Yale 2021 3-Minute Thesis Competition Winners Announced!

Life in the virtual space became quite normalized in 2020.  And while this trend continued into 2021, new challenges awaited many of us.  One such challenge awaited Yale’s 2021 3-Minute Thesis Competition competitors, where this year’s entire event would be held virtually!  In many ways, the spirit of the competition remained the same.  PhD students were tasked with creating a 3 minute summary of their research, intended for a lay-audience, using a single PowerPoint slide to convey key details.  In other ways, new challenges emerged, such as giving that presentation in an empty room in front of your laptop camera, as opposed to a live audience of over 200 attendees!

All of this year’s participants came into this year’s competition with some knowledge of how the virtual variant of 3MT would unfold, thanks in part to our pioneering 2020 3MT finalists.  Once again, all participants would be using the video recording platform Panopto (with key assistance from our collaborators at the Poorvu Center for Teaching & Learning and the Graduate Writing Lab) to craft their presentations.  Those who were selected to move onto our final round of competition then had the opportunity to redraft and re-record their talks in a manner of weeks.  Once again, our 2021 3MT finalists showed us that, be it from their apartments or their research labs, the world is a stage.

A returning feature to this year’s competition included offering of the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning’s Public Communications Certificate.  This certificate, now a annual offering from the Graduate Writing Lab at the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, yielded 17 participants in 2021 (an 89% increase from last year), including 6 of our 2021 finalists!

This year’s judges included:

  • Lynn Cooley, Dean of Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • Victoria Bjorklund, ’77 PhD Medieval Studies, Chair, Robin Hood Foundation
  • Bhaskar Ghosh, ’94 PhD Computer Science, Partner & CTO, 8VC

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 2021 3-Minute Thesis Competition Winners:

First Place – Matthew Ellis (Cellular & Molecular Physiology):  Using Stem Cells to Model and Treat Cardiovascular Disease

TIE* Second Place & Audience Selection:  Best in STEM – Malena Rice (Astronomy):  Searching for Planet Nine with the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

TIE* Second Place – Jake Heinlein (Chemical and Environmental Engineering):  From Waste to Fuel – Discovering How to Utilize a Greenhouse Gas

Third Place & Audience Selection:  Best in Humanities & Social Sciences – Dana Hayward (Sociology): 
The Social Impact of Close Votes


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

By Brian Frenette
Brian Frenette Senior Associate Director Brian Frenette