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Optometry competes in Science’s 3 Minute Thesis heat

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The annual Faculty of Science Three Minute Thesis heat returned this week.  More than twenty graduate students from all six units gathered to compete and describe their research in less than three minutes, using only one slide.

The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, Rob Hill, kicked off the competition and hosted the event.

“I wish all faculty and students could attend to see what magnificent work our students do,” said Hill. “Hearing these presentations makes me proud to be part of the Faculty of Science at this University”.

Three out of the 21 master’s and doctoral students who competed were from the School of Optometry and Vision Science. Emmanuel Alabi, Akshay Gurdita and Varadharajan Jayakumar. Alabi, a doctoral student supervised by Professors Trefford Simpson and Natalie Hutchings, is developing an objective method to quantify pain through non-verbal measurement. His dynamic expression and clear focus are what lead him to win runner-up and $100 in the 2017 competition.

“Deciding to take part in the 3MT has been one of the best choices in my academic walk thus far”, said Alabi.

He will be moving on to represent Science at the University competition on March 23rd.

Akshay Gurdita, a master’s student supervised by Professor Vivian Choh, connected to the audience by demonstrating images on his slide to what an average person would see versus what someone with optic nerve damage would see. He hopes to develop a method to regenerate and prevent the loss of vision after an injury. 

Varadharajan Jayakumar, a doctoral student supervised by Professor Trefford Simpson, is using signal detection theory to measure the detectability of stimuli.    

It was a challenging heat this year as all the students gave exceptional presentations. Nyasha Gondora, a doctoral student from the School of Pharmacy won $150 and the competition for her presentation on the long-term effects of childhood stress on mental health and brain physiology in adults. The School of Optometry and Vision Science is ecstatic to be sending forward Emmanuel Alabi, runner-up, for the upcoming University final.

The judging panel consisted of Professors Heidi Engelhardt, Marianna Foldvari, John Johnston, Barb Katzenback, Kevin Resch and Chris Yakymchuk as well as Outreach Manager Heather Neufeld. The panel assessed the students on their communication style, comprehension and engagement.

The University of Waterloo will be hosting both the University and Provincial finals. Last year, Science’s Gah-Jone Won, a doctoral student from the School of Optometry and Vision Science, won the national competition.

Let’s continue the winning streak and cheer on your Science candidates Nyasha and Emmanuel at the University competition on March 23rd.

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