Mason doctoral students compete in annual Three-Minute Thesis competition


On March 31, 2023, George Mason University was home to the seventh annual Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference and Three-Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition, hosted by the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA), Graduate Student Life, and the Graduate Division.

winners holding their plaques
From left, Three-Minute Thesis winners Patricia Sinclair, Steven Zhou, Amy Rose, and Doreen Peters. Photo provided

The conference showcased scholarly, research, and creative works from Mason graduate students across disciplines through posters, oral presentations, and creative, visual, and performing arts.

The opening panel “Globalized Society, Complex Issues: The Role of Interdisciplinary Research” set the theme for the daylong conference by discussing the critical role of interdisciplinary research in a globalized society and how to better engage interdisciplinary research due to the need for collaboration in an ever-shrinking world. Eight oral presentation sessions and one poster session followed, with a total of 65 Mason’s graduate students presenting their research.

“Becoming aware and understanding how your research might impact other disciplines is a unique opportunity,” said Emily Crawford, MPP candidate and vice president of Mason Square for GAPSA. “Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference provides students with the chance to share outside their discipline and cultivate networks far beyond the classroom.”

The day culminated in the 3MT® Competition finals, where 10 PhD candidates from the Carter School of Peace and Conflict Resolution, College of Engineering and Computing, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the College of Science competed. This year’s winners are:

  • First Place: Steven Zhou (CHSS): “Measuring Profiles and Patterns of Leadership Behavior”
  • Second Place: Amy Rose (COS): “Hyperspectral Signature Development for Aircraft-Induced Clouds from Aerial and Ground-Based Sensors”
  • Third Place: Doreen Peters (COS): “Using Dragonfly Exuviae as a No-Kill Approach to Monitor Mercury along the Freshwater Potomac River”
  • People’s Choice: Patricia Sinclair (COS), “Energy and Aging: The Estrogen Connection”

“The 3MT competition is an amazing opportunity to hone a unique and valuable skill: translating your research to a general audience in an engaging and informative format,” Zhou said. “I've found that the challenge of condensing a thesis into three minutes tested my understanding of the topic in a unique way that prepares me for bringing research into the public sphere.”

Continuing into its eighth year of competition, Mason’s 3MT joins nearly 1,000 other universities from more than 80 countries; the competition originated at Australia’s University of Queensland in 2008.