Students from SBS excel in 3MT® competition

Four PhD students from the School of Biomedical Sciences presented at the University of Melbourne’s 2019 Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) grand final on 7 August.

Therese Fazio Coles was awarded the runner up prize, a $2000 grant, for her thesis, “A gut full: Obesity and the gut”. Her research aims to "enrich our understanding of the role enteroendocrine cells play in obesity."

Roberto Bonelli, Georgina Craig and Michael Dixon from SBS also made the finals.

The finalists had to communicate their research projects in no more than three minutes using a single PowerPoint slide.

Therese is currently completing her PhD into the relationship between obesity and the gut in the Furness Laboratory of Digestive Physiology and Nutrition in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, where she also completed her Masters. She did her Honours at the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Department of Colorectal Medicine and Genetics.

Roberto, a statistician who analyses big masses of data related to a rare eye disease, focused his presentation on “Casting a light on the dark shadow of MacTel”. He is a PhD student at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Before starting his PhD, Roberto graduated in statistical sciences at the University of Bologna in Italy and the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Georgina is a PhD Student in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience in the Neurotrophin and Myelin Laboratory, who presented her thesis on “How early life experience changes the brain”. She is interested in the biology underlying brain growth, learning and neuroplasticity, and particularly questions such as: how do our brains grow? Do we ever stop learning? And, do our lived experiences alter our brain's capacity for neuroplasticity?

Michael’s research contention is that “Bad blood causes blindness”. He is currently in the second year of his PhD in the Visual Neuroscience Laboratory where he hopes to find new treatments to fight retinal diseases that cause blindness. Michael has a passion for teaching and says his favourite part of completing his PhD is “when he gets to drop some knowledge on people”.

Alexis Ceecee Zhang (School of Health Sciences) was the overall winner of the competition.

You can view the video recordings of the winners and finalists here.

The 3MT® is a professional and engaging international competition. It challenges PhD students to present their research in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience in the space of three minutes.

The judges of the competition were:

  • Wing Yan Chan: 2018 University of Melbourne Three Minute Thesis Competition winner
  • Clare Forster: Former publisher, now heading up the Melbourne office of Australia’s leading literary agency, Curtis Brown
  • Paul Kennedy: Author, journalist and broadcaster currently presenting on ABC News Breakfast
  • Mike Lanzing: General Manager, UniBank

All the presentations were inspiring to witness, and we're excited to see the impact of the research by Therese, Roberto, Georgina, Michael, Alexis and all the other 3MT® participants.