TXST names winners of the 2023 Three-Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition


Kate Malazonia | November 7, 2023

3MT® is a research communication competition developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008. The competition has since turned into a multi-national event with 3MT® competitions now being held at over 900 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide. In the competition, graduate students have three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis or dissertation research and its significance to a lay audience, using a single presentation slide. The competition offers an opportunity for graduate students to showcase the exciting research they are conducting - in an environment that challenges their comfort zones and requires them to think outside the box. 

3 minute thesis competitors
Joshua Rogalski (left) Kyndal Irwin (right)

2023 3MT® Competition Winners

This year, the competitor awarded both First Place and the People’s Choice Award was Joshua Rogalski who is completing his M.S. in Human Development and Family Sciences. Rogalski’s winning presentation was titled, ‘Popular Movies and Children's Emotion Understanding: Recognizing Emotion in Live Action vs. Animated Movies’. Rogalski’s passion for his research is evident in his response to being asked about how participating in 3MT® benefited him. 

“I really care about children’s emotional development. This is an opportunity for me to practice communicating that to people who might not understand how critical it is that we look at the way children are developing, especially concerning technology. Hopefully, this is also a building block in my credibility for the advocation of these ideas.”

Second place was won by Kyndal B. Irwin who is completing her Ph.D. in Aquatic Resources and Integrative Biology. Irwin claimed the second-place prize with her presentation titled, ‘A So-fish-ticated Interaction: Habitat Complexity Predicts Cognition in Mosquitofish’. Irwin emphasized that “as a scientist, participating in 3MT® is very helpful because it requires you to condense information and tell a story.”

She continued by highlighting how “a major issue in science is a lack of effective communication with the public. If science is presented in a way that can only be understood by other scientists, the impact of the information is lost. The purpose of biology is to further an understanding of the natural world, and so our discoveries should belong to everyone. A good biologist can translate niche or complex information into a narrative that can reach anyone, and the 3MT® helped me practice this invaluable skill.”

3 minute thesis judges sitting at a table
3MT Judges' Table

Thoughts from the Panel of Judges and a Previous Winner

The 2023 3MT® was host to an esteemed Panel of Judges which included the following individuals:

  • Larry Gaddes, President-Elect, Alumni Association
  • Dr. Cynthia Hernandez, Vice President, Student Success
  • Jane Hughson, Mayor, City of San Marcos
  • Dr. Vincent Morton, Associate Vice President for Student Success, and Dean of Students 
  • Sandy Pantlik, Vice President, Division of University Marketing and Communications
  • Dr. Jennifer Speed, Assistant Vice President for Research Development, Division of Research
  • Dr. Vedaraman Sriraman, Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Success

Mayor Jane Hughson commented on the event saying, “I think this is a wonderful program and I am so glad that Texas State [University] participates in it. If you can’t say what you are going to say in a fairly short period of time, it is going to be hard to present to audiences, especially investors. They [the competitors] are researching things that are good for the community, and good for the world.” 

Upon being asked why competing in 3MT® is important for graduate students’ career development, Dr. Vincent Morton underlined the importance of learning how to “be concise and precise in communicating to others.” He continued saying, “Often the old saying, ‘time is money’ is significant for decision-makers who prefer information that is relevant and to the point. The process reminds me of watching a commercial, the student must grasp the audience’s attention, introduce a product (subject), and thoroughly convey a compelling story in a very short time frame to an audience that may have limited knowledge about the subject (product)!”

Dr. Cynthia Hernandez also addressed the importance of 3MT® saying it allows students to “hone their presentation skills through active engagement and timely feedback from judges and audience members. She added, “It also provides them the opportunity to synthesize the purpose of their research in a concise format using laymen's terms.” 

audience members at tables
Event attendess listening to presentations

Having won the competition in 2021 as an M.A. student, Dr. Elaine Chu returned to watch the competition as a faculty member of Texas State University’s Department of Anthropology.

“When I participated, I was a master’s student here and it made me think long and hard about how to talk and think about my research in a digestible way but also how to sell myself.” Dr. Chu also reflected on the progress she made post- 3MT® saying, “I used those tools to sell myself for my Ph.D., for my postdoc position, and ultimately, sell myself back here in my on-campus interviews and my discussions with faculty. She described 3MT® as a “stepping stone” to get “students, researchers, and scientists thinking about how they can communicate their science in a better way.” 

graduate college group photo
(from left) Dr. Patti Giuffre, Kyndal Irwin, Joshua Rogalski, Dr. Andrea Golato

Future 3MT Competitors

The Graduate College, led by Dean Andrea Golato, organizes the Texas State University competition. Dean Golato highlighted how “3MT® encompasses the full range of academic disciplines and it is one of the key events that The Graduate College encourages all graduate students (with a thesis and dissertation) to participate in. The skills needed to present to a non-specialized audience are deemed highly valuable and paramount in the field of academic research.” Dr. Patti Giuffre, Associate Dean for Retention, elaborated on the importance of participating saying, “3MT® is well-known around the world and highly regarded. Competing demonstrates not only students' knowledge but also their strength, resilience, and gumption.” With the competition having more participation than ever before, it is clear that 3MT® continues to cultivate character and compassion in all members of the Texas State University community. 

The Graduate College encourages all graduate students currently enrolled in a Texas State University research Ph.D. or Ed.D. program and master's students in a thesis track to compete in 3MT®. Information and resources are available for presenters to prepare for the 3MT® competition. To learn more about 3MT® or how to prepare for next year’s competition, please visit our 3MT® webpage.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922