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Source: Massey University

3MT contestant at the Manawatū heat, Lily Jia, presenting her research on how mothers can produce more breast milk.

Milky matters, gut function and cancer prevention are popular themes among this year’s Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) campus heat winners. Four masters and 11 doctoral researchers will compete at next week’s finals on the Manawatū campus.

Across heats held at all three campuses, the 15 finalists wowed judges with their presentation skills for the international competition, which requires academics to deliver a succinct “elevator pitch” summing up their research topic for a non-specialist audience.

Organiser Dr Julia Rayner, Graduate Learning and Development Facilitator, Graduate Research School, Research and Enterprise, says she hopes for a great turn-out next week from Massey students, staff and the general public who want to support the contestants and be entertained and informed by riveting presentations about the latest cutting-edge research. 

Science topics dominated the heat winners, with diverse research on human and animal health and welfare – from the plight of zebra fish used in research to the emotional wellbeing of responders in animal rescues. Understanding gut health and preventing colon cancer, building better diets in small Pacific Island nations and how breast-feeding mothers can produce more milk featured in human-focused research topics. Other health research topics include the role of iron, and the link between sleep in pregnancy and post-natal depression.

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3MT experience hones public speaking skills

Now in its 11th year across New Zealand universities, the competition is a great opportunity for students to clarify their thinking around their research, develop public speaking skills and the confidence this brings, as well as experiencing the satisfaction of sharing their knowledge with a wider audience, Dr Rayner says.

“The 3MT experience can also help raise the profile of the researcher, forge new academic connections and opportunities and looks good on a curriculum vitae,” says Dr Rayner. “What’s more, it’s a lot of fun and there are some generous cash prizes, with the winner of the Massey doctoral final in the running for $5000 and the chance to compete in the international competition in Brisbane in October,” she says. 



Kimberley Lim – Ironing out the issues with iron (School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition)

Sam Powick – Towards emissions-free hydrogen: Cracking methane with black sand (School of Fundamental Sciences)

Morgan Heslop – The cellular scar of stress (School of Veterinary Science)

Steve De Grey – Rescuing the responders: factors affecting the recovery of the human animals involved in animal rescue (School of Veterinary Science)


Clare Ladyman – Is sleep the black box to pregnancy and post-natal depression (Sleep/Wake Research Centre)

Chris Vogliano – Building better diets from the ground up in Pacific Small Island Developing States

(School of Food and Advanced Technology)

Susanne Gottfried – How a breakup can kill cancer (School of Natural and Computational Sciences)

Nikki Renall – Understanding the garden in your gut (School or Sport, Exercise and Nutrition)

Lily Jia – Galactagogues: making more milk (School of Food and Advanced Technology)

Murali Kumar – Cracking the Enigma – spores succumb to phosphate (School of Food and Advanced Technology)

Gina Sopha – The Tale of Shallot (School of Agriculture and Environment)

Debashree Roy – Milks, Curdling and Digestion (School of Food and Advanced Technology)

Paul Ogbuigwe – Protozoan genotypic diversity in humans: epidemiology of cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis (School of Veterinary Science)

Natasha Nayak – Deconstructing food in the gut: Looking beyond the label (School of Food & Advanced Technology)

Du Le Hoang – Colorectal cancer: Prevention (School of Food and Advanced Technology)

The Massey University finals will be held on Wednesday, August 14, in the Japan Lecture Theatre, Manawatū campus, from 5pm – 8pm. For catering purposes, please register here.

MIL OSI New Zealand News