The 10 UOW PhD candidates selected as 2021 UOW Three Minute Thesis finalists

Three minutes to showcase ground-breaking research

Three minutes to showcase ground-breaking research

UOW PhD candidates to compete during virtual event

An 80,000 word thesis would take hours to present, yet 10 inspiring University of Wollongong (UOW) PhD candidates will have just three minutes to communicate the importance of their research using language appropriate to a non-specialist audience at the UOW 2021 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Final.

The community is being invited to join the UOW 3MT Final online on Wednesday, 25 August, from 3.30pm, to support the PhD candidates as they share their research through engaging three-minute presentations, with the assistance of only one PowerPoint slide.

This year, the 3MT final will feature two PhD researchers from each faculty, and two from the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM), showcasing their innovative research solutions to some wicked problems. PhD research topics to be presented span solutions for storing renewable energy and water, to using magnets to ‘cook cancer’, gender equality in the workplace, to tools for mindful parenting, to uncovering new and more effective ways to treat depression and strep throat.

Originally developed by the University of Queensland (UQ), 3MT cultivates candidates’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. Prizes will be awarded for the winner, and during the competition the audience will be able to help decide the most convincing presentation by voting for the Peoples’ Choice Award.

The competition, now in its 12th year, will also introduce a new award, the Community Award, to be judged by a separate judging panel, to be awarded to the finalist whose research highlights significant community and research impact.

The UOW Graduate Research School will host the virtual event, with the Dean of Graduate Research, Professor Clive Baldock as the event MC. Professor Baldock said he is excited about the calibre of this year’s finalists and believes the community will be amazed at the research topics being articulated in three minutes or less.

“This competition is a fantastic and engaging way for UOW staff and students and the wider community to learn about the important and ground-breaking research being undertaken by our excellent UOW PhD candidates,” Professor Baldock said.

“Research communication has never been more important in society than at the current time and we hope the finalists take these skills and are able to share their research far and wide. We are incredibly proud of our PhD candidates from each of our faculties and institutes represented.”

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson will participate as a judge at the final and said the competition offers the opportunity to celebrate UOW’s incredible PhD candidates and their research endeavours.

“The Three Minute Thesis final is a celebration of the critical thinking and cutting-edge innovation of the researchers at UOW,” Professor Davidson said.

“Congratulations to all the finalists, I am thrilled to be a part of the event and look forward to witnessing the scope of incredible research ideas presented.”  

The line-up of judges that will help decide this year’s winners include University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor Professor Patricia M. Davidson, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Joe Chicharo OM, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Jennifer L Martin AC, and UOW’s Executive Director (Indigenous Strategy) Jaymee Beveridge.

Along with industry experts from the community including veteran science journalist, broadcaster and host of ABC Radio National’s The Science Show, Robyn Williams, Chairperson of the Northern Sydney Local Health District Board, Mr Trevor Danos AM, and Chief Executive Officer at Healthy Cities Illawarra, Kelly Andrews.

The winner of the UOW 3MT competition will be invited to represent UOW and attend the 2021 Virtual Asia-Pacific 3MT competition, hosted by The University of Queensland on Wednesday, 20 October.

The 2021 UOW 3MT finalists and their topics:

  • Makrita Solitei, Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, “Grassroots innovation: Towards a waste circular economy for Kenya’s resource constrained communities”
  • Mark Donovan, Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, “Mindful parenting”
  • Aaron Hodges, Australian Institute for Innovative Materials, “Development of a highly efficient water electrolyser”
  • Sujani Abeywardena, Australian Institute for Innovative Materials, “Analysing cell metabolites using a polyester thread”
  • Nilupulee Liyanagamage, Faculty of Business and Law, “Understanding Machiavellianism”
  • Kanchana Wijayawardena, Faculty of Business and Law, “Bringing care into workplace: an essential approach to nurture gender inclusion in the construction industry”
  • Samara Brown, Faculty of Science, Medicine, and Health, “Is the human brain the answer to the subtypes of depression?”
  • Anuk Indraratna, Faculty of Science, Medicine, and Health, “Strep A: A not so sweet infection”
  • Usman Khalil, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, “Too little, too much, too dirty: water crisis to sustainable water storage”
  • Alice O’Keefe, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, “Cooking cancer with magnets”

To register to attend the UOW 2021 Three Minute Thesis Final, please visit:


Picture: The 2021 UOW 3MT finalists. First row: Sujani Abeywardena, Samara Brown, Mark Donovan. Second row: Aaron Hodges, Anuk Indraratna, Usman Khalil. Third row: Nelly Liyanagamage, Alice O’Keefe, Kanchana Wijayawardena, Makrita Solitei.