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Two CALS doctoral students will participate in Three Minute Thesis Competition

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Chanda Jones Littles and Hannah Allen, two University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences graduate students, are finalists for the Three Minute Thesis competition, where they will explain what makes their research compelling in, well, three minutes. The competition starts at 2 p.m. April 7 in the Reitz Union Auditorium.

The competition, developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, challenges graduate students to present their research in 180 seconds to an intelligent, non-specialist audience. The competition helps students develop academic, presentation and research communication skills.

“For one, I think that it’s important for people to communicate with a broad audience about what you do and why it’s important,” said Littles, an interdisciplinary ecology major working toward her doctorate. “This competition is great practice for that. Given the time constraints, it has made me focus more on what really is important in my research and how it’s contributing to the bigger picture of conservation.”

Littles researches coastal ecology and investigates the distribution, movement and abundance of manatees. Her dissertation focuses on how manatees might be responding to decreased submerged vegetation in one of their primary feeding sites during the winter. Littles has always been interested in how we can either restore our coastlines and coastal marine habitats or implement management strategies that can help us stop degrading them.

Allen, a nutritional sciences doctoral student, studies how whole food nutrition therapy can be used to treat complex health issues in people. She is interested in precision medicine by facilitating and providing support to each person who requires nutrition therapy treatment. Allen specifically focuses on how changing the amount and types of food one eats can change whole body metabolism, especially the brain, and result in improved outcomes for children with untreatable epilepsy.

“I think our lab has a good story to tell and I want UF to hear about our research,” Allen said. “I am looking forward to telling that story to the audience in hopes that they understand what we do and why it is important.”

Ten UF finalists were chosen for the Three Minute Thesis competition, based on scores from four preliminary heats. Finalists will present their work to a panel of five judges, who consist of representatives of the local, state and university communities.

Competitors’ scores are based on audience engagement and comprehension, and the students’ communication skills. The judges pick a winner and a runner-up, and the audience votes on who will win the “People’s Choice Award.” The winner wins $500, the runner-up wins $350 and the people’s choice wins $250.

For more information, please contact Emilia Hodge at emhodge@ufl.edu or visit: http://www.graduateschool.ufl.edu/student-life-and-support/3mt-competition.

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By Rachel LaVigna, 352-294-3302, rlavigna@ifas.ufl.edu

Sources: Chanda Jones, cjlittles@ufl.edu

Hannah Allen, hjallen@ufl.edu