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3-Minute Thesis Competition

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3-Minute Thesis Competition

The 3-Minute Thesis competition challenges Yale PhD students to clearly and compellingly describe their thesis to a broad audience - in 3 minutes!  By preparing a successful presentation, students will develop a key professional asset that is just as critical for academic conferences and job talks as it is for a job search outside of the academy.  We welcome all Yale students, postdocs, faculty, and staff to attend this exciting and enlightening annual event!

By participating, students can:

  • Hone communication skills essential to any career path
  • Refine their "elevator pitch"
  • Learn about the research projects of their peers
  • Share their work with the Yale community

Save the Date! Final Competition: April 5, 2019

Interested in learning about the innovative and exciting work PhD students are doing at Yale?  Cheer on this year's 12 finalists and celebrate PhD research at Yale at this year's final-round 3-Minute Thesis Competition. 

  • When: Friday, April 5, 2019, 5pm-7pm
  • Where: Sudler Hall, WLH (100 Wall Street)

Be sure to attend to see which finalists will win one of the following prizes!

1st Prize:  $1000
2nd Prize:  Apple Watch
3rd Prize:  $200 gift card to the Yale Bookstore
People's Choice Award - Humanities and Social Sciences:  $350
People's Choice Award - STEM:  $350

All students, faculty, staff and other members of the Yale community are most welcome to attend.  Enjoy refreshments and a special performance by the Citations, Yale's graduate a capella group!

The 3-Minute Thesis Competition is a collaboration of the offices of the McDougal Graduate Student Center.  We gratefully acknowledge the  support of Spark Investment Management and the Graduate School Alumni Association through the generous contribution of GSAA board member Kemal Ciliz (MA’94, Economics).

2019 Finalists

All finalists are current PhD students performing research at Yale. 

  • Matthew Calvin, Economics: "What happened when United Left Cleveland: Effects from Airline Dehubbing"
  • Ann Chen, Biomedical Engineering: "Overcoming barriers: Novel nanoparticles for brain cancer treatment"
  • Susanna Curtis, Investigative Medicine: "Can Cannabinoids Treat Pain or Reduce Inflammation in People with Sickle Cell Disease?"
  • Ross Federman, Immunobiology: "Building functional proteins with minimal chemistry, or why I love leucine"
  • Jeremy Gaison, Physics: "Precision Neutrino Measurements: The Fingerprint of a Nuclear Reactor"
  • Michael William Grome, Cell Biology: "Biomimetic Membrane Remodeling With Self-Assembling DNA Nano-machines"
  • Hazel Hollingdale, Sociology (Fox Fellow): "Testing the Lehman Sisters' Hypothesis"
  • Sharif I. Kronemer, Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program: "Detecting Consciousness Through The Eye"
  • Charlotte Kwakye-Nuako, Psychology (Fox Fellow): "The experiences of victims of child sexual abuse and their caregivers as they pursue justice in Ghana—a search for an alternative"
  • Anne Norman-Schiff, Religious Studies: "Writing Beyond Reading in Ancient Judaism"
  • Mehraveh Salehi, Electrical Engineering: "Individualized and Task-specific Functional Brain Mapping"
  • Luna Zagorac, Physics: "How Small Black Holes Teach Us About the Big Bang"

2019 Final Judges

An esteemed panel of judges will select the winning presentations:

Lynn Cooley
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Lynn Cooley is the C.N.H. Long Professor of Genetics, professor of cell biology and of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology. She has served as the director of the Combined Program in the Biological & Biomedical Sciences since 2001.  Dean Cooley is currently serving on the board of directors of the Genetics Society of America and as a council delegate for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has been recognized with a Pew Scholar Award from the Pew Charitable Trusts, is a member of the Connecticut Academy for Science and Engineering, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has published numerous scientific articles in the journals of several different scientific fields. Dean Cooley received her B.A. from Connecticut College in 1976, and her earned her Ph.D. from the University of Texas in 1984.

David Damrosch ’75, ’80 Ph.D.
Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature and Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard University

David Damrosch is the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature and Chair of the Department of Comparative Literature, Harvard University. He is a past president of the American Comparative Literature Association and founder of the Institute for World Literature. Dr. Damrosch taught at Columbia University for 29 years before joining the faculty at Harvard. He is the author of: The Narrative Covenant: Transformations of Genre in the Growth of Biblical Literature; We Scholars: Changing the Culture of the University; Meetings of the Mind, What Is World Literature?; The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh; and How to Read World Literature. David is presently completing a book entitled Comparing the Literatures: What Every Comparatist Needs to Know and is starting a book on the role of global scripts in the formation of national literatures. Dr. Dramrosch earned both his B.A. and his Ph.D. in comparative literature at Yale University.

Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet ’97 Ph.D.
Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History and Director of the Middle East Center, University of Pennsylvania

Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History and Director of the Middle East Center, University of Pennsylvania. She has written numerous books reflecting issues relative to her native Iran including: Frontier Fictions: Shaping the Iranian Nation, 1804-1946; Martyrdom Street;, and Conceiving Citizens: Women and the Politics of Motherhood in Iran, the latter of which received the 2012 Book Award from the Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. Currently, Firoozeh has completed a manuscript entitled “Between Heroes and Hostages: Key Moments in US-Iranian Relations” and is finishing another book project, tentatively titled Tales of Trespassing: Borderland Histories of Iran, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf. Dr. Kashani-Sabet earned her Ph.D. from Yale University in history and her undergraduate study was done at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead Scholar.

