HKU Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition 2013

"The 3MT event not only challenges me to articulate my study succinctly and transmit its significance effectively to the general community, it more importantly also provides a valuable opportunity to improve my public speaking skill, which I believe can only be developed through actualization. Even if you have numerous presentation experiences in various (international) academic conferences throughout the course of your postgraduate study, even if you have tons of teaching experience, and even if you have always been so composed and confident when presenting your thesis to your academic fellows and supervisors, believe it or not, 3MT is an entirely different experience. I treasure such experience tremendously. I sincerely encourage everyone to participate in the 3MT competition. It's fun! You will benefit from it more than you would have imagined," says Cassini Chu, Champion of the HKU 3MT 2013.

"Although I have explained my thesis to friends who are not interested in space or history before, I did not talk in the simplest language until I started writing my 3MT script. The competition was a great opportunity for me to learn to distill my thesis into a concise script of three minutes, using clear and effective vocabularies. The competition was an extremely fun, rewarding and enjoyable experience. A number of people made it possible. My deepest gratitude goes to Dr Janet Borland, Prof. John Carroll, and most importantly, my primary supervisor Prof. Charles Schencking for their time, guidance, support and encouragement. I would also like to thank my teachers and friends from the Department of History for their advice and support. The comments they offered greatly enhanced the strength and colour of my script and presentation," says Phoebe Tang, 1st Runner-up and winner of the People's Choice Award. 

"3MT was really a challenging competition for me, and I bet for other participants as well. The challenge was not coming from giving a presentation to strangers - in which for a final year postgraduate he/she should have given presentations at local or international conferences before. The challenge was from how to consolidate your research findings in only 180 seconds, and communicate to your audience effectively. I always believe that communication is a key component of research, and this is what makes your findings and results meaningful. I must thank my friends and colleagues for practising with me and supporting me throughout the preparation and competition. I should give my special thanks to Dr Terence Ng, the champion of last year's 3MT, who gave me a lot of ideas on improving my presentation. And I also thank my supervisor, Dr Kenneth Leung, for giving me guidance and support throughout my study," says King Yan Ho, 2nd Runner-up.

"Bringing our research to the public is just as important as the science itself. On the path of our PhD study, we are always encouraged to strengthen our communication and presentation skill. However, our target audience is mainly our fellow researchers in the same field, which could sometimes be merely a small community. The 3MT competition is a brilliant idea, as it reminded us that the ultimate goal of research is, indeed, to contribute new knowledge to society. The attention of the audience is short-lived nowadays in this fast-paced world - we normally do not get more than a few minutes before they start pulling out their phones. I have learned in this competition that to successfully maintain their attention, creativity is needed to translate our "alien" language and simplify the complex plot in an engaging way. I would like to express my greatest gratitude to my supervisors, Dr C J Seneviratne and Prof. L P Samaranayake, for their guidance and support," says Sarah Wong, winner of the Online People's Choice Award.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition 2013 of HKU was successfully held on June 11, 2013. This year 40 research postgraduate (RPg) students participated in the competition, and 10 finalists were shortlisted to compete for 3 prizes decided by the adjudicating panel and the People's Choice Award decided by audience ballot. The Online People's Choice Award was awarded to the finalist who received the most 'LIKE' votes on YouTube after the competition.

The 3MT was developed by The University of Queensland, Australia in 2008. It 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.

Professor Paul Y S Cheung, Associate Vice-President of HKU, officiated at the final competition. Mr Man Cheuk Fei, HKU Council Member, and Ms Linda Yeung, Education Editor of the South China Morning Post (SCMP), served 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), who served as the Chairman of the panel, Dr Danny Chan, Associate Professor of the Department of Biochemistry, 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. Professor Becky Loo, Assistant Dean of the Graduate School, helped adjudicate at one of the parallel heats.

Congratulations to all the winners of the HKU 3MT Competition 2013. They are:


Champion (awarded research travel support or book prize of HK$7,000)

Name: Ms Sai Kwan Cassini CHU
Degree Registered: PhD
Faculty: Social Sciences
Title of Presentation: Compensated Dating
Primary Supervisor: Professor Karen Joe Laidler


1st Runner-up (awarded research travel support or book prize of HK$5,000); and
People's Choice Award Winner (awarded research travel support or book prize of HK$3,000)

Name: Ms Yin Hang Phoebe TANG
Degree Registered: MPhil
Faculty: Arts
Title of Presentation: Selling Skylab: Dreams and Challenges
Primary Supervisor: Professor Charles Schencking


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

Name: Mr King Yan HO
Degree Registered: PhD
Faculty: Science
Title of Presentation: Ecological and Human Health Risks Associated with Organotin Contamination in the Marine Environment of Hong Kong
Primary Supervisor: Professor Kenneth M Y Leung


Online People's Choice Award Winner (awarded book voucher of HK$800)

Name: Ms Sarah Sze Wah WONG
Degree Registered: PhD
Faculty: Dentistry
Title of Presentation:   Discovery of a "Magic Bullet" for a Deadly Fungus
Primary Supervisor: Professor L P Samaranayake


Cassini will represent HKU at the Trans-Tasman 3MT Competition hosted by The University of Western Sydney (UWS) in Parramatta, Sydney on October 18, 2013.

"Through participation in the 3MT, I hope that our young researchers are equipped for the challenge to promulgate their research discoveries concisely and precisely, and make a real impact on the world," Professor Paul Cheung says.

The HKU 3MT Competition was jointly organized by the Graduate School and KEO. The support of JMSC in event production is deeply appreciated. Videos on the presentations of the awardees and finalists can be viewed here.

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 3MT Competition with the officiating guest, members of the adjudicating panel and supervisors of the awardees and finalists.

(From left, back row) Professor Charles Schencking (supervisor of the 1st runner-up Ms Phoebe Yin Hang Tang), Professor Ben Young (Assistant Dean of the Graduate School), Professor Paul Cheung (Associate Vice-President), Professor Nirmala Rao (Associate Dean of the Graduate School), Mr Man Cheuk Fei (HKU Council Member), Dr Danny Chan (Associate Professor of the Department of Biochemistry), Professor John Bacon-Shone (Associate Director of KEO), Dr Jan van Aalst (supervisor of the finalist Ms Ella Lai Fan Fu)

(From left, front row) Ms Kwan Lam Wong (finalist), Ms Sarah Sze Wah Wong (finalist), Professor Ying Chan (Director of JMSC), Ms Yuner Huang (finalist), Ms Cassini Sai Kwan Chu (Champion), Ms Phoebe Yin Hang Tang (1st Runner-up and the recipient of the People's Choice Award), Mr King Yan Ho (2nd Runner-up), Ms Linda Yeung (Education Editor of SCMP), Mr Ian Tsz Yat Chong (finalist), Ms Charmaine Kai Wing Fung (finalist), Ms Ella Lai Fan Fu (finalist), Mr Oscar Wai Ho Yeung (finalist)