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Graduate students compete in 3-Minute Research competition

BOONE—Graduate student Alex Kirk can tell you about his research on adolescent suicide in three minutes flat. He did just that at the Fall 3-Minute Research competition on Dec. 3 at Appalachian State University sponsored by the Cratis D. Williams Graduate School. And he got the judges’ attention.

View larger imageWinners of Appalachian State University’s Fall 3-Minute Research competition were, from left, Alex Kirk, first place; Amber Mellon, runner-up; and Scott Hopkins, People’s Choice Award. The competition was sponsored by the Cratis D. Williams Graduate School. (Photo submitted)

Kirk, a second-year clinical psychology graduate student, won with a unanimous vote from the judges. His three-minute presentation focused on strategies for reducing the incidence of teen suicide in rural school districts. Kirk is a graduate student researcher in the Graduate Research Associates Mentoring (GRAM) program. His mentor is Kurt Michael.

The competition featured the research of 10 graduate student finalists from eight graduate programs in two colleges. If the average master’s thesis is about 100 pages, and it takes two minutes to read aloud one page of double-spaced 12-point type, it should have taken the student competitors 33 hours and 20 minutes to explain their research. Instead,
each one had three minutes and one PowerPoint slide through which to engage the audience in the research topic and explain to them why the public should care about the results of the study.

Other winners included appropriate technology graduate student Scott Hopkins, who garnered the audience vote for the People’s Choice Award. His mentor is Marie Hoepfl and his research focuses on efficiency and cost-savings from the use of high-quality modular construction for residence halls. Runner-up was Amber Mellon from mathematics with a presentation on using math to teach financial literacy to high school students. Her mentor is Mark Ginn.

Kirk will represent Appalachian at the regional 3 Minute Thesis competition sponsored by the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools in February 2014. The competition will be held at the annual CSGS meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

All three winners will present their research at the January meeting of the Educational Planning, Policies and Programs Committee of the UNC Board of Governors in Chapel Hill.

Judges for the competition were Jason Triplett, market president at Wells Fargo Bank, Mimi Fenton, dean of the graduate school and research at Western Carolina University, and Steve Jesseph, chief operating officer of the ICG Group of Companies.

The graduate student finalists were Allison Byrd (industrial-organizational psychology), Samuel Kovach (biology), Daniel Martin (geography), Linda Toth (technology), Dave Walker (Appalachian studies), Emily Wolfe (public administration) and Bryan Zorn (biology).

The 3-Minute Research competition is part of an international initiative called Three Minute Thesis (3MT®), a research communication competition started at Australia’s Queensland University in 2008. Currently, the competition is held in 13 countries around the world. Twenty universities in the United States are officially registered as affiliates. Appalachian is in the process of seeking affiliation.