Three Minute Thesis



The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by graduate students.  Developed by the University of Queensland and utilized at universities all over the world, 3MT cultivates students' academic, presentation, and research communication skills.  The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. 


Currently enrolled master's and doctoral students in all disciplines will be eligible to participate in 3MT.  Work must have been conducted at SMU.  

Note: Students who competed in previous SMU 3MT competitions are eligible to participate again if they did not win a prize.


First Place: $800

Second Place: $400

People's Choice: $400


  • A single, static PowerPoint slide is permitted.  No slide transitions, animations, or movement of any description are allowed.  The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration. 
  • No additional electronic media (e.g., sound and video files) is permitted. 
  • No additional props (e.g., costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted. 
  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified. 
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g., no poems, raps, or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage. 
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech. 
  • The decision of the judging panel is final. 

Judging Criteria

Each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below.  Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience. 

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement and Communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact, and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation  - was it clear, legible, and concise? 

Previous Competitions

Fall 2023 Competition

First Place: Murphy (Keller) Young, Education PhD: "Examining Teacher Candidates' Instructional Moves During a Simulated Writing Conference: A Case Study"

Runner Up: Melissa Sitton, Psychology PhD: "Caregiver Emotional Support in Relation to Adolescent Functioning After Sexual Abuse: Findings with Enhanced Methods"

People's Choice: Yaofang Hu, Statistical Science PhD: "Variational Bayesian Semi-supervised Keyword Extraction"

 2023 Finals Program 

Fall 2022 Competition

First Place: Claire Trotter, Education (Applied Physiology) PhD: “Cardiovascular Control in Females with Multiple Sclerosis” (video)

Second Place: Mayson Trujillo, Psychology PhD: “Identifying Transient States That Influence Dependability: An Empirical Examination of Transient Measurement Error” (video)

People's Choice: Rajeev Vaisakh, Physics PhD: “Probing the Cosmic Expansion in Nearby and Distant Universe” (video)

2022 Finals Program

Fall 2021 Competition

Congratulations to the winners of SMU's Fall 2021 Three Minute Thesis Competition:

First Place: Megan Brown, Anthropology Ph.D. Program: “Reforestation, Resilience, and Health in Costa Rica”

Runner Up (Tie): Jamie Nguyen, Psychology Ph.D. Program: “College Women’s Sexual Orientation, Sexual Victimization, and Endorsement of Hookup Culture”

Runner Up (Tie): Sian Xiao, Theoretical and Computational Chemistry Ph.D. Program: “Prediction of Protein Allosteric Sites”

People's Choice: Ishna Satyarth, Computer Science Ph.D. Program: “Application of Machine Learning in Reduced-Scaling Quantum Chemistry”

The Fall 2021 Three Minute Thesis Competition took place on Nov. 9 and 12.  View the program for the finals:

2021 Finals Program 

Fall 2020

First Place:  Andres Roque, Clinical Psychology

Second Place:  Lacin Yapindi, Molecular and Cellular Biology

People's Choice (tie):  Dawn Crawford, Anthropology; Mayar Mohamed, Chemistry

The competition took place from 12-1pm on Thursday, Nov. 19 over Zoom. The program for the finals is available here.  

 Fall 2019

Winner: Alison Krauss, Psychology (video)

Runner Up (tie): Shuang Jiang, Statistical Science (video), and Elie Salameh, Mechanical Engineering (video)

People's Choice: Faris Altamimi, Civil and Environmental Engineering (video)

Spring 2019

Winner and People's Choice: Niraj Verma, Chemistry (video)

Runner Up: Tetiana Hutchison, Biology (video)

Second Runner Up: Francesco Trozzi, Chemistry (video)

Spring 2018

Winner: Aditi Malu, Biology

Runner Up: Benjamin Williams, Statistical Science

People's Choice (tie): Yulan Bai, EMIS, and Aditi Malu, Biology

Photos from the 2018 3MT Competition