K-State doctoral student to represent university at regional Three Minute Thesis competition

MANHATTAN — Abigail Kreznor, doctoral student in chemistry, Woodstock, Illinois, won first place at Kansas State University’s Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT, competition for her presentation, “Moving Brain Cancer: Studying cells in inexpensive ways.”

As the first-place winner, Kreznor received a $500 scholarship and will represent K-State in the 2023 Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools’ Three Minute Thesis Competition in Chicago, Illinois, on March 31.

Kreznor’s major professor is Christopher Culbertson, professor of chemistry and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. The chemistry and entomology programs are the only graduate programs to have two first-place winners in K-State’s 3MT competition.

The Three Minute Thesis is a worldwide academic competition developed by the University of Queensland of Australia. Competitions are now conducted at more than 900 universities in 85 countries.

“Participating in the 3MT is an excellent way for graduate students to develop their research communication skills,” said Claudia Petrescu, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School. “Employers want job candidates who are both highly knowledgeable in their discipline of study and have strong communication skills. The ability to communicate their research concisely using language that is relatable for a diverse audience is an extremely useful tool for graduate students as they launch their professional careers. Congratulations to this year’s finalists and award winners for outstanding presentations of their graduate work!”

K-State’s final round of the 3MT competition was conducted Feb. 22. It featured Kreznor and nine other finalists who were selected from the preliminary competitions on Feb. 8, which featured 52 graduate students. Participants were challenged with explaining their research in three minutes or fewer, using a single, static slide. Finalists presented to an audience of K-State faculty, staff and students and Manhattan community members.

“Participating in the 3MT challenged me to present my graduate research with the shortest time constraint I have ever had,” Kreznor said. “I believe it is important for researchers to remember that being able to communicate to a wide variety of people is a critical skill that should not be overlooked. I am so honored to have been awarded first place among such an incredible group of K-State grad students, and I would like to acknowledge the many supporters and mentors who have helped me along the way.”

Endy Lopes Kailer, doctoral student in agronomy, Minas Gerais, Brazil, won second place and a $250 scholarship for her research presentation, “The hidden heroes – Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) and the future of climate mitigation.” Her major professor is Charles W. Rice, university distinguished professor of agronomy.

“Participating in the 3MT competition was quite an experience!” said Lopes Kailer. “At first, my biggest challenge was trying to simplify my research to make it understandable for a general audience. But as I worked on it, I started to appreciate the opportunity to really evaluate the significance and impact of my research on society. When the day of the competition came, I felt nervous but also excited to share my research with others. It was amazing to see the enthusiasm of other participants, and I felt honored to represent my department in the final. And best of all, I loved how we all connected through our shared passion for research, even though we came from different fields. Overall, it was a valuable experience that I’ll always remember!”

Aspen Streetman, doctoral student in health and human sciences specializing in kinesiology, Gunnison, Colorado, was selected by the audience as the People’s Choice winner for her presentation, “Does resistance training empower women? And should you care?” She earned a $125 scholarship. Her major professor is Katie Heinrich, adjunct professor of kinesiology. Streetman’s research is also mentored by Emily Mailey, associate professor of kinesiology.

“My 3MT experience was a lot like running a long-distance race,” said Streetman. “As soon as I finished, I said to myself, ‘I will NEVER do that again!’ But a few hours later, I was planning for next year’s competition! Empowering women through resistance training is something that I am so passionate about, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to share my passion through 3MT. I was thrilled to receive the People’s Choice award this year, especially since I aim to make my research for the people. Thank you, audience!”

Along with Kreznor, Lopes Kailer and Streetman, the competition also featured the following finalists:

Dylan Wheeler, doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering, Holton; Tucker Graff, master’s student in grain science, Marienthal; Conrad Kabus, master’s student in grain science, Topeka; and Kylee Jennings, master’s student in regional and community planning, Wichita.

From out of state: Hannah Dea, doctoral student in biology, Templeton, Iowa.

From out of country: Amogh Sirnoorkar, doctoral student in physics, and Shivaprasad Doddabematti Prakash, doctoral student in grain science, both from India.

Judges for the event were Kimathi Choma, assistant dean of diversity, recruitment and retention, College of Arts and Sciences; Mary Ice, K-State alumna and advocate; Linda Morse, city commissioner and previous mayor of Manhattan; Claudia Petrescu, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School; David Rosowsky, vice president for research; Kiana Schulze, 2022 3MT second-place winner and doctoral student in kinesiology; and Jason Smith, president and CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

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