3MT Competition

Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

3MT trademark imageThree Minute Thesis (3MT®) celebrates the exciting research conducted by Ph.D. and master’s students. Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), the exercise cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes with just one slide.

3MT Pilot Winners

UNC Charlotte’s inaugural Three-Minute Thesis pilot on January 19th, saw nine brave graduate students squeeze years of work and thousands of words into a three-minute presentation using only one slide for support.

2017 UNC Charlotte 3MT participants

2017 3MT competitors: top row (from left to right): Kang Li, Soheil Razmyar, Saeed Mohajeryami, Robert Bickmeier, and Ziaul Haq Adnan. Bottom row (from left to right): Zahra Razzaghpanah, Shayan S. Nazari, Neha Mittal, and Danny Yonto.

Shayan Nazari, Biological Sciences Ph.D. program, took both the First Place and People's’ Choice Awards in the event that is aimed at sharpening the students’ academic, presentation and communication skills. 

Shayan’s presentation on her thesis, “Breast Density: The Double-Edged Sword,” earned her $550 for the two awards and the opportunity to represent UNC Charlotte in the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools’ regional competition in Annapolis, MD, March 2-5.

“Through this experience, I learned how to effectively highlight the significance of my research and be able to communicate the main goal of my thesis in a very short amount of time,” Shayan said.  “Sometimes, three minutes or less is all we have to explain what we do to a person outside our field, during a job interview or while networking. So I think learning and practicing to effectively communicate my PhD research to an audience from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions … is crucial to my future success as a scientist.”

Danny Yonto, Geography and Urban Regional Analysis Ph.D. program, took second place ($300 award) for his 3-minute presentation on “What are the Characteristics of Contemporary Gentrification?  A Case Study of Charlotte, NC.”

Other participants in the 2017 competition included:

  • Zahra Razzaghpanah, Mechanical Engineering, “Thermal Energy Storage System”

  • Ziaul Haq Adnan, Infrastructure and Environmental Systems, “Bullwhip Effect in Pricing”

  • Kang Li, Electrical Engineering, “Magnetic Gears: A Challenge to Mechanical Gears?”

  • Neha Mittal, Biological Sciences, “Metabolomics and Genomics Integrative Approach for Genetic Dissection of Wild Soybean Complex Traits”

  • Soheil Razmyar, Mechanical Engineering, “Controlled Growth and Property Study of Two-dimensional Oxide Nanostructures”

  • Saeed Mohajeryami, Electrical Engineering, “Load Reduction Evaluation in Demand Response (DR) Programs Offered to Residential Customers”

  • Robert Bickmeier, Organizational Science, “Differentiating Dirty Work”

Images courtesy of Daniel Jones.

2017 3MT Competition Highlights

Opening Remarks
by Hali Hutchison

First Place and People's Choice Winner
Shayan Nazari

Danny Yonto

The History of 3MT

The first 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2008 with 160 Research Higher Degree students competing. In 2009 and 2010 the 3MT competition was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand universities and enthusiasm for the concept grew. Due to its adoption in numerous universities, a multi-national event was developed, and the Inaugural Trans-Tasman 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2010.Since 2011, the popularity of the competition has increased and 3MT competitions are now held in over 350 universities across more than 18 countries worldwide.

Why participate?

Skills development for research candidates
The exercise develops academic, presentation and research communication skills, while developing research candidates’ ability to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Building research culture in schools and institutes
3MT provides a valuable opportunity for research higher degree candidates to come together, get to know one another and talk about their research. It also provides a supportive environment in which Schools and Institutes can provide presentation skills training.

Building external relations for the university
3MT winners may go on to represent their university at national and international 3MT competitions which provides an excellent networking and professional development opportunity. Previous 3MT finalists have benefited from invitations to a variety of other networking events following their participation in the competition.


UNC Charlotte’s 3MT competition is open to current master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation students only.


  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

Comprehension & Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement & Communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?

About the Competition

Participation is limited to the first 60 master’s or doctoral students to register.  Any eligible entries received beyond 60 will be put on a waiting list to be reviewed if space becomes available.

The two qualifying rounds will take place on Friday, November 3, 2017. Participants will be assigned randomly to either the morning session or the afternoon session. 

Ten students will be selected from the qualifying rounds to participate in the final round. The final round will take place on Friday, November 10, 2017. 

Winners from the final round will receive cash prizes: first place ($500), runner-up ($400), and people’s choice ($200). The first place winner will also receive travel funding to represent UNC Charlotte at the Council of Southern Graduate School’s annual meeting.


You can learn more about the 3MT® here: http://threeminutethesis.org. If you have any questions, please email Coren O'Hara.