You have three minutes to present your thesis… Go!

Three minutes!

That's the amount of time 13 Radford University graduate students had to condense pages and pages of their research theses into a presentation for the 3 Minute Thesis competition, hosted by the university's College of Graduate and Professional Studies on Nov. 12.

Following presentations to a capacity crowd in Heth Hall room 022, two awards were presented: a Judge's Choice award and a People's Choice award.

Emerging as the Judge's Choice winner was Cameron Lephew, who presented from his research on identifying risk factors for injury in adolescent athletes.

"Oh my goodness, this is a blessing," said Lephew, a third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student from Draper. By winning, Lephew receives $1,000 plus travel expenses to compete in the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools competition in New Orleans in March.

Serving as guest judges were RU Board of Visitors Rector Michael Wray, Del. Joseph Yost '06, M.S. '08 and Radford City Council member Richard Harshberger. Judging was based on comprehension and content as well as communication and audience engagement.

Lephew said his presentation came from a capstone project, supervised by Assistant Professor Brent Harper, which he and two other third-year DPT students, Tim Schmidt and Meredith Moore, have been working on for about two years. "We're just bursting out the seams to talk about it," he said.

Their research, Lephew noted, is contained on an expansive document of "about 80-90 pages." Reducing it to three minutes for the competition was a tremendous challenge.

Lephew practiced his presentation for the competition, he said, for about 10 hours with Schmidt and Moore. "They drilled me and made sure I had my content down and made suggestions," he said.


Laura Francis presents her three minute thesis proposal, "Who Mentors the Mentors?"

The People's Choice award was also presented for the competition. Psychology student Michael Feeney of Birmingham, Alabama, received the most votes from the audience for his presentation: "Think Globally, Risk Positively." He will receive $500.

"The competition was a great way to see how people respond to my research," said Feeney, is scheduled to graduate in May with a master's degree in clinical-counseling psychology. Overall, it felt great to have a large turnout by the psychology department and receive that support. I wish the best to Cameron down in the Big Easy. He did a fantastic job."

In addition to the winners, the competitors included:

  • Dan Waidelich, Corporate and Professional Communication, "Denying Darwin: Intelligent Design and Inoculation Theory"
  • Laura Francis, Corporate and Professional Communication, "Who Mentors the Mentors?"
  • Dawn Hakkenberg, Education - Mathematics Education, "Seven Minutes of Terror and Newton's Law of Cooling"
  • Candace Cooper, English, "Helping Basic Writers Succeed in the Academy"
  • Phillip Thomas, Physical Therapy - DPT, "The Functional Movement Screen, Corrective Exercise, and Injury Prevention"
  • Cheryl Johnson, Criminal Justice, "Easy Target: The Effect of Gun Sales on Firearm Related Death"
  • Michael Logan, Criminal Justice, "What Makes the South so Gosh, Darn Violent?"
  • Marjorie Young, Nursing - FNP, "Are You Baby-Friendly?"
  • Alisha Wilson, Criminal Justice, "Emotional Homicide: A Content Analysis of Victimization In Nonfiction Books"
  • Natalie Leonard, Nursing - FNP, DNP, "Connecting Physical and Behavioral Health as One"
  • Danielle Fenimore, Criminal Justice, "Identifying Trauma in Burned Remains"

Dawn Hakkenberg presents her three minute thesis proposal, "Seven Minutes of Terror and Newton's Law of Cooling."

The 3 Minute Thesis is an international competition that originated at The University of Queensland in Australia. Its purpose is to challenge research students to present a compelling oration of their thesis in three minutes. This is the first year RU has hosted the event.

"The event far exceeded my expectations in both participation and attendance, with 13 highly engaging presentations and a crowded audience," said Laura Jacobsen, associate dean of the College of Graduate and Professional Studies. "I am so proud of the significant time and dedication these students put into their graduate research studies, as well as to preparing their presentations for the competition."

Jacobsen said the event provides "an outstanding opportunity for RU to showcase the top quality and potentially transformative work our graduate students do every day alongside RU faculty, bringing new energy to graduate research at the university and continuing to grow the sense of community among our graduate students."

Nov 18, 2014