Chidinma presenting her 3MT

February 21, 2020, by Ryan Neal

How the 3MT Competition became a springboard for my career

Virology PhD student Chidinma Raymond was the 2019 People’s Choice winner of the Universitas 21 (U21) Global Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. In this blog post she reflects on her experience.

In 2019 I was thrilled to win the People’s choice award at the Universitas21 global 3MT competition. To get to that highpoint though I went through an empowering and priceless journey, with many steps along the way.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by the University of Queensland in 2008. Three Minute Thesis challenges doctoral researchers to deliver a compelling spoken presentation on their thesis topic, its originality and its significance in just three minutes, in an engaging form that can be understood by an intelligent audience with no background in the research area.

As a PhD student in Virology my research interest is in Hepatitis B virus (HBV), a blood-borne virus that infects the human liver, causing hepatitis that kills about 780,000 people globally each year, with 292 million people currently infected, and a prediction of 30 million new infections each year. Bearing this in mind, it is not hard to see why many people might be interested in my research. At the same time, the science involved isn’t necessarily easy for a lay audience to understand. So the 3MT competition, held at University of Nottingham, seemed like a good opportunity for me to develop my presentation, research and academic communication skills so as to be able to explain my research more effectively.

Before entering the University of Nottingham round of 3MT I received coaching sessions from Graduate School researcher training and development staff. This helped me to overcome any public speaking anxiety, and allowed me to hone my presentation skills before and during the competition. In May 2019, I entered and won the University of Nottingham UK 3MT Competition as well as the University of Nottingham TriCampus 3MT competition (between the UK, Malaysia and China campuses). This qualified me to represent the University of Nottingham in the East Midlands Doctoral 3MT competition and after several rigorous rounds of competition and so much hard work, I emerged as the Judges’ winner and People’s choice winner.

Presenting a four-year research project in a concise and understandable way to a non-specialist audience helped me to develop many different skillsets. Public speaking can be a nerve-racking experience, yet is required in many careers. Participating in the various 3MT competitions greatly developed my communication and public engagement skills, enabling me to speak about my research with confidence. Furthermore, understanding how a research project fits within the larger picture is an important skillset both in academia and outside. Condensing a research project into a three-minute general audience presentation also improved the quality and impact of my research, enabling me to gain new perspectives on my research purpose, thus making the research and thesis writing process, much easier.

Drawing on all of this experience, I made a new version of my 3MT video presentation and submitted it for the people’s choice award at the Universitas21 global 3MT competition. In October 2019 I found out I had won!

Carrying on from here as a researcher, I hope to continually engage with the public about my research as well as inspire the next generation of researchers to do the same. I am grateful to the University of Nottingham for this invaluable platform that has empowered me with so many life skills and become a springboard for my career.

Watch Chidinma’s video “Hepatitis B Virus Mutations: The Problem of a Many-faced Thief

Interested in entering the 2020 3MT competition? Find out how.

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