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Graduate student competes at regional Three-Minute Thesis Competition

An NDSU graduate student studying cancer treatment presented at the Western Association of Graduate Schools Conference Three Minute Thesis Competition March 22 in Seattle.

Tayebeh Anajafi Marzijarani, a doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences, presented "Targeted Drug Delivery in Pancreatic Cancer.”

Marzijarani was the winner of NDSU’s third annual Three-Minute Thesis competition, which was sponsored by Sanford Health. Her task was to explain her complex scientific research to a general audience in three minutes or less.

Marzijarani’s research examines chemotherapy delivery systems, looking for ways to target the treatment on cancer cells without being toxic to healthy cells.

“This represents four years of my research, and presenting all those years of work in just three minutes is really hard,” said Marzijarani, whose faculty adviser is Sanku Mallik, professor of pharmaceutical sciences. “But, this is really good practice, because it’s important to understand how to talk to people who are not from my major. There are different audiences, different backgrounds, and we should be able to explain scientific research in layman’s words so everyone can understand it.”

Her career goal is to work in a research laboratory at either a pharmaceutical company or university. “It doesn’t matter where I am or what country I am in, I would do my best to help improve human health,” she said.

Eight students competed in the regional Three-Minute Thesis competition, which involves graduate students from a variety of disciplines. Their objective was to quickly explain the objective and value of their groundbreaking research in terms relevant to government officials, media, future employers and funding organizations. A dissertation or thesis would typically take all day to present, but the competitors are given just 180 seconds to showcase their work.

“We have an impressive array of student research conducted at NDSU that fulfills our land-grant mission and positively impacts our state and nation,” said Brandy Randall, associate dean of the College of Graduate and Interdisciplinary Studies. “In addition, employers want new hires to communicate well, and this competition helps prepare students for the workplace by demonstrating that they can clearly present complicated ideas in a way that is both brief and interesting.”

Randall serves as member-at-large on the Western Association of Graduate Schools board, and was involved in the planning of the conference.

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 350 universities in 27 countries now hold competitions.

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