presenters.”

2022 marks the fifth year that KU has hosted a 3MT competition and the first year since before the COVID-19 pandemic that the event took place in person. The event was sponsored by the Office of Graduate Studies.

The 3MT academic research communication competition was developed by the University of Queensland in Australia and was first held in 2008. 3MT competitions have been held at more than 900 universities in more than 85 countries worldwide.

All presentations from the 2022 KU 3MT will be available online.



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