Eight U of R students compete at the University’s 3MT event at Darke Hall: (l to r) Amy Snider, Michael Mensah, Breeann Phillips, Aelxadra Apesland, Jasleen Kaur, Ben Egan, Alexa Danyluk, and Max Adjei-Dadson. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

Imagine taking a complicated research problem that you’ve been working on for a year or two – work that will eventually become hundreds of pages of a PhD dissertation – and explaining it in three minutes or less in an easy-to-understand way. Oh yeah, and you’re also presenting it on stage, in the spotlight, in front of a live audience.

Sound impossible?

Well – it’s not.

And graduate students around the world accomplish this task every year as part of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, an event that provides students with the chance to highlight their research for a general audience – and a panel of five judges – using one, static slide.

The University of Regina held their 3MT competition earlier this week, and Michael Mensah, a PhD candidate in the U of R’s Institute of Environmental Change and Society, was the evening’s winner.

Michael Mensah presenting his 3MT, Fresh Solutions for Salty Cows. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)
Michael Mensah presenting his 3MT, Fresh Solutions for Salty Cows. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

Mensah’s research presentation, Fresh Solutions for Salty Cows, explores why there are elevated salt levels in the Prairie ponds that cattle often drink from to be able to suggest effective management strategies that keep pond water fresh and cows healthy.

Mensah, along with seven other U of R grad students, presented their research to a packed house. The students honed their public-speaking skills and explained their complex research in plain language, while the audience got the chance to learn about how student research affects their communities and their lives.

The U of R students presented on everything from how ceramics can help convey climate anxiety to how low oxygen supply relates to Alzheimer’s disease.

The students were marked according to both comprehension and content: Did they clearly explain their research question, design, and findings? Did they explain their conclusions, outcomes, and the impact of their work? And engagement and communication: Were they easy to understand? Did their slide enhance their presentation? Were they were enthusiastic?

At the end of the night, Mensah won first place and took home $1,500 and the chance to do it all again at the western regional final at the University of British Colombia, Okanagan campus. The winner of the western regional will go on to compete at the national 3MT event.

Mensah also won the People’s Choice Award, taking home another $500 for being the evening’s audience favourite.

Michael Mensah won the U of R’s 3MT event. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)
Michael Mensah won the U of R’s 3MT event. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

The first runner up was Max Adjei-Dadson, a graduate student in the film department, who presented Heritage Ghana: In Pursuit of Postcolonial Ghanaian Film. She took home $1,000 for her win.

The second runner up was Breeann Phillips, a biology student, who presented The Landscape of Alzhimer’s Disease. She won $500 for her efforts.

The three winners from the U of R’s 3MT event: (l to r) Breeann Phillips, Michael Mensah, and Max Adjei-Dadson. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)
The three winners from the U of R’s 3MT event: (l to r) Breeann Phillips, Michael Mensah, and Max Adjei-Dadson. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

The first 3MT event took place at the University of Queensland in Australia in 2008. It’s now held in over 900 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide.

Check out the video below to watch the U of R’s 3MT event.