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10 Finalists Will Compete in 3 Minute Thesis, Oct. 28

photo of man in front of PowerPoint slide
Ph.D. students will get three minutes and one PowerPoint slide to explain their research project. (Courtesy of NC State Pack Pix)

It takes years to complete research for a Ph.D. dissertation. But 10 finalists in The Graduate School’s inaugural 3 Minute Thesis® competition will have just three minutes and one slide with which to explain their work.

Finals for the 3MT® competition will be Oct. 28, 3-5 p.m., in the Talley Student Center Ballroom. The event is open to the campus and general public. In fact, the audience will participate by voting for the “People’s Choice” winner.

“We are so excited about our 10 3MT® finalists, and we look forward to hearing them share their research with NC State and the Triangle community,” said Dr. Maureen Grasso, dean of The Graduate School. Grasso brought the 3 Minute Thesis® competition to NC State.

The 3MT® competition was started in 2008 at the University of Queensland, Australia, and has since spread to at least 170 universities in 17 countries around the world. The challenge of 3MT® is to encourage Ph.D. students to hone their science communication skills by learning to present a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance.

The preliminary rounds of the competition were Oct. 13-15. A field of 28 competitors, all Ph.D. candidates who have completed their confirmation milestone, was narrowed to 10 finalists. The finalists and their presentation topics are:

Karim El Roz, Water to Fuel. El Roz is a chemistry student; research advisor, Dr. Felix N. Castellano.

Gareth Jones, Youth Development through Sport: A Capacity-Building Approach. Jones is a student in parks, recreation and tourism management; research advisor, Dr. Michael B. Edwards.

Johnsie Lang, Leaching of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) from Landfills. Lang is a civil engineering student; research advisor, Dr. Morton Barlaz.

Tahmid Latif, Remote-Controlled Roach-bots for Search and Rescue after Natural Disasters. Latif is a student in electrical and computer engineering; research advisor, Dr. Alper Bozkurt.

Jing Li, Can Associations Help Entrepreneurial Farmers? Li is a student parks, recreation and tourism management; research advisor, Dr. Carla Barbieri.

Haritha Malladi, Reduce and Recycle: How to Turn Our Black Roads Green. Malladi is a student in civil engineering; research advisor, Dr. Akhtarhusein Tayebali.

Doreen McVeigh, Adrift in the Dark. McVeigh is a student in marine, earth and atmospheric sciences; research advisor, Dr. David Eggleston.

Matthew MelilloSubstrate Deformability Impacts Liquid Spreading. Melillo is a chemical engineering student; research advisor, Dr. Jan Genzer.

Sonika Rawal, Rx Vitamin G: What Dose of GREEN Do We Actually Need? Rawal is a design student; research advisor, Dr. Celen Pasalar.

Rahnuma Shahrin, Measuring Microscale Strength of Cement: Why? How? Shahrin is a civil engineering student; research advisor, Dr. Christopher Bobko.

Brian Malow, curator of the SECU Daily Planet for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, will serve as master of ceremonies for the 3MT® finals. At the museum, Malow helps to communicate science to the general public in an engaging way, which includes hosting live presentations at the museum, often conducting interviews of scientists on stage. He also helps shape multimedia programs for the museum’s website and trains scientists to be better communicators.

Judges for the 3 Minute Thesis® finals are, from NC State, Dr. Lindsay Zanno, assistant research professor, biological sciences; Dr. Rob Dunn, associate professor, biological sciences; and Dr. Dan Solomon, emeritus dean, College of Sciences. Others include Dr. Meredith Welch-Devine, interim assistant dean of The Graduate School, University of Georgia, and Dr. Steve Matson, dean of The Graduate School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Contestants will be judged on comprehension and content, as well as engagement and communication. For more information on 3MT® and registration, visit:

Cash prizes will be awarded for first place, $1,000; second place, $750; and for the People’s Choice winner (by audience vote), $500. A three-judge panel will determine first and second place winners.

Judges for the preliminary rounds of 3MT® were Matt Shipman, research communications lead, University Communications; Dr. Holly Menninger, director of public science, College of Sciences; and Natalie Hampton, marketing and communications director, The Graduate School.

The 3 Minute Thesis® finals are free and open to the public. Talley Student Union is located on NC State’s main campus, at the intersection of Morrill Drive and Cates Avenue. Public parking is available in the Coliseum Deck, 201 Jeter Drive. For directions, consult the interactive campus map:


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