Graduate students explain their theses in three minutes

Imagine taking your 80,000-word thesis—two years’ worth of research and hard work—and presenting it in just three minutes. That’s the challenge several TWU graduate students took up Wednesday, April 16, as the University’s School of Graduate Studies hosted its first-ever Three Minute Thesis competition.

Originally developed by the University of Queensland in Australia, the Three Minute Thesis research communication competition challenges participants to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Kicking off the TWU event, three professors—Eve Stringham, Ph.D., Rick Bradshaw, Ph.D., and Bill Acton, Ph.D.—presented their own research in the allotted time. But TWU’s graduate students were really the stars of the night, presenting on topics ranging from “In Hospital Stroke Response” to “Psalms Variants and the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

Participants from different disciplines, ranging from Counselling Psychology to Biblical Studies to Nursing, went head to head for the opportunity to represent TWU at the regional competition in Calgary on May 2.

Master of Science in Nursing student Greg Eklund won the competition with his presentation, “In Hospital Stroke Response.” “I suspect that when people come to a hospital, they expect the care they receive to be the same, regardless of the location they are at in hospital. This is simply not the case,” said Eklund, whose research examined the response time between patients who experience stroke while in hospital versus those who were brought into emergency rooms with stroke.

As part of his research, Eklund and committee of experts, managers, front-line nurses and physicians began collecting data on whether an in-house response program based out of an emergency department provide equitable assessment and treatment for in-hospital patients. “Our preliminary data is compelling,” he said. “We compared our times from CT scans to neurological assessments and treatment to national benchmarks. In all subjects we enrolled, we consistently exceeded national benchmarks. I hope this research can serve to improve the outcome for all stroke patients.”

For his efforts, Eklund won $500, plus airfare and accommodation to the regional competition in Calgary.

Second-place winner Sandeep Bhandal, a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology student who presented “Strengthening Attachment: Working One Generation Up,” earned $250. Bhandal’s research interests centre around the 36 to 44 per cent of adults who feel “insecurely attached” in their relationships. “Attachment is defined as the emotional bond between the caregiver and the infant,” she said. “A lot of times when we work with families, we focus on the child. But we forget about the family system as a whole.”

The Audience Favourite was Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Humanities student Richard Bergen, who spoke on “Reforming Allegory in the Pilgrim’s Progress.”

The first-ever Canadian national Anglophone Three Minute Thesis competition, which will be hosted by the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies in May, will be a virtual event.

Maple Ridge-Mission MLA the Honourable Marc Dalton, reporter and Fraser Valley Bureau Chief for CTV news Vancouver Michele Brunoro, and Vice Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal Mike Redmond, LLB, had judging honours. “Interesting and knowledgeable presentations!” Dalton tweeted after the event.

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