Graduate students to compete in 3-minute thesis competition

LAWRENCE — Entrepreneurs often have an “elevator pitch,” a concise speech to explain their business in 30-60 seconds. Research can be more complicated, so a group of University of Kansas graduate students will get a full 180 seconds to explain their projects in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition this month.

3MT logo

Approximately 23 students will participate in the 3MT preliminary heats beginning at 2 p.m. Nov. 7 in the Burge Union, forums A-C. The six or seven top presenters in the preliminary round will compete in the finals at 2 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Burge Union, Forum C. All members of the KU and Lawrence communities are invited to attend the events.

KU’s competition is part of the Global 3MT, which highlights graduate student research by challenging students to explain their work concisely and effectively to an audience of nonexperts.

“As KU students and researchers make discoveries that change the world, they must be able to help the world understand the significance of that research,” said Jen Roberts, vice provost for academic affairs and graduate studies. “Researchers can talk to each other for hours about their work, but explaining to a general audience for just three minutes may actually be harder. The 3MT competition encourages students to build that skill.”

The competition judges, who are not experts in the research fields presented, will select a first-place winner to receive a $600 award and a second-place winner to receive $300. The audience will select a People’s Choice winner, who will receive $150. The first-place presenter will serve as KU’s representative at the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools 3MT Competition in the spring.

Research topics this year include antibacterial properties of bioactive glass in bone cement; predicting drought from outer space; understanding and developing techniques to break chemical bonds in spent nuclear fuel rods; addressing the gender gap in low brass music sections and using exhaust gas recirculation to enhance internal combustion engine performance and reduce harmful nitrogen oxides.

“The 3MT competition is an amazing platform that allows you to look into the creative aspect of the complex research we conduct. It is a nice feeling to have your five-year-long thesis summarized in a way that everyone can finally get you,” said Sayuri Niyangoda, KU doctoral candidate and last year’s first-place and people’s choice winner.

The University of Queensland in Australia founded the 3MT competition in 2008, and more than 900 universities in over 85 countries currently participate.

“The competition offers a dual opportunity,” Roberts said. “Students learn to be concise and engaging in describing their research, and the audience gets a quick introduction to groundbreaking research in a variety of fields.”

For more information, contact the Office Graduate Studies at

Fri, 11/03/2023


David Day

Media Contacts

David Day

Office of the Provost