UC doctoral student takes 'thesis in three minutes' to Brisbane

02 October 2019

Quick, clear and succinct – just a few things that University of Canterbury (UC) doctoral student Eloise Smith needs to keep in mind as she prepares for this week’s 2019 Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition in Brisbane.


Quick, clear and succinct – just a few things that University of Canterbury (UC) doctoral student Eloise Smith needs to keep in mind as she prepares for this week’s 2019 Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition in Brisbane.

The ‘Three Minute Thesis’ or 3MT, is an annual competition where postgraduate students explain their thesis in three minutes, with just one presentation slide. This is no easy feat considering a university-level thesis can be anywhere up to 80,000 words.

In late July, Smith won the College of Science round of UC’s 3MT competition which saw her progress to, and win, the Research First-sponsored University final in early August.

“I entered 3MT as I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my research with others and also learn about the research that others were doing. I also saw it as a fun way of figuring out a simple way to explain my research to everyone who keeps asking me what my PhD is about. My research area is very complex and 3MT gave me a framework to help organise my ideas,” Smith says.

In her presentation, ‘Weak or What?’ Smith covers her research into swallowing disorders.

Swallowing disorders have the ability to impact a person’s ability to eat and drink safely and can occur as a result of conditions including but not limited to stroke, brain injury and cerebral palsy. 

Smith’s research looks to identify new ways to assess swallowing disorders with a focus on measuring muscle activity. The results of her research may help with more precise diagnoses, leading to more specific treatment options, which she hopes will allow more people affected by a swallowing disorder to eat and drink safely.

The 2019 Asia-Pacific 3MT Competition will bring together 3MT finalists from across New Zealand, Australia, Oceania and Asia.

“Representing UC at an international level is such a great opportunity to share my research and tell people about the work speech therapists and researchers are doing in this area,” she says.

“I’m feeling excited to be heading to Brisbane - I’m sure the quality of the presentations will be high and it will be a tough competition, but I’m ready for it.”

Watch Eloise Smith’s 3MT presentation, ‘Weak or What’, above or here>

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