Three Minute Thesis (3MT) at UVA




Click here to view and vote for UVa winner, Stacy Malaker's 3MT Presentation in the international U21 3MT Competition! 

Stacy is competing against 16 other finalists from universities around the globe to win both the Judges' First Place, as well as the People's Choice Award (which is decided by your vote!). People's Choice Voting closes October 20th and all award winners will be announced on October 28th.


2014 UVA 3MT Results

The 2nd Annual UVa Three Minute Thesis competition was held on September 25, 2014. Congratulations to all 8 of our finalists! The winners of the 2014 UVa 3MT competition are:

1st Place: Stacy Malaker, Chemistry, "Stopping Cancer Before it Starts: Development of a Groundbreaking Vaccine"

2nd Place: Christine Hardigree, Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education, "The Secret Super Powers of Students"

3rd Place: Ajinkya Kamat, Physics, "Can we solve the mystery of 'Neutrinos' at Large Hadron Collider?"

Audience Choice: Eric Greenwald, Biomedical Engineering, "Scaffold Proteins: (un)leashing efficient communication"

Jennifer Barlow, Spanish
Juhi Ranjan, Computer Science
Niranjan Sridhar, Physics
Francesca Tripodi, Sociology


UVa 3MT 2014 Winners (from L to R): Eric Greenwald, Ajinkya Kamat, Stacy Malake, and Christine Hardigree


Look for videos of all our 2014 finalists to be posted soon!




Whether you're networking, interviewing for a job, or just having a conversation at a party, it is essential to have an "elevator pitch" to describe your dissertation work. Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is a competition that helps graduate students develop the necessary communication skills to effetively explain their scholarship in a clear and succinct way so that all people, from field-specialist to the lay-person, can understand the topic and importance of their work. Plus, it comes with the opportunity to win cash and prizes!

Students at UVA will present their dissertation topic in three minutes or less via a video submission. Videos will be judged by a diverse panel of professionals (academic and non-academic) and the top eight will advance to the UVA Live Competition. The first place winner of the UVA Live Competition will advance to the international U21 Grand Final competition


What is the 3MT competition?
What can I gain from participating?
Who's eligible to participate?
When and where is the competition?
How do I enter?
How did 3MT get started?
View past entries and archive of past events




What is the 3MT competition?

3MT is a way for graduate students to learn how to deliver their work to non-specialists in a short period of time, with just a single visual aid. UVA graduate students are invited to participate in the second annual 3MT competition by submitting a video entry. Students with winning entries will be invited to present as finalists for the UVA competition, scheduled for Spring 2015


What can I gain from participating?

3MT paticpants consistently cite the competition as directly responsible for helping them develop the abilities to communicate clearly and succinctly, and to engage both their field of research as well as the general public. Many participants reported that their experience of interviewing for jobs - both inside and outside of the academy - was greatly enhanced because they were well prepared to talk about their work in a variety of settings and for broad audiences.

Prizes for the 2014 3MT Competition

Students who advance to the UVA Live 3MT Competition will compete for the following prizes to be awarded by a panel of judges:

  • $1000 for the first place winner
  • $500 for the second place winner
  • $250 for the third place winner
  • $100 for the audience choice winner

The first place winner of UVA's competition will have their entry advanced to the U21 Grand Final competition. In that competition, the prizes are as follows:

  • First prize is a $2500 travel award, to be used for travel to any one of the U21 universities, in order to benefit the student's research or career opportunities
  • Highly commended entrants will receive $500
  • The winner of the People's Choice Award will receive $300 


Who's eligible to participate?

UVA graduate students enrolled in a doctoral program who have passed their qualifying exams are eligible to enter the 3MT competition.


When and where is the competition?

The most recent UVA 3MT Live Competition was held on Thursday, September 25, 2014 from 3:00 to 5:00pm in the Newcomb Hall Ballroom. Keep an eye out for the next UVA 3MT Competition in Spring 2015!


How do I enter?

Entries are not yet being accepted for the 2015 UVA 3MT Competition.


How do I make a video of my presentation, and what should it look like?

