Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Pitt Competition

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Pitt Competition


2020 Pitt 3MT Competition Winners!

Twenty graduate students from across the university competed in the 2020 3MT competition. This year's winners were announced on April 20, 2020.

You can still watch each contestant's video presentation here.


First Place – $1,000 travel grant

J. Stephanie Rose, School of Computing and Information

Telecommunications Policy, Regulation, and Enforcement: A 20 Year Retrospective of FCC Adjudication



Runner Up – $500 travel grant

Michelle Heusser, Swanson School of Engineering

Understanding how neurons drive eye movements may help us treat ADHD


Runner Up – $500 travel grant

Angelica Herrera, Swanson School of Engineering

Brain-computer interfaces: From the lab to daily living


People’s Choice Award – $1,000 travel grant

Xin (Oliver) Tong, School of Pharmacy

Protein-loaded polymeric films can offer protection for women against HIV infection


What is a 3MT competition?

The 3MT competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students. Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), 3MT cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. 

Read about the 2019 3MT Pitt Competition.

Read about the 2018 3MT Pitt Competition.

Who is eligible to enter?

PhD students who have successfully completed the dissertation proposal defense (PhD candidate status) and are actively in the dissertation stage of training are eligible.

Preparation workshops are being conducted on February 4, 2020 and March 5, 2020 to both review the rules and eligibility requirements and to provide helpful tips to prepare a 3-minute oration and an presentation slide. Registration is required.

3MT Rules for the Pitt and Online Competitions

We are following the 3MT rules suggested by the University of Queensland, which founded the event.  

Noted are a couple variations for the online competition.

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations, or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration. (For the online competition, simply attach a file to your email submission.)
  • No additional electronic media (e.g., sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g., costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum, and competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g., no poems, raps, or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage. (Not relevant for the online competition.)
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Prizes for the University Competition - sponsored by the Office of the Provost, University Library System and Center for Teaching & Learning

First place prize:                 $1,000 travel grant

Two runner-up prizes:        $500 travel grant

People's Choice prize:        $1,000 travel grant

Judging Criteria

Check back to see who our celebrity judges will be—and who will hear our competitors talk about their research.

At every level of the competition each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact, and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • 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 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?

Presentation Resources

To learn more about the competition history, rules, and to gain valuable preparation tips, visit the 3MT Web site.

Preparation Workshop

Pitt Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition: Speaking to Non-specialists Workshops

February 4, 2020, 4–5 p.m.
Alumni Hall 528

March 5, 2020, 12-1 p.m.
B26, Alumni Hall

Come and learn all you need to know in order to compete in the 3rd annual Pitt Three Minute Thesis (3MT), to be held on April 6, 2020. In this workshop, Meghan Culpepper (Office of the Provost) will review the rules and eligibility requirements for the 3MT Competition, and Dr. Joel Brady (Center for Teaching and Learning) will provide students with helpful hints and tips to prepare a three minute oration and an accompanying presentation slide of their research. Registration is required.

Note that participation in the workshop is not required to enter a school or online competition.