Three Minute Thesis Competition

The Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) is an exciting, fast-paced event showcasing the research of graduate students across campus. Each scholar is given three minutes to present their research displayed to the audience and judging panel in a single presentation slide. The competition boasts cash prizes for winners in each category.

You'll be amazed at what these scholars can fit into a three-minute presentation. You don't want to miss this competition!

The deadline to compete has passed for 2021, but check back in January of 2022 for next year's deadline.

Learn more about our competition

  • List of judges for 2021 competition
    1. Staci Emm, Professor and County Educator, Extension
    2. Mridul Gautam, Vice President for Research and Innovation, University of Nevada, Reno
    3. Eloisa Gordon-Mora, Diversity and Inclusion Officer, University of Nevada, Reno
    4. Steven Hayes, Foundation Professor, University of Nevada, Reno
    5. Dr. Mick Hitchcock, 2020 Foundation Chair, University of Nevada, Reno
    6. Dr. Markus Kemmelmeier, Foundation Professor, University of Nevada, Reno
    7. Albert Lee, Associate Professor of Voice; Director of Nevada Chamber Opera, University of Nevada, Reno
    8. Brian Sandoval, President, University of Nevada, Reno
    9. Hillary Schieve, Mayor of the City of Reno
    10. Rob Stachlewitz, Corporate Vice President, Science and Strategy, Global Lab Sciences at Charles River Laboratories
  • Competition rules and terms


    1. A single, static PowerPoint slide in 16x9 format is required (pdfs not allowed).
    2. Include your presentation title, full name, and graduate program on the slide.
    3. First-place winners from the last year's 3MT competition are ineligible to compete, however last year's second- and third-place winners are eligible to compete.
    4. No slide transitions, animations or on-screen movement of any description are allowed.
    5. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
    6. No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
    7. No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
    8. Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum; competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
    9. Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
    10. Presentations are to commence from the stage.
    11. Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
    12. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
    13. All monetary awards for both preliminary and final rounds are pre-tax amounts.


    1. Abstracts are limited to 250 words.


    1. Students must be graduate students to enter the competition.
    2. While advancement to candidacy is not required, students must have made significant progress towards completion of their dissertation, thesis, or professional project in order to enter the competition.
    3. Winners will be announced approximately one week after the competition.
    4. You will be asked to sign a photo-video release at the event to allow the University of Nevada, Reno to use your likeness in photos/videos of the competition.
    5. The deadline for competition registration is March 15, 2020 at 11:59pm.
  • Judging criteria

    Comprehension & Content

    • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
    • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
    • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
    • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
    • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
    • 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 & 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?
  • View past Three Minute Thesis winners

    View the winners of each year since 2014!

    View past winners

2020-2021 Finalists and winners

Doctoral category


FIRST PLACE: Elizabeth Preston
  • Graduate Program: Rhetoric and Composition
  • Title:  Humor Me: Using Humor Writing to Teach FYC Students Rhetoric and Composition
  • Faculty Advisors: Drs. William Macauley, Jr., Maureen McBride, Michael Branch and Chris Earle
SECOND PLACE: Katie Snider
  • Graduate Program: Interdisciplinary Social Psychology
  • Title: Coping with their Child's Incarceration: The Experiences of Parents in the Juvenile Justice System
  • Faculty Advisor: Shawn Marsh
THIRD PLACE: Beatrice Gordon
  • Graduate Program: Graduate Program of Hydrologic Sciences
  • Title: A Socio-Hydrologic Assessment of Agricultural Vulnerability to Changing Snowmelt-Driven Streamflow
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Adrian Harpold


Brendan Johnston
  • Graduate Program: English
  • Title:  Epic Materialism: Matter, Culture, and Place in the Modernist Long Poem
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ann Keniston
Mohammad Sadrian
  • Graduate Program: Geological Sciences and Engineering
  • Title: Sometimes it's the Little Things that Count most: Mineral Dust, a Driver of the Earth Climate
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Wendy Calvin
Priyamvada Sharma
  • Graduate Program: Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Title: What Goes Around Comes Around: Drugs in our Food?
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Hanigan
Asif Siddiqui
  • Graduate Program: Political Science
  • Title:  The Fraying American Social Contract: The Politics and Budgeting of the Global War on Terror
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Susanne Martin

Patricia Berninsone People's Choice Award

Anjana Parandhaman
  • Graduate Program: Ecology Evolution and Conservation Biology
  • Title: Slow and Steady Wins the Race?
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Kenneth Nussear

Master's category


FIRST PLACE: Sarah Shapley
  • Graduate Program: Geology
  • Title: Fluid Inclusions and the Origin of Carlin-Style Deposits
  • Faculty Advisor:  Dr. John Muntean
SECOND PLACE: Samuel Cartwright
  • Graduate Program: Geological Sciences & Engineering
  • Title: Reading the Icy Pages of Mars Climate History
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Wendy Calvin
THIRD PLACE: Alexis Tudor
  • Graduate Program: Computer Science & Engineering
  • Title: Tick Marks on the Intergalactic Wall: Measuring the Flux of Stars
  • Faculty Advisors: Drs. Sergiu Dascalu and Richard Plotkin


Timothy Hannon
  • Graduate Program: Judicial Studies
  • Title: Asteroid Mining and the future of Space Law
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Tanenhaus 
Haden Kingrey
  • Graduate Program: Anthropology
  • Title: Protein Residue and Starch Grain Analysis of Early Holocene Groundstone from the Northern Great Basin
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Geoffrey Smith
Brittany McAllister
  • Graduate Program: Philosophy
  • Title: Relational Autonomy
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Christopher Williams
Nazli Mohammad
  • Graduate Program: Business
  • Title: The Power of Trust
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Yvonne Stedham
Erin Smith
  • Graduate Program: Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Sciences
  • Title: Growing Sorghum in Nevada: Using Modern Technology to Study an Ancient Grain
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Robert Washington-Allen

Undergraduate honor's thesis category (non-competetive)


Lily Liu
  • Major: Biology
  • Title: YPEL3: Important for Synaptic Development?
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jung Hwan Kim
Moriah Martinez
  • Major: Integrated Elementary Education
  • Title: Students’ Eyewitness Accounts of Nazi Governed Schools
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. John Marini