FSU theater student wins 2020 Master’s in Four competition

From measuring groundwater seepage to analyzing trends of perfectionism and studying how the Zika virus alters DNA organization, Florida State University master’s students presented their significant research at the annual FSU Graduate School’s Master’s in Four competition, Tuesday, Feb. 25.

“Master’s in Four was created by the FSU Graduate School in response to faculty who wanted a competition for their master’s students since we were already using the Three Minute Thesis for doctoral students,” said Judy Devine, senior associate dean in the Graduate School. “The purpose is for master’s students to explain their research or creative endeavor to a general audience.”

The challenge of the competition is for students to explain their complex research in four minutes and four slides. This constraint forces students to consolidate their ideas and crystalize their research in a manner that is informative, entertaining and accessible to a general audience.

“The simple idea is to make graduate school fun and challenging,” Devine said.

FSU master’s student Jay Pension from the School of Theatre took home the top prize of $1,000 for his presentation, “Connecting Consumers with the Arts.” His research focused on implementing a marketing approach that would encourage consumers to invest in an experience rather than a product when it comes to the arts.

“Participating in Master’s in Four seemed like a great opportunity to develop some of the things I’ve been working on and be able to explain it in a very brief amount of time to someone who might not understand the typical jargon that goes into a lot of academic programs,” Pension said.

As a theater major, Pension is no stranger to reading lines in front of an audience, but he noted that the experience of presenting his research was much more personal.

“I’m sharing my perspective and my experience about my research, so it’s really different than taking on a role and someone else’s lines and interpreting that myself,” Pension said. “It allowed for greater flexibility, and the word choice that I was able to put into this made it even more personal to me.”

Keri Miller of the English department and Stephanie Gipson from the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences tied for second place. Miller’s presentation studied how authors such as William Faulkner have crafted fictional settings inspired by authentic locations. Gipson’s research focused on evidence that a protein in humans that supports long-term memory increased in response to three-day ultra-endurance racing.

The award for third place resulted in a tie between Lauren Harris from the Department of Psychology and James Ippolito from the Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences. Harris explained how she used virtual reality to study the relationship between sleep deprivation and suicidal behaviors. Ippolito presented his research on how iron supplementation can increase the severity of salmonella infection.

Hyosoon Yim, a sport management major, received the “People’s Choice” award. His research focused on the connection between sports and acculturative stress and depression.

Additional finalists in the competition included:

Amanpreet Brar, Biological Science

Brandon Buck, Biological Science

Kyle Compare, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science

Giltrecia Head, Dance

Daniella Horvath, School of Communication

Moletedi Ntseme, School of Theatre

Jonathan Stern, Educational Psychology and Learning Systems

Meng Tian, School of Communication

Master’s students weren’t the only ones who received awards. Devine was presented with a plaque by Graduate School Dean Mark Riley that honors her dedication and commitment to creating the Master’s in Four competition.

For more information about the FSU Graduate School, visit gradschool.fsu.edu.