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Copulation and combat and the search for dark matter
Left to right: Eleanor Bath (Finalist), Kathryn Boast (Finalist), Isabel Frost, Richard Millar, Christopher Jeffs, Tom Bartlett, Oana Tifrea-Marciuska, Selcuk Topal

Aggressive fruit flies, how disease makes rainforests diverse, and the search for dark matter are just some of the topics that were covered in the MPLS heat of the 3 Minute Thesis competition, which took place today in the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Eleanor Bath who presented ‘Copulation and Combat’ and Kathryn Boast who presented ‘The Search for Dark Matter’ were proclaimed as the winners. They will join winners from the other divisional heats in the University’s Grand Final on Tuesday 23 June.

3 Minute Thesis is a competition that does what it says on the tin - challenging doctoral students to explain their research in three minutes or less. Given that the average thesis is 80,000 words long, this is no trivial task. To top it off entrants were only allowed one slide and weren’t allowed to use any props.

The MPLS heat saw eight entrants who spoke about the following topics:

  • Preference-based internet searches
  • Diversity in rainforests
  • Clouds and climate change
  • Cosmic nurseries
  • How copulation leads to combat in fruit flies
  • Microbrial resistance to antibiotics
  • Measuring the size of nanoparticles
  • The search for dark matter

The standard of the presentations was very high, so the judging panel had a difficult task. Their task was to assess the presentations based on comprehension, engagement and communication. The panel included Professor David Pyle from Earth Sciences, Professor David Gavaghan ( MPLS Dean of Graduates), Professor Alison Etheridge from Maths and Statistics (an Associate Head of MPLS), Dr Ashleigh Griffin from Zoology and Dr Arzhang Ardavan from Physics.

This is the first time this competition has been held at the University. The winner of the University Grand Final will participate in the national semi-finals, with the chance to go onto the national finals. The overall winner will be awarded £3,000 which must be used for public engagement work.

Congratulations to all the participants, and our fingers are crossed for Eleanor and Kathryn!

Find out more about the competition on Oxford's 3 Minute Thesis website