University of Tokyo: UTokyo 2022 3MT competition results announced

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an international research communication competition, which challenges current Ph.D. students to present their work in under three minutes. Participants can only use one static slide and their explanation must be suitable for a nonspecialist audience.

This year, the University of Tokyo held its fourth 3MT competition on July 29. After a process of elimination and preparation, 16 finalists recorded their video presentations for the virtual event, covering a broad range of fascinating topics from greening deserts and sustainable food consumption, to managing urban heritage and remote workplace communication.

Three judges volunteered for the task of deciding the grand prize winner and runner-up: Diane Gubatanga, last year’s UTokyo 3MT grand prize winner from the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences at UTokyo; Project Associate Professor Euan McKay, from the Public Relations and Funding Division at Kobe University; and Professor Ken Ishii, from the Division of Vaccine Science, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Medical Science at UTokyo.

After watching the videos independently and then coming together to deliberate their final choices, the judges awarded this year’s grand prize to Maximilien Berthet from the Graduate School of Engineering, for his presentation “Sailing satellites, pushed by the air and the sun.” Judge McKay said, “We really enjoyed this presentation and the speaker managed to make something very complex seem simple. Max was able to condense his thoughts and make it really easy for the audience to follow. He produced a good story with a relatable personal touch and real-world examples.”

The runner-up prize was awarded to Mika Hayashi from the Graduate School of Science, for her presentation “Deciphering our DNA through the lens of AI.” Judge Gubatanga said, “Mika presented her research in a clear way, with a very nice analogy. She also told a well-considered story.”

UTokyo account members had two weeks to cast their ballot for the People’s Choice Award. After tallying the votes, the clear favorite was Kyungjin Kim from the Graduate School of Engineering, with his presentation “Estimating the response of damage concentrated floor without sensor.” Commenting on his presentation, McKay said: ”It was excellent for the clear and simple statement of the problem, and the delivery was very friendly and engaging.”

The judges found it difficult to choose between this year’s entries and congratulated all the participants, who delivered professional and highly engaging presentations. As Gubatanga said, “Everyone did a really good job of conveying their research well and we could feel their passion. If you have this ability, I think you will become a very good researcher in the future.” McKay added that, “They all had a really good story. They got the idea of describing the problem, process, future and impact. I was really, really impressed.”

Screenshot of participants at the 2022 UToyko zoom final and awards ceremony.
Participants at the virtual 2022 UTokyo Final and Awards Ceremony.
Speaking about the benefits of research communication and 3MT, aside from the chance to win research funds, McKay said: “Every time we explain something to someone else, it helps us. When you explain what you are doing, it really helps you to understand your own ideas. It’s important to share knowledge with other people so they can make use of it, but it is also equally important for the researchers themselves. Also, audience awareness is just a useful life skill.”

The UTokyo 3MT competition has now ended, but the grand prize winner will go on to represent the university at the 2022 Virtual Asia Pacific 3MT Semi-Final on September 26.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. Launched in 2008, it is now held in over 900 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide.

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