2019 OSU Materials Week: Six grad students take Three Minute Thesis challenge

Posted: May 28, 2019

In science, explaining one’s research thesis to an audience outside your field can be tough. Add the pressure of a ticking clock, and you’ve got a real challenge on your hands.

Photo of six student winners
But six graduate students from The Ohio State University were up for it. Two students from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering earned top honors at the competition.

No props. No elaborate electronic media assistance. Each presenter was allowed just one static slide and exactly three minutes to effectively communicate a distilled, compelling thesis and its significance to the audience at 2019 OSU Materials Week.

This was the third year the Institute for Materials Research held the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, founded and registered by the University of Queensland, in Australia.

OSU Materials Week is an annual conference hosted by IMR to celebrate Ohio State’s materials research community. It provides student and professional researchers a venue to come together and share their latest work.

3MT finalists in fields spanning electrical and computer engineering to Translational Plant Sciences were chosen from a preliminary round to compete May 7 in front of hundreds of professors and researchers from within the university and across the country.

Top prize this year went to Parker Evans, a doctoral candidate in translational plant sciences and mechanical engineering. He presented “Translating between Electronic and Ionic Systems,“ in which he summarized his research adapting electronic control strategies that communicate in utilized electrons to biological processes that are primarily ionic in nature. His advisors are College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Professor Katrina Cornish and mechanical engineering Associate Professor Vishnu Sundaresan.

“This is my first award, here, at Ohio State. It’s one of the bigger accomplishments in my early career, so far,” Evans said. “I now have my elevator pitch down, which is really nice. I think this is a very valuable experience, in that regard.”

Effectively communicating his research to a broader audience is not an especially easy task, he said. But it is an ability he honed with the help of advisors Cornish and Sundaresan.

“It is one of the primary skills that is very important to make sure your science continues into the body of knowledge, into true science. You can talk to your labmates or your research group, and they can understand what you do. But if you can’t communicate it to the people who have the money or want to take it to the next step, then have you really completed your job? Have you really done your job in the first place?

“Communicating in engineering: it is very hard, but it is very important,” Evans said.

The 2019 3MT runner-up was Abhilasha Dehankar, a doctoral student in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering advised by College of Engineering professor Jessica Winter. Dehankar presented “Spatial interaction of inorganic nanoparticles in novel nanoparticle composites.”

Mechanical engineering doctoral student Lalith Rao won the 2019 3MT Spirit Award for his presentation, “Development of High-Energy Cathodes for Li-ion Batteries.” His advisors are assistant professor Jung-Hyun Kim and IMR Director of Innovation Jay Sayre, who also serves as adjunct associate professor in Materials Science and Engineering.

The 2019 3MT finalists:

Saurabh Ailawar, doctoral student in chemical and biomolecular engineering

Daniel Lepkowski, doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering

Pinaki Ranadive, doctoral student in chemical and biomolecular engineering

Original article by Institute for Materials Research.

Category: Graduate