Neuroscience student wins regional Three Minute Thesis competition

Doctoral candidate Kimberly Smith (right) accepts first place award at regional 3MT competition.

Kimberly Smith, a doctoral candidate in Florida State University’s neuroscience program, won the first place award in the Regional Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition for her presentation on “A Behavioral and Molecular Examination of ‘Umami’ Taste.”

The 3MT competition challenges master’s and doctoral students to convey their research to a non-specialist audience in less than three minutes, a difficult task since many theses and dissertations would normally take hours to present.

The Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) hosted the regional competition March 8 at their annual meeting in New Orleans, La. Smith, who also won the top prize in the FSU Graduate School’s fall competition, faced 25 other graduate students to win the $1,000 regional award.

“I was honored to have the opportunity to represent Florida State University, my home department of psychology, and the neuroscience program,” Smith said. “Being the regional winner, I believe, is a testament to the training and mentorship I have received from my advisor Dr. Alan Spector and from the other neuroscience faculty members.”

Smith presented her research on the taste system in front an audience of nearly 200, as well as a nine-member judging panel. Judging criteria included communication style, comprehension and engagement of the audience.

“Competing with students from other top research universities, it was wonderful to hear her name announced as the winner,” said Nancy Marcus, dean of the Graduate School at Florida State.“The 3MT competition highlights excellence in research, but also the ability of students to communicate the value and importance of their research to a diverse audience.”

The CSGS, an organization of more than 200 graduate schools in 15 states throughout the southern region of the United States, awarded $2,750 worth of prizes including first, second and third place, as well as four People’s Choice awards.