PhD research investigating the best design for railway geogrid – a plastic grid used to stabilise railway foundation – was the winning topic at UOW’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Grand Final.

Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences research student Chuhao Liu took home the winners prizemoney for his talk titled ‘Find the best jeans for railway foundations’.

“Jeans are the analogy of geogrid. My research aims to find the best design for geogrid, therefore the title of my talk,” Chuhao says.

The 3MT final, held on Thursday 12 July, saw two PhD students from each Faculty battle it out to describe the premise of their thesis in under three minutes, in language and style suitable for a non-specialist audience, with just one powerpoint slide.

The winning presentation and runner-up prize is awarded by a panel of judges, while the people’s choice prize is awarded by popular vote.

Samson Soulsby, from the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts was awarded runner-up, with his presentation on personhood in contemporary monster fiction. He was rapidly called upon by local media following his talk, with an interview on local ABC radio about Friday the 13th.

The People’s Choice was awarded to Jenny Norman, from the Faculty of Social Sciences, for her presentation on ‘Sustained impact of energy dense food advertising on children’s dietary intake’.

Chuhao’s win at 3MT follows success at the Cooperative Research Centre Association’s Australia-wide Early Researchers Showcase Competition in May, where his five minute presentation trumped over five competitors (view Chuhao’s entry submission for this competition here: https://youtu.be/djIhmKt_Elo).

He says this competition gave him advantages in preparing for the 3MT UOW final. “I didn't win 3MT in my faculty, I was voted people's choice. So I wasn’t that confident that I would win, but I knew that I had made as much improvement as I can. I was so excited to hear my name as the winner.”

Supervised by Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna and Associate Professor Cholachat Rujikiatkamjorn, Chuhao is inspired by “engineering thinking’s” ability to solve real problems. He says that as railways are critically important to Australia, his research could make a big difference to the community and also promises opportunities for employment in future.

He says the benefits of entering the 3MT competition were both improving his presentation skills, as well as being able to promote his research to a broader audience. “This three minute version could be very useful when friends ask me what my PhD is about at a BBQ,” he says.

Chuhao will go on to compete at the Asia-Pacific Three Minute Thesis final, to be held at the University of Queensland on Thursday, 27 September – good luck Chuhao!


UOW Three Minute Thesis Grand Finale

  • Winner: Chuhao Liu, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences: Find the best ‘jeans’ for railway foundations
  • Runner Up: Samson Soulsby, Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts: Monster in the Mirror: Personhood in Contemporary Monster Fiction
  • People’s Choice: Jenny Norman, Faculty of Social Sciences: Sustained impact of energy dense food advertising on children's dietary intake

Videos of the winning presentations will be available on UOW Now in coming weeks. Photos are online on the UOW Research facebook account.