UCD ThesisIn3 Competition 2020

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What is ThesisIn3?

All UCD Stage 2 PhD Students were invited to submit an entry and share their research with the UCD community. Research students are challenged to present their research in three minutes, using only one slide, to a non-specialist audience. Entrants must distil their niche subjects and intensive research into bite-sized presentations that will inform and entertain the general public.

What does winning mean?

The winner of ThesisIn3 will go on to represent UCD in the Universitas21 Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®), where they will compete with researchers from all over the globe. The winner will also receive a 250 € One-For-All voucher and the two Runners-Up will each receive a 100€ One-For-All voucher and serve as ambassadors for UCD research, with recordings of their presentations on the Graduate Studies website.

ThesisIn3 2020 Winners

  • Winner 2020 ThesisIn3: Tom Hall
  • Runners Up 2020: Ciara Hayes & George Vathakkattil Joseph


Tom will now go on to represent UCD at the Universitas21 3 Minute Thesis Competition.

Well done to all eight finalists, competition was tough and all entries were worthy finalists. Graduate Studies thanks all for participating and for such interesting, engaging presentations. Videos below.

SU Categories Winners: ThesisIn3 2020

  • Catchiest Title – 'T.B or not T.B, can networks answer the question?' Thomas Hall
  • Best relatable example/Analogy – 'Clamping down on cancer one drug at a time' - Lorna Conway
  • Best image – 'In-Sync: Learning to compute from fireflies' – George Vathakkattil
  • Best at making me care about something that I wasn’t interested in before – 'The drone effect' - Gianluca Fontanesi


2020 UCD ThesisIn3 Winner

Tom Hall from the School of Agriculture and Food Science with 'TB or not TB; Can networks answer the question?'

 2020 Runners-Up

George Vathakkattil Joseph of the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering with 'In-Sync: Learning to compute from fireflies'


Ciara Hayes of the School of Veterinary Medicine with 'Milking It! Growing Irish dairy cows to increase their production potential'


View All Finalists' Videos

2020 Finalists

Finalist Name



Student Union Category Winners

Gianluca Fontanesi

School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering

The drone effect

Best at making me care about something that I wasn’t interested in before

George Vathakkattil Joseph

School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

In-Sync: Learning to compute from fireflies

Best image

Devasanthini Devaraj

School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering

Repurpose the gas networks


Ciara Jessica Hayes 

School of Veterinary Medicine

Milking It! Growing Irish dairy cows to increase their production potential


Lorna Conway

School of Chemistry

Clamping Down on Cancer One Drug at a Time

Best relatable example/Analogy

Lisa Rogers

School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems

Power: an ingredient for success or a recipe for disaster


Tom Hall [Winner]

School of Agriculture and Food Science

TB or not TB; Can networks answer the question?

Catchiest Title

George Merces

School of Medicine

Much a-Glue About Nothing


Judging Panel 2020

A big thank you to our judges:

And to our Student Union panel:

  • Carla Gummerson, UCDSU Graduate Officer
  • Costanza Galanti

Special thanks also go to Philip Smyth, Outreach & Impact Scientist at the UCD School of Science for hosting and assisting all finalists with a video workshop and to our Dean of Graduate Studies, Professor Barbara Dooley, for presenting the prizes and sponsoring the competition. 

The winner of the second annual UCD ThesisIn3 competition (2019) was:

Leanne Durkan from UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics with her talk: ''When Black Holes Collide''. 

 The runners up were:

Darragh McCashin ( UCD School of Psychology):''Integrated computer games and apps to support structured delivery of mindfulness-based CBT for children in primary care''

Emily Stenke (UCD School of Medicine): ''NOX4 and Crohn's- having a (myofibro)blast!''

The winner of the first annual UCD ThesisIn3 competition and U21 3MT 2018 People’s Choice winner was:

Roshaida Abdul Wahab from the Institute of Food & Health with her talk "Food Biomarker: The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth."



The runners up were            

Rob Argent (UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sport Science): 
But Grandmother, What a Nice New Knee You’ve Got!       


Varsha Eswara Murthy (UCD School of Psychology):
"I'm Not Good Enough" - Homelessness, Shame, Self-Stigma and Solutions.                     

View all 2019 3MT Universitas21 entries here.

Read about the Universitas21 Three Minute Thesis Competition here.


1.  Explain why your research needs to be done.

Why is your research important? Why does it need to be carried out now? What are the expected or potential outcomes of your work?

2.  Tell a tale about your research.

The audience will be interested in research, but generally, people love to learn about other people. In explaining to your topic, perhaps include a personal anecdote. What brought you to this topic? What motivates you? What does your Doctoral research mean to you personally?

3.  Use a metaphor.

You may be explaining complex concepts that man very little to those outside your field. To overcome this, think of a real-world example that reflects what you are trying to describe.

4.  Use humour.

This event aims to inform, educate and entertain. Injecting a little humour at the right point in your talk can make your presentation memorable and further engage your audience. 

5.  Create mystery.

Pique interest with the unexpected. Perhaps use an image that is immediately associated with your work, start by telling a seemingly unrelated tale. Provoke a natural curiosity in your audience.



1.  Do not patronise.

Your audience will be non-specialist, but intelligent. Stick to general, clear language that a college-educated individual would understand.

2.  Do not overload your slide.

With a single slide in a short time-frame, simplicity is key. Stick to image over text.

3.  Use jargon.

Discipline-specific terms or concepts will need to be explained, and three minutes does not allow for detailed elaboration.  

ThesisIn3 - Top Tips for your three minute preparation [pdf download]

  1. All entrants must be currently registered full or part-time Doctoral Research students at UCD. Doctoral students of all stages are eligible to enter.
  2. Presentations are strictly limited to three minutes. Any student whose presentation exceeds three minutes duration will be immediately disqualified.
  3. Only one slide is permitted. This single slide cannot have any animation, audio/visual, movement or zoom effects. The full slide on-screen at the outset of the presentation must remain static for the duration of the talk.
  4. No extra audio or visual materials are permitted- images, recordings etc.
  5. No props are permitted – objects, costumes, instruments or equipment.
  6. Presentations are to be spoken word only – no singing, rapping or reciting etc can be included.
  7. The presentation will be deemed to have started when the student begins speaking or makes an initial gesture.
  8. There will be three prizes awarded, one winner and two runners up.
  9. The winner will be put forward as UCD’s entry to the Universitas21 Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®), requiring the winning presentation to be filmed. By taking part in the UCD competition, all entrants will be deemed to have consented to same.
  10. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

ThesisIn3 - Terms and Conditions for Presentations [pdf download]

  1. The winner of UCD ThesisIn3 will be put forward as UCD’s entry to the Universitas21 Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®), requiring the winning presentation to be filmed. By taking part in the UCD competition, all entrants will be deemed to have consented to same.
  2. All terms and conditions for ThesisIn3 presentations remain in place for the presentation being recorded – please see T&C document for full details.
  3. The video must be three minutes in length.
  4. The audio must be continuous over the three minutes, no breaks or edits are permitted.
  5. The video must be filmed from a static position – no zoom, cuts or camera movement in any direction is permitted.
  6. No additional media or audio is permitted in the video -only a recording of the presentation.
  7. Presentations are deemed to have commenced when the student indicates that they are beginning their presentation, whether through movement or beginning to speak.
  8. The decision of the Universitas21 adjudicating panel is final.

ThesisIn3 - Terms and Conditions for the Video Recording of Presentations [pdf download]