Three Minute Thesis (3MT) 2019

This year’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, held on Wednesday 19th June as part of the Doctoral School’s Festival of Doctoral Research, gave a fascinating insight into the diverse areas of doctoral research being conducted at Sussex.

Presenting their research with one slide and just 180 seconds, the audience heard from:

  • Fatmah Alhazmi (School of English): #Women2drive: It is not just about driving
  • Farah Alrajeh (School of English): The 21st Century Iraqi Novel, Texts and Contexts
  • Mathias Ciliberto (School of Engineering and Informatics): Low Power Complex Human Gestures Recognition
  • Heidi Cobham (School of History, Art History and Philosophy): A Philosophical Re-examination of Romantic Love
  • Chris Mackin (School of Life Sciences): Wildflower Evolution: Let’s talk about the Birds and the Bees
  • Noora Nevala (School of Life Sciences): The fish view of the world
  • Nehaal Bajwa (School of Education and Social Work): Fathers’ narratives and practices of care in Pakistan

With each speaker delivering their presentations to a high quality and in a range of different styles, the judges had some tough decisions to make. Following the competition, at a prize-giving ceremony hosted by Dr Ruth Sellers (Senior Lecturer and ESRC Future Research Leader Fellow), Noora Nevala was awarded First Place, Heidi Cobham received Second Place, and Chris Mackin received the People’s Choice award. You can read the winners’ 3MT abstracts below.

Almost a week after the competition, Prof Gordon Harold (Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor – Research Excellence Framework) met the three winners for lunch to discuss the competition, their research, and life as a Sussex doctoral researcher.

The 3MT winners joined Prof Gordon Harold (Deputy PVC- Research Excellence Framework) for a celebratory lunch
L to R: Heidi, Noora, Chris, Gordon

In addition to receiving £500 towards Noora’s research, as the overall winner of the Sussex competition, Noora will go on to participate in the UK semi-final of the 3MT competition, hosted by Vitae.


The fish view of the world
Noora Nevala (School of Life Sciences)

Imagine a situation where you are diving in a shallow, slowly moving stream in India. You can see the red-brownish bottom, some green plants moving with the rhythm of the water and sunlight glimmering near the surface. All of a sudden a small swarm of tiny fish swim by and you start to wonder: how do they see this colourful underwater world? What is important for them to see? In my research, I study the connection between the natural environment of the zebrafish and their colour vision, and how this can be seen in their behaviour.


A Philosophical Re-examination of Romantic Love
Heidi Cobham (School of History, Art History and Philosophy)

Humanity shares a deep-seated fascination with romantic love. As a society, we are completely preoccupied with ways to find ‘the one’, ways to make romantic relationships work and ways to ‘love better’. However, despite such wide-spread attention, romantic relationships fail at an alarming rate, which begs the question: why is it that romantic relationships persistently fail? Using philosophy, my research argues that the failure of romantic relationships assumes that our current understanding of romantic love is highly problematic. Due to this, I propose a re-examination of romantic love, in order that we might have long-lasting and successful romantic relationships.


Wildflower Evolution: Let’s talk about the Birds and the Bees
Chris Mackin (School of Life Sciences)

Plants are vital for our existence, and by studying recent changes in plants we can better understand how plants will respond to global change and how best to conserve them. The evolution of new floral form can occur rapidly, such as when a plant invades a new area and experiences a change in the pollinator community visiting it. Using a species that is visited by bumblebees in the native range and hummingbirds in part of the new range, we found rapid evolution of plant floral traits. My research investigates how these traits are inherited and how the environment influences this.