06 September 2021

Why do some people have a better memory? Is cynicism the new workplace disease? Can satellites help us to detect the beginnings of a bushfire?

If you want answers to these questions in double quick time, register to watch the University of South Australia’s live stream Three Minute Thesis (3MT) virtual competition on Thursday 9 September.

Seven PhD candidates will condense three years of research into 180 seconds and one static slide – no small feat given the topics are complex – and communicate their findings to an everyday audience watching from home.

This is the second year that UniSA has presented a virtual 3MT competition due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the success of last year’s event augers well for the finalists, who will compete for a total of $5000 prize money.

This year’s finalists and their 3MT topics are:

  • Sophie Jano, UniSA Justice & Society, “Past, present and prediction: how your brain adapts to complexity”

Sophie aims to verify brain activity relating to prediction, to determine whether individual differences in predictive processing can affect memory and information uptake.

  • Kathryn Stephenson, UniSA Business, “Cynicism: the unmeasured contagious workplace disease”

One in two employees exhibits some form of workplace cynicism, which can be costly for organisations as it is toxic and contagious. Kathryn’s tool to measure cynicism will allow organisations to identify it earlier and ward off reductions in productivity and employee turnover.

  • Liang Zhao, UniSA STEM, “Detecting early fire smoke from satellites with artificial intelligence methods.

To help prevent extreme fire disasters, Liang is developing an artificial intelligence model to detect smoke from small early fires using satellite imagery.

  • Cintya Dharmayanti, UniSA Clinical and Health Sciences, “Highway to Health: Driving towards personalised ovarian cancer treatment”

Cintya’s research focuses on the development of a nanoparticle system for ovarian cancer drug delivery, leading to more effective treatments and reduced side effects.

  • Foteini Pasenidou, UniSA Education Futures, “What can ‘disable’ students’ inclusion in Australian schools?”

Foteini is exploring the practices that encourage and also challenge students’ access, participation and achievement in order to promote inclusivity in schools.

  • Katharine McBride, UniSA Allied Health and Human Performance, “Culture and spirit keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s hearts strong

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience high rates of heart disease and stroke. Katharine’s PhD identifies how Aboriginal culture, spirit and society can protect the heart, offering a different perspective to the western viewpoint of medicine.

  • Aprille Chua, UniSA Creative, “Projecting a Dynamic Workplace for Your Wellbeing”

Aprille's research investigates if the use of environmental graphic design, when combined with digital augmented reality content, can have a positive impact on the work experience and emotional wellbeing of employees in the healthcare environment.

Dean of Graduate Studies, Professor Sandra Orgeig, says the enduring success of the Three Minute Thesis competition is due to academic ideas and findings being communicated in a language that ordinary people can understand.

“Ultimately, the public funds this research through their tax dollars, so it is critical that students can explain complex research to a lay audience,” Prof Orgeig says.

“This year we have seven outstanding finalists who will present their work across a tremendously diverse range of topics and I’m sure that everyone will learn something new.

“While the virtual environment alleviates the pressure of presenting in front of a live audience, in some ways it is more challenging because the finalists do not have a room full of people with whom they can interact and draw energy from. It is a real test of their skills.”

The overall winner of the UniSA 3MT will represent the University at the 2021 Virtual Asia Pacific 3MT Competition on Wednesday 20 October.

Note for editors

The Three Minute Thesis competition originated out of a novel solution to Queensland’s severe drought in 2008 when residents were encouraged to limit their showers to three minutes to conserve water. The then Dean of the Graduate School, University of Queensland, put the two and two together and the idea of the 3MT competition was born. Today, 3MT is held in over 900 universities across more than 80 countries worldwide.


Media contact: Candy Gibson office (08) 8302 0961 mobile: 0434 605 142 email: candy.gibson@unisa.edu.au


Other articles you may be interested in