DC Fit Masthead

180 seconds of brilliant ideas

Emma Macdonald

Could you describe a PhD thesis in under three minutes?

That’s the challenge for 12 ANU students who will battle it out on stage for supremacy in the Three Minute Thesis final next Wednesday.

Under normal circumstances, an 80,000-word research project would take nine hours to present. But when $4000 in prize money and a chance to pitch the idea internationally is at stake, future researchers are prepared to get up on stage at Llewellyn Hall and make it snappy – explaining their passion in just 180 seconds.

Meanwhile, the event is open to the public – allowing people to get a glimpse of the future.

The topics being presented at the ANU are diverse, from how a toxic work culture can spread to employees similar to a case of the flu, to how the Japanese Government is trying to combat human trafficking.

One student will attempt to explain how male and female malaria parasites leave the human body to spread the deadly global disease through mosquitos – having huge implications for its future potential eradication.

Although getting all of that into three minutes will certainly be a challenge.

The competition started in 2008 at the University of Queensland and has spread to more than 350 universities in 18 countries.

Its aim is to cultivate students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. At a time when scientists and academics need to justify their work to secure government and commercial funding, the competition importantly teaches the importance of using language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

It is also handy in potentially securing the $500 cash prize for the People’s Choice award. ANU VC Professor Brian Schmidt talks about 3MT in this video and why it’s a great program.

the essentials

What: 3MT ANU
Where: Llewellyn Hall, ANU
When: 14 September 2016, 6 – 8pm
Ticket are free but must be booked through final3mt.eventbrite.com.au


Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author