CBS grad students win big at 3MT

By Amy H. Carter

Thesis presentation competition tests communication, creativity

Three of the 10 finalists in the University of Georgia’s 13th Annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition were graduate students in the Comparative Biomedical Sciences program of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Breanna Timani and Abarna Murugan made the finals with Jordan Parker, who was named runner-up in the final competition.

3MT is a professional international research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland, Australia. It requires contestants to explain their thesis or dissertation topic and its significance in three minutes or less using only a single static presentation slide. That’s roughly 450 spoken words and one static image to explain a document that takes years to produce, exceeding 75,000 written words and 100 pages.


Parker, a native of Marietta, is researching the movement of stem cells to sites of injury, with the goal of increasing their efficacy as an orthobiological therapy for horses. Her 3MT presentation was titled Stem Cells In: The Journey to Sites of Injury. Because she’s in her first year of research, she presented on the prospectus of her project. The presentation of that to her committee took an hour and a half and contained about 42 slides.

The challenge in distilling that down to three minutes was communicating the potential scientists think stem cells have to promote healing while highlighting the nuance of her research which examines how stem cells travel to injury cites to participate in wound repair. She accomplished that using a sci-fi/comic book theme for her speech and the accompanying single slide.

“I had lots of help editing from my fellow LAMS grad students, which I think was really critical to my success,” Parker says. “I was so honored to be able to represent the CVM’s CBS program in this competition and highlight some of the exciting veterinary research happening at UGA.”


Timani, who hails from Augusta, is a first-year master’s student who began her research last semester. “I currently study Zika virus adaptation to cell types lacking the surface receptors it normally uses for cell entry, as well as Zika adaptation to suboptimal, cooler temperatures,” she says. The title of her 3MT presentation was Zika: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You.

While boiling her research down to a three-minute presentation was difficult, Timani found it more difficult to tailor her presentation to a lay audience. The 3MT competition is staged before the public, so scholars are judged both on their creativity and their ability to explain their research in plain language.

Timani was challenged to choose wording that was easy for the public to understand without misrepresenting her research. “I had a hard time figuring out which details to leave out that wouldn’t be necessary for me to explain the project. It also took me a while to brainstorm what images I was going to use on my slide, because I wanted something that caught people’s attention but was also straightforward.”


Murugan, a third-year year Ph.D. student, graduated with her DVM from Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University in Chennai, India, in 2021. “I ventured here for further studies,” she says.

Her research is centered on the early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease. Her presentation was titled The Road to Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. She says that numerous revisions and rehearsals with friends helped her condense her research to three minutes.

“I owe gratitude to the VETM 8001 – Research Communications course led by Dr. Kaori Sakamoto and Dr. Shannon Hostetter, where I had the opportunity to participate in the 3MT event in Spring 2022. Reflecting on past mistakes and feedback, I embarked on my preparation journey, with unwavering support from my friend Jaya, a master’s student in CBS, who patiently endured countless recitations.”

Support from friends and family back home was also crucial to her success, she says.

“I want to take some time to thank my friends and family from back home for providing a steadfast support system throughout, alongside the invaluable guidance of professors and colleagues, without whom this achievement would not have been possible. Last but not the least, I dedicate this to my Dad, who has constantly believed in me. I miss you, Dad!”

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