Ohio University

Doctoral student Patricia Mora-Criollo wins 3-Minute Thesis competition

Published: February 20, 2020 Author: George E. Mauzy Jr.

Ohio University’s Graduate College hosted the finals of its annual 3-Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition on Feb. 19 in Stocker Center 103 to determine which of the seven finalists would take home the cash.

The 3MT® competition, which was founded by the University of Queensland in 2008, requires contestants to present an easy to understand summary of their research in three minutes or less.

Contestants must be an OHIO graduate student who is currently working on a dissertation or final research project. They are allowed the use of one static PowerPoint slide with no further assistance from props or electronic media.

Eighteen contestants competed in two rounds of semifinals, Feb. 10 and 12. The top seven finishers competed in Wednesday's finals. The cash prizes included $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place and the People’s Choice winners. 

The first-place winner was Patricia Mora-Criollo, a doctoral student in the Graduate College who is studying Translational Biomedical Sciences. She presented “A New Clue for an Old Puzzle: Growth Hormone and Chagas Disease.” The Ecuador native also won the doctoral student People’s Choice Award.

“The nicest part of the competition is that we are able to summarize the work that we are doing in three minutes, which is hard to do,” Mora-Criollo said. “It was a lot of work, but I got a lot of help from my colleagues. I was nervous and afraid that I would forget something, but I really wanted to share my research so that they know what I’m doing. I’m working with a disease [Chagas] that affects people from my community, so I’m very passionate about it.”

Rachel Stroup, a master’s student in English from Shelby, Ohio, finished second in the competition and also won the master’s student People’s Choice Award. She presented, “The Brilliant Entrance to Hell Itself: Dance Halls, Moral Reform, and Rhetorics of Space in the American Progressive Era (1890-1930).”

“I didn’t expect this at all, especially competing against these STEM people and their fascinating empirical work,” Stroup said. “As the only humanities person I was nervous, but I’m impressed with the results and really happy.”

Hoan Do, a doctoral student in The Patton College of Education’s Educational Research and Evaluation program, finished third. She presented “Parameter Recovery for the Four-Parameter Unidimensional Binary Item Response Theory Model: A Comparison of Marginal Maximum Likelihood and Markov Chai Monte Carlo Approaches.” The native of Vietnam said it was great to finish in the top three.

“I really enjoy breaking down my research to the general public so that it reaches as many people as possible,” she said. “Everybody was excellent tonight and all of the research presentations made sense to the people outside of their field. They all explained it so clearly.”

Dr. David Koonce, associate vice president for research and associate dean of the Graduate College, served as the master of ceremony.

The competition’s five judges were: Dr. Kelly Broughton, assistant dean for research and education services in University Libraries; Dr. Shawn Ostermann, senior associate dean for research and graduate studies in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology; Dr. Steve Patterson, City of Athens mayor; Dr. Beth Quitslund, faculty fellow in the Graduate College and professor of English; and Dr. Cynthia Tindongan, director of thesis and dissertation services in the Graduate College.

The judges ranked the contestants based on comprehension and content (10 points maximum) and engagement with the audience (10 points maximum) for a total of 20 possible points.

Dr. Becky Bushey-Miller, director of communications and professional development in the Graduate College, coordinated the event. She said any graduate student who is doing research should consider competing in this competition because it helps them better explain their research to anyone who is not familiar with it.

“Tonight was great,” Dr. Bushey-Miller said. “Every year the competition gets more difficult. The students are always awesome, so it makes it hard to choose a winner.”