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NC State Has a Runner-up in ACC Three Minute Thesis Competition

Ciera Cipriani with Bonni Feri
Ciera Cipriani, left, was named runner-up in the first-ever ACC Three Minute Thesis competition. She is pictured with Bonni Feri, vice provost of graduate education and faculty development, at Georgia Tech. Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech

Ciera Cipriani, who won the Graduate School’s Three Minute Thesis competition in fall 2018, was chosen as runner-up in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s recent inaugural 3MT competition held in Washington, DC, to showcase graduate education for policymakers.

Cipriani was a master’s student in textile chemistry when she won NC State’s 3MT with her presentation, “Shapely Molecules Prevent Dyeing Dangers.” She recently completed her master’s degree and is beginning work on a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at Texas A&M University. Read more about Cipriani here.

The ACC version of the international 3MT competition was held July 22-23 on Capitol Hill. The 13 students participating also had the opportunity to attend professional development sessions on research advocacy and working for the federal government, tour Capitol Hill and meet with congressional staff from the students’ home states.

In 2008, the first 3MT event was held at The University of Queensland, Australia, and has spread to more than 600 universities across more than 65 countries. It was designed to help graduate students hone their communication skills by challenging them to share their thesis or dissertation research in three minutes in a way anyone can understand.

The participants in the ACC event, which included one winner from each university-level 3MT competition, were judged on criteria including their ability to avoid scientific jargon, describe key results of their research and convey enthusiasm. In addition to Cipriani, these students took home cash prizes for their presentations:

• First Place and People’s Choice: Monica Arul Jayachandran, Ph.D. student, civil engineering, University of Notre Dame, “Occupant Comfort in High-Rise Buildings”
• Third Place: Carolyn Roberts, Ph.D. student, mechanical and aerospace engineering, University of Virginia, “Sex Differences in Automotive Injury”

The following students also presented their research as part of the competition:

group standing in front of Capitol
Representatives from 13 ACC schools participated in the inaugural 3MT on Capitol Hill. Photo courtesy of Georgia Tech

• Christopher Bassil, Ph.D. student, molecular cancer biology, Duke University, “Achilles’ Heels in Drug-Resistant Tumors”
• James Foster, Ph.D. student, chemical and biomolecular engineering, Clemson University, “Innovative Materials for the Screening of Plutonium in Water”
• Piyusha Gade, Ph.D. student, bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, “Rational Design of In Situ Engineered Vascular Grafts”
• Eve Humphrey, Ph.D. student, biological science, Florida State University, “Under Pressure: How Population Differences and Coloration Influence Behavior and Stress Response”
• Konstantina Kritharidou, master’s student, architecture, University of Miami, “The Transformable: An Evolving Structural Mechanism That Continuously Adapts to Environmental Conditions”
• Jack Molnar, Ph.D. student, physiology and biophysics, University of Louisville, “Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Crowd Sourcing Medical Research”
• Francisco Quintero, Ph.D. student, materials science and engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, “Solid Lithium Batteries and How to Deal with a Diva”
• Erin Spencer, master’s student, environment, ecology, and energy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “Fishy Business: Red Snapper Mislabeling in the Southeastern United States”
• Lauren West-Livingston, Ph.D. student, molecular medicine and translational science, Wake Forest University, “Off-the-Shelf Tissue-Engineered Vascular Grafts”
• Ying Zhang, Ph.D. student, human development and family science, Syracuse University, “Father Involvement, Couple Relationship Quality, and Maternal Postpartum Depression”

In addition to the 3MT competition, the students participated in the professional development sessions, which were led by speakers from university federal affairs offices and from organizations including the World Bank and the National Science Foundation.

In the sessions, students learned firsthand how being able to communicate research to a broad audience can have impact on government policies and funding for research. They also received coaching on government career opportunities for people with advanced degrees and heard from the speakers about the importance of being able to work with a diverse group of people to find solutions to problems that could improve society.

“Every step of this experience — from preparing for their home university 3MT competitions to this two-day event — has provided the students with the invaluable opportunity to hone the ability to communicate their research and its impact to people of all walks of life,” said Bonnie Ferri, vice provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development at Georgia Institute of Technology. “I’m so glad that Georgia Tech and the other ACC institutions were able to come together and create this new professional development event for our students to further develop their skills.”

Learn more information about the 3MT program.

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