2020 3-Minute Thesis Competition

There are predictable hurdles in turning a massive research project into a succinct 3 minute summary.  More so when that 3 minute summary is intended for a lay-audience, as opposed to experts in that given field!  In any other year, Yale’s 3-Minute Thesis Competition provides a fair number of challenges, from the construction of said summary, to the creation of a single PowerPoint slide used to convey key details, to presenting all this information in front of a crowd of over 200 attendees!  But that would be in any other year, as the Covid-19 global pandemic unfortunately put a stop to this year’s scheduled 3MT finals for this past April.  However, several months later, our intrepid finalists have risen to a new set of challenges and are ready to see this competition to a natural (albeit altered) conclusion.

The 2020 3-Minute Thesis Competition finalists returned to the field of competition, in this time of Zoom and social distancing, to see their efforts reach the intended conclusion of determining this year’s winners.  Using the video recording platform Panopto (with key assistance from our collaborators at the Poorvu Center for Teaching & Learning and the Graduate Writing Lab), finalists diligently transformed their in-person presentations into recorded presentations in a manner of weeks.  Be it from their apartments or their research labs, they were able to truly show us that the world is a stage.  Now we can collectively celebrate their research and efforts.

Also spotlighted at this year’s awards ceremony were nine 3MT participants who earned the pilot offering of the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning’s Public Communications Certificate.  This certificate will continue to be administered by the Graduate Writing Lab at the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning in conjunction with future iterations of the 3-Minute Thesis Competition.

This year’s judges included:

  • Lynn Cooley, Dean of Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • Carmen Bambach, ’81, ’88 PhD Art History, Curator, Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Joshy Joseph, MPhil ’90 Computer Science, VP and Google Fellow, Google
  • Rick Li, PhD ’05 Physics, Partner, Goldman Sachs

This competition was sponsored by the Yale Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, with generous support from the Graduate School Alumni Association (GSAA) through a gift by GSAA board member Kemal Ciliz ’95 MA (International and Development Economics).

Our 2020 3-Minute Thesis Competition Winners

First Place –  Harini Sadeeshkumar (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology):  Developing Riboswitch Biosensors to Find New Antibiotics

Second Place –  Ce Zhang (Neuroscience):  Growing Human Smooth Brain-Like Tissue from Hair

Third Place – Lily Zhao (Astronomy):  Using Stellar Wobbles to Find True Earth Twins

Audience Selection: Best in Humanities & Social Sciences – Amelia Kennedy (History):  Growing Old in a Cistercian Monastery c. 1100-1300

Audience Selection:  Best in STEM – Gadareth Higgs (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology):  Discovering Bacterial Gene Control Switches

You can view all of our finalists’ videos, as well as this year’s awards ceremony, via the Office of Career Strategy YouTube channel.