Arikha Moses ’98 Ph.D.
CEO, Concarlo Holdings, Inc.
Executive in Residence, Columbia Technology Ventures

Arikha Moses, chief executive officer, Concarlo Holdings, Inc., has been on the front lines of innovation in life sciences technology throughout her career. She was vice president, Athena Ventures, a seed-stage venture firm where she was responsible for sourcing, building, and managing early-stage life science companies including EluSys Therapeutics and TyRx Pharma (later acquired by Medtronic). As TyRx’s Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Arikha was involved in the commercialization of multiple drug-eluting devices. Later, while Entrepreneur in Residence at The Vertical Group, Dr. Moses founded and led Galatea Surgical through clinical studies and commercial product sales. Dr. Moses earned her Ph.D. from Yale University in chemistry and her undergraduate study was done at Brandeis University where she graduated with honors in chemistry.

2019 Competition Details

Do you have difficulty explaining your research projects to friends and family? Do you wish you could describe your work more clearly in seminars and interviews?  Improve your ability to distill your main ideas, demonstrate the relevance of your research and creatively engage your audience. You will have 3 minutes and 1 slide to describe your research project to a broad audience. 

FAQ: How do I apply?

Registration for the 2019 competition is currently CLOSED. Be sure to apply next year!  

FAQ: Who is eligible?

All Yale PhD students from every discipline may participate.  

FAQ:  When is the competition?

All accepted applicants will be invited to sign up for one of several preliminary rounds that will take place between February 25th and March 6th, 2019.  Twelve finalists will be selected for the final championship round. 

The championship round will be held on Friday, April 5th, 2019 at 5:00pm.  All finalists must be able to participate in person in the championship round.  

The championship round will be held the evening before the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association's annual alumni mentoring event, "Where Do I Go From Yale?" on Saturday, April 6th, 2019.  All alumni coming to campus for the event will be invited to attend the 3-Minute Thesis competition!

FAQ: How can I prepare?

Watch examples of other 3-Minute Thesis presentations
  • See last year's finalists from Yale's 3-Minute Thesis competition here.
  • View videos of 3MT winners from around the world here.
Review these online tips
Attend a workshop at Yale

To help you create a potentially winning presentation, OCS and the Center for Teaching & Learning will be hosting a number of workshops and special advising hours. Our upcoming workshops are listed below, with more to come! 

  • PitchVantage Studio Info Sessions
  • 3-Minute Thesis Competition Introduction & FAQ session - Tuesday, Jan. 15th, 12pm-1:15pm @ CTL 120A (lunch provided!)
  • Career Lab:  Telling Your Research Story (3-Minute Thesis Preparation!) - Tuesday, Jan. 22nd, 5pm-6:30pm @ 55 Whitney Avenue, 3rd floor - RSVP
  • Conferences from Abstract to Q&A - Tuesday, Jan. 22nd, 4pm-5:30pm @ CTL (Poorvu Center), room 121 - RSVP
  • Designing Effective Slides for Humanities & Social Science Presentations - Tuesday, Jan. 29th, 4pm-5:30pm @ CTL (Poorvu Center), room 121 - RSVP
  • Career Lab:  Telling Your Research Story (3-Minute Thesis Preparation!) - Monday, Feb. 4th, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 103 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP
  • Crafting the (Short) Story of Your Research - Thursday, Feb. 7th, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 110 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP
  • Public Speaking Clinic for Humanities & Social Science PhDs - Tuesday, Feb. 12th, 4pm-5:30pm @ CTL (Poorvu Center), room 121 - RSVP
  • How to Present Engagingly in the Sciences - Thursday, Feb. 14th, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 110 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP
  • Poster Preparation & Template Development for STEM & Social Sciences PhDs - Thursday, Feb. 21st, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 110 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP
  • Designing Effective Slides in Science Presentations - Thursday, Feb. 28th, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 110 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP
  • How to Present Engagingly in the Sciences [WEST CAMPUS] - Tuesday, March 5th, 5pm-6:30pm @ tbd on West Campus - RSVP link to follow
  • Figure Making in the Sciences - Thursday, March 7th, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 110 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP

Sessions offered last year that we anticipate also being available this Spring include:

  • Presenting Engagingly:  Crafting the (Short) Story of Your Research
  • Presenting Engagingly:  Effective Delivery of Your Research
  • Communication Skills for International Students on the Job Search
  • Presenting Engagingly:  Effective Slides
  • Presenting Engagingly:  Data Visualization
  • Career Lab:  Telling Your Research Story
  • Career Lab:  Using Your STAR Story for Presentations & Interviews
  • Producing Successful Presentations with Angelika Hoffmann (Deputy Director, Corporate & Foundation Relations)
  • Presenting Engagingly:  Effective Slides
  • Career Lab:  Refining Your Professional Narrative:  Interview & 3MT Prep

The Office of Career Strategy will also be offering dedicated advising hours to assisting students with their presentations!  OCS will be announcing these hours very soon.

Be sure to check this webpage and the OCS weekly newsletter frequently for workshop announcements and register for these workshops on the Yale Career Link.

FAQ: Judging criteria

Comprehension & Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement & Communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?

FAQ: Rules

  • Only 1 single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations, or ‘movement’ of any description; the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (i.e. no poems, raps, or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.


Contact Brian Frenette, Senior Associate Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Career Services.

Read about the 2018 competition in the Yale Alumni Magazine.

Read about the 2017 competition in Yale News: "A thesis in 3 minutes."

Competition origins

The 3-Minute Thesis is an internationally recognized competition founded by the University of Queensland in 2008. Today competitions are held in 600+ universities and organizations in 63 countries worldwide.  Learn more here!