Festival round-up: Three Minute Thesis 2020 Final

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) returned to Sussex a few weeks ago for the Festival of Doctoral Research 2020. It was, however, different to previous years as the proceedings took place entirely online! The 3MT event usually takes centre stage at the Festival, and we were determined not to let a global pandemic and national lockdown get in the way.

A banner for 3MT Three Minute Thesis, Founded by the University of Queensland

After getting the all clear to host the event virtually from the 3MT founders, University of Queensland, and UK organisers, Vitae, we set about organising the logistics and moving everything online. It seemed that the Sussex doctoral community was equally determined not to let lockdown prevent them from taking part, as we received plenty of applications to participate. After holding 3MT training sessions with facilitator Dr Sarah Robins-Hobden, and a peer practice session to hone their skills, this year’s presenters took to the remote stage in front of judges and a Zoom audience!

Pro Vice Chancellor Stephen Shute opened the show and after the judging panel of Dr Katy Petherick (Public Engagement Coordinator at the School of Life Sciences), Dr Mahmoud Maina (Research Fellow and People’s Choice Winner 2016), and Dr Andrew Fleming (Regional Manager of The Brilliant Club) introduced themselves, the participants got going.

Anyone in the audience is sure to agree that the calibre of presentations this year was extremely high. After everyone had delivered their presentations, the judges deliberated in their break-out room and the participants had a well-deserved break, while the audience voted for their People’s Choice winner. Due to such high quality presentations, the judges had an extremely difficult decision to make and needed all of their allotted time to come to a conclusion.

Upon returning for the prize-giving ceremony, the results were announced, and we are delighted to confirm the winners below. Congratulations to you all, and also to everyone who participated, as all the presentations were inspirational and delivered in a unique and entertaining way. You can read all of the presenters’ abstracts on the 3MT 2020 webpage.

Stay tuned to Doctoral Connections as we will be adding more Festival posts and catching up with event winners in the coming weeks.


First place – £500 towards research and a place in the UK quarter finals: Melina Galdos Frisancho (University of Sussex Business School)

A woman delivering a presentation.
Making sense of Inclusive Innovation: Institutional Drivers for Knowledge Production and Organisational Learning in Peru

3MT Winner Melina’s research explores how universities approach developing ingenious alternatives to conventional ways of delivering basic services. She questions what drives research teams to respond basic services challenges and how their actions are shaped by the context in which they operate, and investigates how researchers’ sense-making shape their understandings, actions, and the different ways in which they come together to create enabling environments for developing socially inclusive innovations.


Second place – £250 towards research: Sushri Sangita Puhan (Education and Social Work)

A woman delivering a presentation.
Why and how people think, talk and practice adoption in India

Sushri’s research looks into the experience of adoptive family life in India, where adoption is an emerging practice in recent years. Since adopted children and adoptive parents have no access to the birth family information, it has been traditionally a confidential practice in the country. However, recently there is a transition in the legal process to promote adoption. Sushri’s research on adoptive family lives in India aims to understand how and why people think, talk, and practice adoption in their everyday lives in an environment where adoption is largely unspoken.


People’s Choice award – £250 towards research: Judy Aslett (Media, Film and Music)

A woman delivering a presentation.
Making a TV documentary to support the #ENDFGM campaign in The Gambia

Despite having internet connection issues, we arranged for Judy’s presentation to be shown with a pre-recorded video. Judy’s research investigates Female Genital Mutilation in The Gambia, where most girls endure the practice as children, without anaesthetic. Her thesis involves making the factual documentary “My FGM Story”, in collaboration with presenter Halimatou Ceesay, and assessing the impact of the film on men and women in The Gambia. It is the first time a documentary about FGM has been shown on TV in The Gambia, with Halimatou interviewing her family, Imams, health professionals and President Adama Barrow as she campaigns to end FGM in a generation.