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Environmental Management Students Dominate Three-minute Thesis Competition

The annual Southern Institute of Technology Three-Minute Thesis Competition saw the School of Environmental Management dominate the results, taking out not just the main and runner-up oral presentation prizes, but also the first and highly commended prizes for poster presentations.

The event at SIT is modelled after the international ‘3MT’ competition which is held in more than 200 universities worldwide. SIT’s competition differs in being open to undergraduate as well as postgraduate students, and is in its ninth year at SIT. The event took place on 12th November at Hansen Hall to a (COVID) capacity crowd of around 75 fellow students and SIT staff. This year, for the first time, prizes were also awarded for the best research poster presentations, which were displayed around the Hall and lobby.

Participants giving oral presentations must present their research in just three minutes, with the aim of making it comprehensible to an audience who may have no previous knowledge of the research area. Posters must also be concise and easy to digest. The competition provides students a format to develop their skills in communicating, presenting and research, improving their abilities to inform on their research work.

This year’s judges were Dr Keri Milne-Ihimaera (General Manager – Māori Development), Dr Sally Dobbs (Head of Faculty SIT2LRN & Telford), and Dr James Savage, (Research Coordinator), who also judged the research posters with Dr Jerry Hoffman (Learning Assistance Lecturer & Senior Editor of SITJAR).

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Four Environmental Management (EM) students were placed in the competition results.

Paula Lopez received the top award and a $250 cash prize with her speech, “Conservation Values and Tourism in Milford Sound Piopiotahi: A visitors' and stakeholders' perspective”. Ms Lopez is thrilled to have won. Originally from Chile, she came to NZ in 2016 on a working holiday visa; studying a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Management at SIT has seen her fulfil one of her life aspirations.

“This win means a lot for me - the effort, tears, tiredness and smiles of a year of hard work. I am proud of myself because it was my first time studying tertiary education in English and I was able to pursue my dream of studying environmental management in New Zealand,” she said.

Runner-up was fellow EM student Kyla Sherbanowski, with her speech, “What is effective Environmental Education? A social study on the values of Environmental Education within Invercargill”. Judges commented that both students gave informative and engaging talks, and they appreciated the enthusiasm with which they described their projects, the clear stories around what research was done and why, and the use of humour to further boost audience engagement. Both talks far exceeded the standards expected from an undergraduate presentation, they said.

Best Research Poster was produced by Kelli Gerritsen, who presented "Analysing coastal litter in Southland, New Zealand". She received high marks from both judges for “visual design, content, and impact, conveying rationale and novelty”.

Second place went to Engineering student, Jaime Arpasi, for his research on smart traffic lights, and two students were highly commended: EM student Jasmine Kubala, researched “An Autumn fish survey: To discover fish presence or absence in farm drains feeding into the Waituna Lagoon", and Bachelor of Massage Therapy student, Junko Kobayashi with “Consideration of current and alternative linen care (BYO linen) in small massage businesses."

Environmental Management Programme Manager, Dr Christine Liang said it was great to see the number of EM students having their work acknowledged in the competition.

“I am over the moon that so many of our students were recognised for their research. All the students of the EM programme have done a great job this year with research projects that engaged stakeholders, councils, and community to improve Southland's environment,” she said.

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