York Graduate Students head to Kingston for 3MT Provincial Finals

Two York graduate students will carry the Lions standard to Kingston next week to compete in the Provincial Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Finals competition at Queen's University.

Kamilla Pietrzyk, a PhD political science student, and Carson Mok, a PhD  physics and astronomy student, will represent York in the competition April 18, after winning the University-wide finals on March 7 as part of a field of seven competitors. In Kingston they will compete against representatives from 15 other universities in the province.

In the Three Minute Thesis competition participants present their research and its wider impact in three minutes or less to a panel of non-specialist judges. The challenge is to present complex research in an engaging, accessible and compelling way, using only one PowerPoint slide.

York 3MT winner Kamilla Pietrzyk and first runner-up Carson Mok

York 3MT winner Kamilla Pietrzyk and first runner-up Carson Mok

"I'm honoured to go to Kingston to represent York and its internationally renowned graduate program in political science," Ms Pietrzyk said. Her presentation was on 'Changing the World in the Age of Distraction'.

Her research explores the impact of the social acceleration of time on the capacities and potentials of contemporary social movments, she said, "to find out how the speed-up of daily life shapes patterns of collective action."

Her thesis examines the history of the Canadian anti-globalization movement, focusing on three of its time-related practices in particular: building sustained movement organizations, learning from the past, that is collective memory, and thinking reflexively about the future, that is long-term strategic planning. Ms Pietrzyk said after carrying out more than 60 interviews, "I have found all three practices to be generally neglected, as social activists increasingly demonstrate a tendency towards what I am calling 'fast activism'."

Also excited is Mr. Mok. "I am thrilled to be one of York University's representatives at the Provincial 3MT. Interacting with and speaking to people from across all disciplines in FGS has been the highlight of the entire experience. Thank you for giving me this wonderful learning opportunity and I will do my best to show what exciting research is being done at York," he said. His presentation was on measuring gravity with light.

Mr. Mok has been studying the interactions of light and matter at ultra-cold temperatures under the supervision of Dr. Anantharaman Kumarakrishnan for the last five years. "The research we undertake furthers our basic understanding of the physics of gravity while having direct applications in the industrial world for resource prospecting and mapping," Mr. Mok said. "High-precision measurements in atomic, molecular and optical physics is a dynamic field that has many opportunities for the future."

Interim Dean and Associate Vice-President Graduate Barbara Crow

Interim Dean and Associate Vice-President Graduate Barbara Crow

Barabara Crow, Interim Dean and Associate Vice-President Graduate, who along with Lisa Phillips, Associate Vice-President Research and Guy Burry, from the York University Alumni Association, comprised the judging panel for the York competition said, "Three Minute Thesis is one of many formats to learn about the wide-ranging interdisciplinary graduate research at York. It was a challenging task for the graduate students to reduce complex ideas and years of research to a short format to convey what their research is about and why it matters. We look forward to our students' contribution to the event at Queen's."

Videos of the seven York University finalists and their presentations are available:

  1. Alana Cattapan
  2. Carson Mok
  3. Elizabeth Haley
  4. Jonathan Vandor
  5. Kamilla Pietrzyk
  6. Luana Sciullo
  7. Michael Thorn

Begun in Australia at the University of Queensland in 2008, the Three Minute Thesis competition provides graduate students with an opportunity to refine skills that can be transferred after graduation to diverse career paths. Distilling research into a clear form, without over-simplifying or making it too complex and highlighting the wider implications of the research are important skills to carry into post-graduate work situations.