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Communicating Research Relevance: The Three Minute Thesis Competition 2024

Communicating complex scientific information in a succinct and engaging manner, College of Life Sciences graduate students presented their compelling research in a mere three minutes. Competing in the College’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, students not only conveyed the general content of their work, but also its relevance to an audience not privy to their field of study. This year’s competitors demonstrated the significance of their work and its potential to bless the lives of many within our global community.

Winners of the college 3MT competition were awarded cash prizes, with the first-place position receiving $1,000, second $600, and third $300. The first-place winner will participate in a broader campus-wide competition.

Amongst several thought-provoking presentations, the winners of the competition were:

1st: Jared Steele (EXSC)— Leveraging SuperShoe Technology for Clinical Care

SuperShoes enhance running performance by decreasing the amount of oxygen a runner needs. But does it have the same effect on everyday walking? Steele conducted a study that showed similarly significant results for SuperShoe users who walk. This means that SuperShoes could be used to decrease the metabolic cost put on patients who begin to walk again after an operation or illness.

Jared Steele (White and blue button up shirt with BYU logo, light skin, brown hair) stands on the right of the frame with a screen with his slide on the left.
Photo by Tanner Frost

2nd: Kevin Gray (NEURO)— The Effect of Redox Changes on Optic Tectum Development and Behavior

Gray is shedding light on how symptoms of autism may develop due to improper development in a part of the brain called the superior colliculus. By studying a comparable structure in zebrafish called the optic tectum, Gray is on his way to understanding more about what autism looks like in the brain and how we can treat it.

Kevin Gray (black jacket, white shirt and tie, tan pants, curly hair and light skin), stands to the right with a slide of his on a screen to the left. A crowd of around 4 people are seen sitting in chairs below the screen.
Photo by Tanner Frost

3rd: Jacob Herring (NDFS)— Diabetes Research: What Are We Really Studying?

Herring says that we might not be studying diabetes the right way. He noticed that the sugar concentration of the cultures used to study diabetes were significantly higher than sugar concentrations in diabetic individuals. Herring decided to make a sugar-accurate culture that will allow scientists to study what’s actually going on with diabetes.

Jacob Herring (black button up shirt, blue jeans, light skin, beard and dark hair) holds up his hand while presenting on the left side of the frame. His slide is on a screen on the right. Several people sit in chairs around tables.
Photo by Tanner Frost

Other contestants and their presentations:

  • Rachael David Prince—The Great Wall of Bacteria: Capsules
  • Kaylee Draughon—Evaluating Cheatgrass as an Ecological Trap for Burrowing Owls
  • Annalie Martin—Neurexins and Zebrafish: Neurodevelopmental Disorders Getting Fishy
  • Ricard Noriega—Comparative Analysis of Comorbidity Prevalence in Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes: A Cross-Sectional Study in El Paso, Texas
  • Clara Smith—More Invested and Knowledgeable Biology Teachers

Benjamin Crookston, professor of public health and associate dean in the College of Life Sciences who conducted the event, says that “it has been rewarding to see [students] do this each year as they learn to communicate their work effectively to a general audience.”

The university-wide 3MT competition will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 21, in the Wilkinson Student Center Varsity Theatre. First-place winner Jared Steele will compete against students from other colleges for additional cash prizes.