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2021 Vanderbilt 3MT Competition

2021 Vanderbilt 3MT Competition!

9th Annual Vanderbilt University Three Minute Thesis Competition

Date: Thursday, March 4, 2021, 9:00 AM

Location: Virtual (Zoom)

Vanderbilt University’s Graduate Student Council will be hosting the 8th annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition this Thursday, March 4th from 9:00 AM CST until 1:30 PM CST. The event is virtual and open to the public, and we would love for everyone to join us! 

We have 60 graduate students across 26 departments presenting this year! Come support the graduate students in your department, and be sure to stick around at the end of the event to vote for your favorite talk. The presenter with the most votes will win the People’s Choice Award ($250)!

You do not have to stay for the entire event, so feel free to enter and leave as your schedule allows. Please remember to use proper Zoom etiquette and keep your microphone muted at all times. 

Zoom details:

Meeting ID: 996 5081 6248.


Application to participate:  Google form
Registration Deadline: Thursday, February 11, 2021
Deadline for Slide Submission: Thursday, February 25, 2021

Vanderbilt has hosted the Three Minute Thesis Competition for its students since 2013. 3MT® is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland. It challenges students to present their research for a non-specialist audience. Students are allowed only two things: (1) up to three minutes to talk and (2) a single, static PowerPoint slide.

To get more involved, or for more information, contact the Co-VPs of Academic Affairs:

Bryant Best:

Jessica Feller:

Information for Participants:

There will be 10 finalists chosen by the judges. Finalists will receive a cash prize of $100, unless they are People’s Choice, who receives $250, Runner Up, who receives $500, or First Place, who receives $1000. This is also an opportunity to develop an elevator pitch for job interviews.

To be eligible, participants must be in at least their 2nd year of a Vanderbilt Graduate School program pursuing a research-based degree (PhD, MS, MA, MFA, and MLAS). Students pursuing M.Ed, EdD, MDiv, MEng, MD, JD, or MBA are not currently eligible. The research must be original to the participant, undertaken while at Vanderbilt, and more extensive than a course assignment.

The initial application asks for biographical information, a specialist title for your research, and a 3MT title for your research (which must be free of jargon and interesting to a general audience).

Registration Deadline: Thursday, February 11, 2021

After the initial application, students will submit a 3MT PowerPoint slide. The slide must be 4:3 or 10”w by 7.5”h (Design –> Slide Size). No transitions, animations, movements, or sounds are allowed. No graphics or text are required, and less is generally more. Use the content to cue your audience to something important or give them a way of understanding your explanations.

Deadline for Slide Submission: Thursday, February 25, 2021

On the day of the competition, all participants will be evaluated in three areas: how well the audience understood the research (comprehension), how much the speaker made the audience want to learn more (engagement), and whether the participant spoke in language that non-academics could understand (communication style). The top 10 participants will advance to a final round for a shot at the First Place, Runner Up, and People’s Choice prizes.

For a complete list of rules, go here.

Previous 3MTs

2021 Finalists: Kelsey Best, Jeremy Espano, Lacee Satcher, Amanda Shimizu, Kyle Garland, Jessica Raff, Fai Wisittanawat, and Kelsey McNew. People’s Choice: Samantha Shwager. Runner Up: Tata Kavlashvili. 1st Place: Ying Ji

2019: Finalists: Brittany Spitznagel, Andrew Porter, Alison Hessling, Mackenzie Sunday, Megan van der Horst, Robert Marx, Colbie Chinowsky. People’s Choice: Portia Botchway. Runner Up: Jessamyn Perlmutter. 1st Place: Ibrahim Ahmed

2018: Winner and People’s Choice Award: Hannah Krimm, Runner Up: Sandya Lakkur

2017: Final Round (Elizabeth Lanphier, Allison Gilmour, Sichang Lu (People’s Choice), Edward van Opstal, Archana Krishnamoorthy (Winner), Samantha Sarett, May Jianhong Shen, Iliza Butera, Raajaram Gowrishankar (Runner Up), and Daniel Kashima

2015: Winner and People’s Choice: Kelsey Beavers, Runner Up: Lillian Johnson, People’s Choice: Aaron Howard

2014: Winner: Benjamin Dean, Runner Up: Caryn Tamber-Rosenau, People’s Choice: Christopher Gulka

Successful participants generally: communicate their research clearly and without jargon; grab the audience’s attention with an image, case, anecdote, or research application; and use their PowerPoint slide to reinforce the most important idea(s) or to provide an interesting or illuminating analogy for the research.