Three Minute Thesis (3MTTM) Competition 2012 of HKU

“I often told my friends that I filmed ‘Category III’ movies of snails in the laboratory, which made them laugh, but then they would ask me about the contributions of this work to science or society. I knew I was working on an interesting and important subject, but I couldn't find a good way to explain this and hence having a well prepared '3-minute' thesis description in 'your pocket' would be useful,” says Terence Ng, Champion and recipient of People's Choice Award of the HKU 3MT 2012.

“Gains from the Competition are not merely a conference travel grant, but also a legacy of something unexpected. I am now surprisingly delighted when sometimes a friend or even an unacquainted person starts to chat with me about my performance in the Competition,” says Kelvin Zhu, 1st runner-up.

“Not only did I enjoy myself and have fun presenting, but I was also amused by watching others present their research in various humorous and entertaining styles. I definitely will recommend this competition to fellow RPg students, especially those want to improve their presentation skills,” says Ricky Tso, 2nd runner-up.

“Before the competition, I used to use professional jargons without noticing they are ‘professional’.If I hadn’t participated in this competition, I would never have realized that I had difficulty in describing my research project in layman’s language.” says Cherry Zhang, recipient of Online People's Choice Award.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MTTM) Competition of HKU was successfully held on May 29, 2012.  This year 28 research postgraduate (RPg) students participated in the Competition, and 12 finalists were shortlisted to compete for 3 prizes decided by the adjudicating panel and the People’s Choice Award decided by audience ballot. A new award, namely the Online People’s Choice Award, has been introduced this year to promote the 3MT concept to young researchers and the public. The finalist with the most ‘LIKE’ votes on YouTube would receive this award. 

The HKU 3MT champion will have the chance to represent HKU at the Trans-Tasman 3MT Competition hosted by The University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane on October 11, 2012.

Developed by UQ, Australia, 3MT is an academic competition that challenges RPg students to explain their research within 3 minutes to a general audience.  3MT celebrates the discoveries made by RPg students and encourages them to develop the skills to communicate the importance of their research to the broader community.

We were honoured to have Dr York Liao and Mr Kai-man Wong, HKU Council Members, serving on the adjudicating panel as external members.  Internal members of the adjudicating panel included Professor John Bacon-Shone, Associate Director of the Knowledge Exchange Office (KEO), and Professor Paul Cheung, Director of the Technology Transfer Office, who served as co-chairmen, and Professor Ying Chan, Director of Journalism and Media Studies Centre (JMSC), Professor Nirmala Rao, Associate Dean of the Graduate School, and Professor Ben Young, Assistant Dean of the Graduate School.

Congratulations to all the winners of the HKU 3MT Competition 2012. They are:


Champion (awarded research travel support or book prize of HK$7,000); and
People’s Choice Award Winner (awarded research travel support or book prize of HK$3,000)

Name: Mr Pun Tung NG
Degree Registered: PhD
Faculty: Science
Title of Presentation: Sexual Selection in Snails
Primary Supervisor: Prof. Gray A. Williams


1st Runner-up (awarded research travel support or book prize of HK$5,000)

Name: Mr Wenkai ZHU
Degree Registered: PhD
Faculty: Engineering
Title of Presentation: Performance Optimisation of Mobile Robots
Primary Supervisor: Dr S. H. Choi


2nd Runner-up (awarded research travel support or book prize of HK$3,000)

Name: Mr Ricky Van Yip TSO
Degree Registered: MPhil
Faculty: Social Sciences
Title of Presentation: Writing Experience Changes Our Visual Perception: The Case of Chinese Character Recognition
Primary Supervisor: Dr Janet Hsiao


Online People’s Choice Award Winner (awarded book voucher of USD100)

Name: Ms Yingying ZHANG
Degree Registered: PhD
Faculty: Medicine
Title of Presentation: Functional Ion Channels in Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Cardiac Progenitor Cells
Primary Supervisor: Dr Li Guirong


Please click here for the videos of their presentations.

In their closing remarks, Dr York Liao, Mr Kai-man Wong and Professor Ying Chan said that the quality of the research presented by the students was impressive.  Professor John Bacon-Shone hopes that the participants this year would encourage their fellow students in the junior year to participate in the Competition next year.

“As researchers, it is our responsibility to make our research readily understood by society. The experience of this competition will be valuable to all the student participants as well as their supervisors,” Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Paul Tam says.

The HKU 3MT Competition was jointly organized by the Graduate School and the Knowledge Exchange Office.  The support of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre in event production is deeply appreciated.

Awardees and finalists of the HKU 3MT Competition 2012 with Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Paul Tam and members of the adjudicating panel

Awardees and finalists of the HKU 3MT Competition 2012 with Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Paul Tam and members of the adjudicating panel

(From left, back row) Dr York Liao (HKU Council Member), Professor Nirmala Rao (Associate Dean of the Graduate School), Ms Zoe Wing Yee Tam (Finalist), Ms Yingying Zhang (Finalist), Ms To Kam Lam (Finalist), Professor Ying Chan (Director of JMSC), Mr Kai-man Wong (HKU Council Member), Professor John Bacon-Shone (Associate Director of KEO), Ms Li Zhang (Finalist), Ms Huijun Wu (Finalist), Ms Junyuan Li (Finalist)

(From left, front row) Mr Ricky Van Yip Tso (2nd Runner-up), Mr Wenkai Zhu (1st Runner-up), Mr Pun Tung Ng (the Champion and the winner of the People’s Choice Award), Professor Paul Tam (Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President [Research]), Professor Ben Young (Assistant Dean of the Graduate School), Ms Clara Hiu Ling Hung (Finalist), Mrs Thanuja Darshani Kumari Herath (Finalist)