To write a PhD takes a particular kind of drive, but to condense your thesis into a three minute presentation takes a mixture of determination, communication, and competitiveness. Fenner School PhD Scholar Catherine Ross signed up to compete in the 2018 Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT) at ANU, and aside from winning People's Choice and Runner Up in the Science heats, also achieved a position in the competition final, held next Wednesday evening at Llewellyn Hall. Competition is fierce, and Catherine's presentation is imaginative, captivating, and tells a fantastic story of discovery and regeneration.
Catherine's PhD is based at Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary, a fenced reserve on the outskirts of Canberra where we have reintroduced several native animal species that are locally extinct.
'My research is looking at the reintroduction of the eastern bettong, and how their digging could help to restore the ecosystem by turning over the soil and increasing plant diversity.' She says.
In the first year of her PhD, Catherine attended the ANU 3MT final, and was inspired by listening to other students speak about their research in engaging and interesting ways.
'Each year since then I have intended to enter but something else always got in the way (or I just chickened out). This year is my last chance, so I just decided to take the plunge! I am also really passionate about science communication, and the 3MT seemed like a great opportunity to get my research out there.' She explains.
Catherine prepared for the competition by attending all of the training sessions offered by ANU through the Research Training Unit. For future Fenner PhD Scholars considering entering the competition next year, she adds, 'I think the best preparation is to go to the ANU finals and see how other people do it, what works and what doesn’t from the audience point of view.'
'Writing the speech was the easy part for me - I’m much more worried about the performance but we also get a lot of training before the finals, and I hope that will help to overcome some of that fear.'
Supervised by Prof. Adrian Manning, Catherine is in the 4th year of her candidature and is hoping to complete her studies in the coming year. Catherine will be competing against a variety of PhD Scholars from all of the colleges across ANU campus. If you'd like to support Catherine at the 3MT finals, tickets are free, and there is a People's Choice prize nominated by the audience, for the best presentation on the night.
Book your seat in the finals audience by clicking here.