Announcement of the winners of the USM Graduate School three-minute thesis competition

Mon 11/22/2021 – 3:27 PM | By: David Tisdale

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Graduate School hosted its eighth annual Three-Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) from November 3-4 in a hybrid format, with participants making presentations online and in person.

Nearly 40 students, including four online students who participated virtually, presented their work in this year’s competition to a live audience and a panel of judges in three-minute presentations that captured the importance of their research in an engaging and easy-to-understand manner. The presentations covered the range of disciplines, from mathematics to literature.

In the 3MT competition, participants explain their thesis or dissertation in a three-minute presentation, effectively communicating the importance of their topic and their research to a non-academic audience. The competition offers students an important opportunity to hone their communication skills by distilling the message and creating a presentation that engages ordinary people, not just others in the same discipline – a valuable skill to master because as future independent researchers. , they will have to regularly “sell” their research to people outside their discipline. Another advantage of the competition is that the students compete for very substantial monetary prizes.

A total of eight finalists from four categories each received $ 250. They understand:

Physical sciences and mathematics:

  • Sonia Stanciu, Polymer Science and Engineering “Upconversion: A Roller Coaster of Light”
  • Mark Robertson, Polymer Science and Engineering, “Finding Function in Discarded Masks Through Conversion to Carbon Materials”

Arts and humanities

  • Rodrigo Lara Alonso, Music Education, “Classical Guitar Players’ Perceptions of Community Cultural Richness: Implications for Social Justice”
  • Kayla Schreiber, English, “Deconstructing Fugitivity in Nineteenth Century Slave Narratives”

Social and educational sciences and business

  • Joyee Washington, Research, Evaluation, Statistics and Evaluation, “Sex Education and Professional Development in Mississippi”
  • Wendi Lord, Human Capital Development, “Thrive at Work Through Technology-Aided Visualization”

Life, health and environmental sciences

  • Alexander Wright, Kinesiology (Exercise Sciences), “Reducing Negative Vascular Changes from Prolonged Sitting: Are Interruptions to Standing or Pre-walking Effective?” ”
  • Latoyia Downs, Biological Sciences, “Understanding the Functional Role of Selenoproteins and the Unfolded Response in the Blacklegged Tick (Ixodes scapularis)”

The top 3MT competition winners received additional prizes and included the following students:

* Grand Champion: Sonia Stanciu (prize of $ 1000)

* Finalist: Joyee Washington (prize of $ 750)

* People’s Choice Award: Latoyia Downs ($ 500)

Stanciu will participate in the 3MT competition at the annual meeting of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, February 17-19, 2022, in Raleigh, NC.

Dr. Karen S. Coats, Vice President and Dean of USM Graduate School, said she was delighted that the three-minute thesis competition had returned at least in part to a face-to-face format after the pandemic forced students across the country to compete exclusively via pre-recorded videos in 2020, and praised participants for the quality and importance of their work, citing them as major contributors to the university’s R1 research status .

“I congratulate everyone who entered for the courage it took to try this contest, and especially the winners whose presentations have climbed to the top of one of our most competitive 3MT events in the past eight years. where we hosted the contest in Southern Miss. ”said Dr. Coats. “Their talent was evident during the competition. This is a very difficult, but important, skill to master, as researchers are more likely to talk about their work to people outside their discipline than to people in the same field.

For more information on the 3MT competition, as well as the USM Graduate School, visit

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