Kevin McGrath delivering his winning 3MT presentation. Inset: Kevin with his PhD supervisor, Dr Penny van Bergen
Kevin McGrath delivering his winning 3MT presentation. Inset: Kevin with his PhD supervisor, Dr Penny van Bergen

The ultimate elevator pitch

Could you sum up your research in 180 seconds? One of the highlight events of Learning and Teaching week saw our most promising Higher Degree Research candidates tasked with that challenge at the annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Thirteen finalists took to the floor in Macquarie Theatre last Thursday to pitch their research to a highly enthusiastic audience of staff and students.

The ultimate winner was Kevin McGrath from the Faculty of Human Sciences, who presented his thesis: “Will you be good!” Drawing connections between students and teachers. Kevin is currently completing a PhD in Education, with his research looking at primary school student-teacher relationships; with a particular focus on disruptive students and how their views compare to those of their teachers.

Kevin not only impressed the 2015 3MT judging panel of Professor Nick Mansfield, Professor Lesley Hughes and Dr Merilyn Childs, but he was also a crowd favourite, taking out the People’s Choice award as well (voted for by the audience in attendance).

“The quality of the finalists was exceptionally high this year,” said 3MT judge and Dean of Higher Degree Research, Professor Nick Mansfield. “While it makes the judging process difficult, it’s thrilling to witness our emerging research talent in action. What we can see clearly is the huge and positive impact the work of our PhD candidates has on peoples’ lives.”

Winner Kevin says he had something to prove after a somewhat less-successful appearance in the competition two years ago.

“When I entered the 3MT competition two years ago I didn’t make it past the first round. Even though I am confident giving a one-hour lecture to students, I had really underestimated the pressure of the 3MT. So I entered the competition again this year because I knew it would be my last chance to redeem myself from my previous performance.”

“This year, after seeing so many of the other PhD students give their three minute thesis presentations I never expected to win. They were all so amazing and it was really interesting to hear about the scope of research by PhD students here at Macquarie.”

Kevin’s PhD supervisor Dr Penny van Bergen says she was very proud of Kevin’s performance.

“Kevin is the first HDR student I began supervising, and he has clearly set a very high standard! This competition is really a great opportunity for our researchers. When you’re forced to present in such a short amount of time you really must think hard about what your research means and why it matters.”

“It’s great to see Kevin’s hard work rewarded. And all of the presentations were great – we clearly have some very talented young researchers at Macquarie!”

Held as part of Learning and Teaching Week, the finals of the 3MT are the culmination of a number of rounds at Faculty and even Department level that see the top two or three from each Faculty compete for the 3MT title.

Taking out the minor honours this year were Uchechukwu Ngwaba from the Faculty of Arts in second place for his presentation on The Right to Health as the Basis for Transforming the Health Care System of Nigeria and Laura-Kate Shaw from the Faculty of Human Sciences in third place for her presentation “I’d rather be single than date a shithead!”: The dating experiences of women with breast cancer.

Kevin will present his winning 3MT at this Saturday’s TEDxMacquarieUniversity event and will go on to represent Macquarie at the Trans-Tasman 3MT competition at The University of Queensland next Friday 2 October.