This video by Laura Alexander (Ph.D. candidate, Religious Ethics) was one of the submissions selected for advancement to the UVA Live Finals in 2013. It is a good example of how a video submission should look. In brief, the video should be shot in a static form (no moving cameras or switching zoom/angles), against a neutral and unchanging background. The upper half of the student’s body (roughly from the waist up) should be visible, and the student should not move around during the video (gestures are fine, but no walking/jumping/polkaing). Check lighting and sound to make sure your voice is clear and you can be seen.

All this said, for these videos the content is the most important thing, so don’t feel you have to be a professional videographer to submit a video. You can use any available device to create your video, such as a cell phone or tablet with video capabilities, your computer's buil-in camera, or a video camera. Just make sure to use a neutral, static background as well as sufficient video and audio quality to be seen and heard. Any student whose presentation is comprehensible has a chance at being selected for the live presentation, and the winner of the live presentation will receive help to create and submit a video for the U21 competition that showcases your presentation in the best possible light.


Need equipment to record or edit your video? Contact the Digital Media Lab for access to video and audio recording equipment, editing software, and more!


Specific rules for making the video:

  • Videos should include only the student presentation. It is optional to include a title slide preceeding the presentation.
  • The presentation portion of the video must be no longer than 3 minutes in length, or the submission will be disqualified. The presentation is considered to have begun when the student starts the presentation through movement or speech. If included, the title slide at the beginning of the video does not count as part of the 3-minute presentation.
  • Submissions should include a single, static slide (see examples - no transitions, movement, or animation in the slide). This can either be submitted as a separate image file containing one slide or can be included in the video submission superimposed on the student's presentation or may be "cut to" as many times as you like, but for a cumulative duration of no more than one minute total.
  • The 3-minute audio must be continuous, with no breaks or edits. Basically, you're recreating the experience of doing a live presentation, but on video.
  • No script or cue cards may be used during the presentation; students must recite their presentation by memory.
  • No additional props are permitted (i.e. costumes, musical instruments, lab equipment).
  • Presentations must be spoken-word (i.e. no poems, raps, songs). Note that passages from songs, poems, etc. are acceptable if the presentation requires quoting from such sources, but we recommend that you limit your use of such quotations.
  • No additional electronic media (sound or video files) are permitted within the video recording.


How will my submission be judged?

Videos that do not meet the above specified rules will be excluded from competition. Each eligible competitor’s video submission will be judged using the criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted.

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation help the audience understand the research question being addressed and its significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, key results, and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • 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 over-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?

Video Quality

  • Video submissions that meet the stated rules and eligibility will be judged for content and delivery based on the above criteria, not for the quality of the video recording. The Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs will contact the winner of the UVA 3MT Live Competition for assistance in recording and submitting a video to the international 3MT competition.


How did 3MT get started?

The Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT) was developed in 2008 at the University of Queensland, Australia. Since then, 3MT competitions have been catching on all over the world. This is UVA's second year participating in an international 3MT competition with our partners from around the globe in the Universitas 21 Consortium.

Click here to visit the U21 Three Minute Thesis website, with details about past winners and the schedule for the Grand Final competition.


2013 UVA 3MT Results

UVA held its inaugural 3MT competition in 2013. Congratulations to finalists and winners of the First Annual UVA 3MT Competition! In addition to winning the UVA 3MT competition, Lindsey Brinton won the People's Choice award in the U21 Grand Final competition!

Winner: Lindsey Brinton, Biomedical Engineering, "Catching Tumors In Their Webs"

Runner Up: George Cortina, Biomedical Engineering, "Using Simulations to Understand Drug Resistance"

Laura Alexander, Religious Studies
Philip Asare, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Christine Monaghan, Curry School of Education
Neil Peterson, School of Nursing


Click here to watch past UVA finalist videos.


UVA 3MT Finalists  2013

2013 UVA Finalists (from L to R): Neil Peterson, Philip Asare, Christine Monaghan, George Cortina, Lindsey Brinton, Laura Alexander


Media about the event:

UVAToday Press Release about UVA 3MT Finals

UVAToday Press Release about Lindsey's People's Choice Award

U21 Press Release about 2013 International 3MT Competition Winners


Lindsey Brinton's Winning Video:

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