Can you present your thesis within three minutes? These master’s and PhD students from the North-West University (NWU) proved that it is possible at the university’s second Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.
This competition is held annually at more than 200 universities worldwide, and challenges participants to present their research in 180 seconds in an engaging format that can be understood by an intelligent audience with no background in the research area.
Heleen Dreyer from the Faculty of Health Sciences won first place in the PhD category and walked away with a R10 000 cash prize. Her presentation was titled “The footprints our daily habits leave”. Bongiwe Zungu from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences was announced first runner-up in the same category and received a cash prize of R8 000 with her presentation “Bio-developed nano-fertilisers for improved crop productivity”.
Heleen and Bongiwe will be representing the NWU at the National 3MT competition that will be hosted by the University of Free State.
Heleen says the opportunity to attend training sessions presented by João Marcelo Silva were very valuable. “I feel that I have accomplished something I did not consider possible. Besides winning the prize money, which will help me pay for my studies, I also learned how to seek out the essential parts of my research and present it in a language that is easy to understand,” she says.
Danielle Botha from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences walked away with an R8 000 cash prize in the master’s category with her presentation titled “Scat scan: uncovering plant diversity through poop”.
She says that this competition has forced her to think about her research differently when communicating it to a lay audience.
“It has been very exciting to be recognised in such a big way by my university and faculty. I generally feel very anxious when presenting in front of an audience, but with months of training and perfecting my speech I was able to not only communicate my research effectively, but also to walk away from this competition with a new-found confidence in myself and my studies,” says Danielle.