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Competition combines enlightenment with Entertainment

Page 1 of 3 Friday 26 August 2011

Three Minute Thesis competition combines enlightenment with Entertainment

Ever wondered how neurons evolved, why people have always had an urge to travel to Antarctica or whether gastric bypass can help cure diabetes?

These are just three of the questions being asked by University of Otago doctoral students from among the nine thesis projects being presented in just three minutes at the University’s Three Minute Thesis competition on Wednesday 31 August.

The annual event, which concludes the University’s graduate research month, provides doctoral students with a forum for practising their presentation skills and an opportunity to distil the essence of their research into a succinct and engaging threeminute ‘sound bite.’

Candidates are required to present for no longer than three minutes on the topic of their thesis. Pitched at the level of an intelligent layperson, their presentations should describe their research, communicate its significance and impart their enthusiasm for it.

No visual aids other than a single, static Powerpoint slide are permitted. The panel of judges, which includes the University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne, will consider how engaging the speakers are and how comprehensible they make their research for a wider audience.

Students presenting at the final have already competed in the heats held in each of the University’s four divisions as well as its Wellington and Christchurch campuses. They will compete for study grants and cash prizes, with the event winner also receiving airfares and accommodation enabling them to compete in the Australasian Three Minute Thesis competition at the University of Western Australia in Perth in September.

OfficeMax New Zealand has sponsored the prizes for the Three Minute Thesis contest since the event’s inception in 2009. General Manager Scott Russ attended the event in 2010, and will be returning this year.

“OfficeMax is proud to continue its support of this great event,” says Mr Russ. “We are looking forward to this year’s finals and anticipate that refreshing blend of passion and knowledge from all of the finalists. The premise of the event challenges the way contestants think about presenting their hard work in both an informative and entertaining manner.”

The 2011 University of Otago Three Minute Thesis final, which is open free-ofcharge to the public, starts at 3pm on Wednesday August 31 in the College of Education Auditorium on Union Street East. It will also be streamed live at: (NB Microsoft’s Silverlight programme needs to be installed in order to watch the live-streaming)

The 2011 finalists and their topics are: Yanwei Tan (Department of English) ‘Weaving the Past into an Unfolding Present: Individuation in the Maori Novel’ Jack Rivers (Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Otago School of Medical Sciences) ‘Cannabinoid Receptor 2 and its role in Neuroinflammation’ Hongjun Shi (Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington) ‘Cancer Biomarker Discovery’ Carla Jellum (Department of Tourism) ‘Exploring the Unknown: ‘Real’ Reasons for Travelling to Antarctica’ Kirsten Walsh (Department of Philosophy) ‘Experiment and Mathematics in Newton’s Natural Philosophy’ Jordana Norrish (Department of Mathematics and Statistics) ‘The Language of Mathematics – Lost in Translation?’ Travis Monk (Department of Zoology) ‘The Origin of Neurons’ Azrina Md Ralib (Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch) ‘Acute Kidney Injury in the Intensive Care Unit: Predictions of Severity and Recovery’ Jonathan Foo (Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington) ‘Gastric Bypass: Does it fix Diabetes?’


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