Crème de la crème from six faculties go head to head in 3MT finals

University of Waterloo's Gah-Jone Won won first prize at the 2016 3MT Ontario provincial competition. Three minutes. Six faculties. One shot at fame. In the 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, master’s and doctoral students have just three minutes and only one slide to present their graduate research. The pressure is intense.

The battle for the top 3MT spot in Canada began with faculty-based heats at Waterloo in late February. The winners then represented their faculties in the university-wide final held on March 31. Master’s student Cheryl Chan came first in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability and placed second in the Waterloo-wide competition. Her presentation focused on a community-based approach to marine conservation – a topic that is close to her heart.

This research is very important to me. I love the ocean; it's an intriguing and beautiful abyss. Seeing the poor condition of some of the coral reefs that I have visited really spurred my passion for this research. Our oceans are facing many risks right now and they are a vital part of all of our lives, whether we recognize it or not.

Despite being extremely passionate about their topics, 3MT preparation was not easy for Waterloo’s faculty finalists. As Arun Das, a PhD candidate in Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering, explains:

It’s definitely tough to sum up all of your work in only three minutes, considering these are things I’ve spent years working on. At the same time, summarizing everything in just a few minutes really makes you take a step back and appreciate the overall impact of your research.

Arun spent a whole week prior to the competition rehearsing his three-minute monologue whenever he had the chance. He practiced his delivery while doing dishes, cooking dinner and even in the shower. Yet his preparation paid off when he was announced as the winner of the People’s Choice award for his presentation on enhancing the “eyes” of self-driving cars.

Gah-Jone Won rocked the Faculty of Science and came first in the Waterloo competition for his presentation on a promising new treatment for presbyopia – farsightedness caused by loss of elasticity in the eye. The exceptional Vision Science and Biology student went on to win the Ontario round and competed in the national event yesterday against 10 students from across Canada.  

Stay tuned to the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies to find out which provincial champion takes the national prize in June. In the meantime, take a look at Canada’s best graduate student presentations and cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award!

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