The next wave of research stars in the limelight

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

With thousands of hours of research condensed into just three minutes, 15 bright and determined postgraduate students will take the stage at The Conservatorium on Friday (23 August) to compete in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Three Minute Thesis contestant
Alix Woolard holding an old photo of her brothers (L-R) Brock and Jorden.

From the impact of antidepressants on our bones, to addressing negative biases against girls in sport, 3MT will publicly showcase the innovative research being carried out by some of the University of Newcastle’s rising stars.

Contestants must present their research in three minutes, using only one PowerPoint slide.

“Students must explain what they are doing; how they are doing it; and why they are doing it,” the University’s Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Professor Deborah Hodgson, said.

The competition features three finalists from each of the University’s five faculties.

“3MT is always a really important and exciting evening for us,” Professor Hodgson said. “It’s a first chance for some of our brightest minds to share their research with the world.

“For our University, it’s also a real demonstration of the breadth of promising work being carried out by our Higher Degree by Research candidates, who are helping to pave the future of research and solve real-world problems. It fills us with a huge sense of pride.”

Looking at the psychology behind baby talk, Alix Woolard is among the finalists who will showcase her research at the 3MT competition on Friday.

With a focus on how parents communicate with babies who show early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Alix said having two younger brothers with Autism meant her personal experience inspired her research.

“My family were lucky enough to get a diagnosis really early, and both of my brothers received early intervention. I could see the enormous difference this made in their behaviour and social skills, as well as their intellectual and language development,” Alix said.

“I hope that my research can help other families in the way that previous research and intervention programs helped mine.”

Overcoming her fear of public speaking, Alix said she’s nervous at the prospect of presenting, but the process has opened her eyes to the wider implications of her research.

“It has helped me to better understand and articulate why my research is important, and why the community should care about it.”

The University, along with event sponsor UniBank, is investing more than $8,000 in research grants as prize money to support the winners to continue their important work.

Professor Hodgson said the investment will help the University attract and retain the brightest and best minds.

“Our students are working on problems and trying to find ways to change the world for good, and we want to do whatever we can to enable them to do so,” she said.

“Our support of initiatives such as the 3MT competition, and the significant investment we make in higher degree research scholarships, helps our researchers to launch their academic careers and means we can retain top talent within our region.”

The winner of the competition will receive $5,000 towards research costs and will go on to represent the University of Newcastle at the Asia-Pacific final in Brisbane In October.

The judging panel, consisting of three notable Newcastle figures to be revealed on the night, will also award $2,000 and $1,000 to second and third place respectively. The People’s Choice Award will be determined by the audience.

The community are invited to attend the competition on Friday 23 August from 4-6pm, at The Conservatorium. Tickets are free but registration is essential via Eventbrite.


Study area

Presentation title

Korinne Nicolas

PhD (Psychology – Science)

Keep your blood vessel clean and your brain keen

Bronwyn Greive

PhD (Natural History Illustration)

A local love affair

Jefferson Arapoc

PhD (Economics)

Impacts of wealth distribution systems on individual trust

Barbara Jardim Do Nascimento

PhD (Civil Engineering)

Faster than earthquakes

Antoni Fellas

PhD (Podiatry)

Podiatric intervention in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Robert Scanlon

PhD (Environmental Science)

Restoring an ecosystem – quickly!

Emma Pollock

PhD (Education)

Addressing negative biases against girls in sport

Mohammed Abdullah Al Mamun

PhD (Accounting and Finance)

Director interlocking and firm performance: what matters?

Natã Franco

PhD (Electrical Engineering)

The Jedi Microscope

Jia Ming (Jasmine) Lee

PhD (Medical Biochemistry)

Mapping the neuroinflammatory changes in Chlamydia reproductive tract infection

Alix Woolard

PhD (Psychology – Science)

Beyond baby talk: understanding the importance of infant-directed speech

Maria Murphy

PhD (Education)

Teachers on the move!

Samuel Berhanu Woldemariam

PhD (Law)

Forced human displacement, the State and International Law: a critical look from the South

Ashlea Rendell

PhD (Information Systems)

Nature and technology: can they co-exist?

Abhijit Chowdhury

PhD (Clinical Epidemiology

Does your mood affect your bones?

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.