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Graduate student researcher wins NDSU’s Three Minute Thesis Competition

Published February 12, 2016

Manpreet Bains, a graduate student in molecular pathogenesis, delivered the top presentation at NDSU's second Three Minute Thesis Competition, hosted Feb. 10, by the NDSU Graduate School.

His task was to explain his complex scientific research to a general audience in three minutes or less.

Bains, who grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, presented "Modulatory Effects of Neural Proteins on Your Microbiome." In his presentation, he described the connection between the each person’s bacterial communities and nervous system, which is linked to overall health and well-being.

"Winning the competition means that I can share my research with a greater population and show people the diversity of research that occurs at NDSU. It provided me the opportunity to get people excited about the research that’s taking place here," said Bains, whose faculty adviser is Glenn Dorsam, associate professor of veterinary and microbiological sciences. "I want to thank the faculty, staff and students in NDSU's Department of Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences. Their support has been essential in my success."

NDSU students have many opportunities to develop skills for their future careers. The Graduate School recently hosted a competition that challenges graduate students to clearly and concisely communicate their research to a general audience.

Local and state civic and business leaders, along with NDSU students and faculty, judged the competition. They selected Bains’ presentation from a group of six finalists that also included:

• Courage Mudzongo, developmental science, "Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health: Lessons From an Urban Adolescent Population"
• Prajakta Kulkarni, pharmaceutical sciences, "Improved Treatment for Pancreatic Cancer"
• Renee Bourdeaux, communication, "Relational Maintenance Strategies, Positivity, and Constructive Financial Conversation in Romantic, Committed Partnerships"
• Sajid Asif, electrical engineering, "A Batteryless and Leadless Pacemaker"
• Lauren Dennhardt, botany, "How Do Species Invade? The Mechanism of Kentucky Bluegrass Invasion in the Dakotas"

Each of the finalists earned $250 for advancing from the competition’s initial rounds. Bains earned $1,000 for placing first.

He was impressed by the scope and quality of the research by his fellow competitors. "When I walked through the presentations of this competition, I had no idea about the variety of research going on at NDSU. It still shocks me that in every part of campus you can find someone studying something completely different, something you'd never expect," Bains said, noting his future career goal is to continue conducting research in either academia or industry.

The competition began with 34 graduate students from a variety of disciplines competing in early rounds. Their objective was to quickly explain the objective and value of their research in terms relevant to government officials, media, future employers and funding organizations. An 80,000-word thesis would take nine hours to present, but the competitors are given just 180 seconds to showcase their work.

"This is a chance for anybody to hear in a really digestible, sound bite-ish way about the breadth of the work that is done at NDSU," explained Brandy Randall, associate dean of the College of Graduate and Interdisciplinary Studies. "One of the things really exciting about the championship round was that we had six different colleges represented and the audience could see the variety of work done here."

Australia's University of Queensland developed the first Three Minute Thesis competition in 2008, and the concept has spread to institutions around the world. More than 170 universities in 18 countries now hold competitions.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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Last Updated: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 10:04:27 AM
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