Students were given the opportunity to present the content of their senior theses to an audience of fellow students, faculty, staff, and community members on May 4. However, there was a catch: each student only had three minutes to explain their topics and findings to a non-specialist audience.

This year, 21 students participated in the Three-Minute Thesis competition, presenting on topics within government, biochemistry, environmental studies, creative writing, computer science, and many more.

First place winner Austin Ford presented “A Reference Collection of Devonian Mollusca from Greer Road Quarry in Eaton, New York”; Kaitlyn Thayer took second place with “Understanding Perceptions of Climate Change within Central New York's Naturally Adaptive Apple Industry”;  third place winner Michael Wang examined “Inconsistent Incognito Mode: Exploring States' Online Privacy Law Variance in the U.S.”; and Christina Plakas was the People’s Choice winner with “The Revolution Will Not Come with Flowers: What Motivates Some Greeks to Join the High-Risk, High-Cost Anarchist Movement.”

“Our students today are talking about the projects they have undertaken over this year…some of those are very traditional research projects, and some of them are more creative,” said Amy Gaffney, director of the Oral Communication Center (OCC). “The challenge here is to convey to this audience what they have done.”

Using nothing but PowerPoint slides and their finely-honed oral communication skills, students wowed the audience. 

Student presentations focused on a range of subjects, including methods for classifying local fossils, the influence of interest groups in judicial appointments, strategies for climate change communication, and the way genetic programming relates to artificial intelligence development, among many others. Participants were judged by a panel of community members for the main prizes and one audience choice winner was selected as well.

The competition, facilitated by the OCC, is a unique opportunity for Hamilton students. The Three Minute Thesis competition originated from the University of Queensland where Ph.D. students were given the opportunity to distill their dissertations down to their most essential components and present them to a broad audience. Hamilton is one of few undergraduate institutions that hold this competition. 


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