Graduate students find success at Three Minute Thesis competition, Capitol Research Summit

K-State Alumni Communications

Pictured are the winners of the Three Minute Thesis competition: Ryan Schmid, Bondy Kaye ’14 and Jere Noel ’13. (Photo: K-State Communications and Marketing)

The average thesis can take nine hours to present. Ryan Schmid had only three minutes. 

The Kansas State University doctoral student in entomology participated in the Three Minute Thesis competition on campus in February. Standing before an audience and a panel of judges, he had only a few minutes to summarize his research on LED traps for Hessian flies, which are a significant pest for wheat crops. The judges were impressed with Schmid’s work — and his concise summary — and he walked away with a first-place $500 scholarship and a chance to compete at a regional Three Minute Thesis competition in Chicago. 

“The competition was a lot of fun,” he said. “It helped me distill down my research to a few important points that could easily be followed by the audience, and it helped me to focus how my research fit into the grander scheme of things.”

Hosted by the Graduate School, the inaugural K-State Three Minute Thesis competition challenged graduate students to present a compelling oration on their thesis/dissertation topic and its significance in just three minutes using only one PowerPoint slide and terminology easily understood by the general public. 

In addition to Schmid’s top prize, Bondy Kaye ’14, master’s student in mass communications, received a second-place $250 scholarship for his presentation on the changing rules of the music recording industry. Jere Noel ’13, a master’s student in animal science, received a people’s choice award and $125 scholarship for her presentation on measuring muscle fatigue in pigs during transport. 

“Sharpening public speaking skills is always useful, but 3MT especially was a great exercise in condensing complicated ideas and communicating them in a meaningful way,” Kaye said. “These skills will be a tremendous help in convincing future employers I actually know what I'm talking about and not just throwing terms and ideas at them with no grounding in reality.”

The students thanked the faculty members who had mentored them, and they said their time at K-State will help them to succeed in their careers. 

Marcus Olatoye, a doctoral student in agronomy, with his award-wining poster at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka. Olatoye received a $500 scholarship from BioKansas for his poster presentation. See below in Wildcats in Topeka for more information. (Photo: K-State Communications and Marketing)
“Kansas State has helped me achieve my educational and career goals by providing support, knowledge and resources,” Noel said. “Everything from my classwork to hands-on laboratory experiences has advanced my knowledge and skills that will prepare me for my future career.”

The competition also provided an opportunity for several alumni to return to campus to serve as judges. Ashley Martin ’07, ’14, director of marketing for the Division of Communications and Marketing at K-State, and Mary Vanier ’89, president of Grand Mere Development, said they enjoyed hearing about the discoveries made by graduate students and seeing their passion for their work. 

“The students were so enthusiastic and sharp,” Vanier said. “As an alumna, it’s fun to have the opportunity to interact with students in this way and witness firsthand the great research and impressive young people coming out of K-State.”

Martin encouraged other alumni to participate in programs like the Three Minute Thesis competition, which supports graduate student research.

“Volunteering for events/activities on campus — like the 3MT competition — is a great way to stay engaged with the heart of our campus and keep your connection to all aspects of K-State strong,” she said.

 Wildcats in Topeka

International students visit the Kansas State Capitol during Kansas State University’s annual 'Cats in the Capitol event Feb. 17. The students are attending high schools in the Kansas City, Missouri, area and have received American Field Service awards based on academics, leadership, public service and interest in government. From left to right: Liana Karapetyan, Armenia; Olha Ter-Vartanova, Ukraine; Reem Halaby, Egypt; Mohammed Abumuaileq, Gaza (Palestine); Erlend Brunes, Denmark; Elna Ciesielski, Germany; and Estu Pawestri, Indonesia. (Photo: Linda Cook ’77)

K-State graduate students also have been sharing their research with legislators at the State Capitol in Topeka, as part the 13th Capitol Graduate Research Summit on Feb. 2. The Capitol Graduate Research Summit is a statewide event that features the research of graduate students at K-State and other universities from across Kansas.

Each university invites a university professor and an industry representative to judge the student poster presentations. The top presenters from each university receive awards. 

Matthew Galliart ’14, master's student in biology, Hutchinson, Kansas, and Caroline Ylioja, doctoral student in animal sciences, Canada, were the two K-State winners and received $500 scholarships from the university's Graduate School.

Marcus Olatoye, doctoral student in agronomy, Nigeria, was the K-State winner of the $500 BioKansas scholarship. 

K-State also keeps legislators connected to the university by hosting the annual 'Cats in the Capitol event, which took place this year on Feb. 17. University representatives serve Call Hall ice cream to legislators and staff and provide information about the university. 

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