CVM Graduate Students Compete in 3MT Final Competition

Group of Texas A&M Three Minute Thesis Finalists
Texas A&M Three Minute Thesis Finalists

Two graduate students from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) placed as finalists in the unique and fast-paced Texas A&M University Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

This competition, hosted by the Texas A&M Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (OGAPS), challenges students to present their thesis and research discoveries in only three minutes, while also tailoring the content for a non-specialist audience.

Representing the CVM’s Graduate Studies program, Gwendolyn Inocencio and Marcus Orzabal presented their research at the 2019-2020 3MT Final Competition and Reception on Nov. 12 in Rudder Forum.

Inocencio, a master’s student within the Department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences’ (VIBS) Science & Technology Journalism program, was one of four finalists in the 3MT Master’s Division with her presentation “Conflicting Nutrition Headlines.”

Gwendolyn Inocencio
Gwendolyn Inocencio

“Most get their nutritional information from the media, so conflicting headlines (for example, ‘Coffee is good for you’ vs. ‘Coffee is bad for you’) affect nutritional choices, which can have dangerous effects given the high rate of chronic disease in the US and the role nutrition plays in disease,” Inocencio said. “My research asks, ‘Why do we have such conflicting nutrition headlines and what role do journalists play in the process that creates those nutritional headlines?’”

Dr. Barbara Gastel, CVM professor and coordinator of the Science & Technology Journalism Graduate Program, and Dr. Yasha Hartberg, CVM lecturer, supervised the research that Inocencio presented.

She also placed as a finalist in the 2018-2019 3MT competition with her presentation “It’s Not Insanity – It’s Science!”

“Preparing for and competing in the 3MT competition was a highlight for me last semester and this semester,” Inocencio said. “It’s an intense competition because it requires precise wording, succinct explanation, and good communication skills—all in three minutes! I was attracted to this contest because it embodies many of the qualities and skills I learn and practice in my degree program.

“I would highly recommend the contest to anyone who wants to be able to articulate their research concisely, which is actually a civic duty in a tier-1 research university such as TAMU,” she said. “Whether someone makes the finals or not, the process of competing ensures an elevator pitch is produced, which is invaluable. I didn’t care so much about winning the contest, but I believed that as master’s student in science communication, I should at least have skills sufficient to make the finals. That I made the finals twice makes me happy.”

Marcus Orzabal
Marcus Orzabal

Orzabal, a graduate student within the Department of Veterinary Physiology & Pharmacology (VTPP), was one of six finalists in the 3MT Doctoral Division. He worked with Dr. Jayanth Ramadoss, CVM associate professor, to develop his presentation, “Do You Vape?”

“My presentation focused on the developmental outcomes of offspring that have been exposed to e-cig vapors during pregnancy,” Orzabal said. “As vaping has become more popular, there is a need to investigate the effects that these devices have on pregnancy and development.”

Within the Doctoral Division, Orzabal placed as both the People’s Choice Winner and the Runner Up.

“I am extremely grateful for the awards I received at this year’s competition,” Orzabal said. “I had a lot of support from friends, family, and the CVM. My mentor and I put a lot of work into preparation for this event and it was all worth it.

“Working with OGAPS made the entire 3 Minute Thesis competition exciting and seamless,” he said. “They were able to offer excellent advice and were enthusiastic about helping each competitor to succeed. I recommend the 3MT experience to all graduate students who wish to hone their speaking and presentation skills. It’s a great opportunity for everyone!”

The Three Minute Thesis competition was developed by The University of Queensland in 2008 and has since spread to universities all over the world. At Texas A&M, the 3MT is part of the Graduate Resources and Development for Aggies (G.R.A.D. Aggies) program, which offers professional development opportunities for graduate students across the university.