Experiencing Three Minute Thesis - Barbora's Story

Author: Kyle

Posted on May 7, 2019

Category: Student Stories

Ever wonder what it is like to take part in the annual Three Minute Thesis challenge?

The winner of UNB's 2019 Three Minute Thesis, and UNB representative at the Eastern Regional 3MT competition, has got you covered!

Barbora Balonova - My 3MT Journey

Hi all!

My name is Barbora and I am currently in the last year of my PhD at the Department of Chemistry in Fredericton, UNB. I come from Slovakia, where I completed my BSc and MSc in Chemistry at the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava. In 2015 I started my PhD at University of Kent in Canterbury, United Kingdom where I completed first two years of my degree. Since 2017 I have been attending UNB after my supervisor Dr. Blight relocated to Canada. My research deals with beautiful colored compounds that can be used in displays of your smartphones or TVs. We are trying to explore new methods for color tuning of these materials, which will make them more effective and it will reduce their cost and preparation time – as we know time is money!

On March 21-22, 2019 I had the opportunity to present my PhD research in only 3 minutes and I ended up winning the 3MT competition at UNB! I personally enjoyed all the presentations, the group of people competing this year in the UNB finals was amazing and I felt it was very difficult for the judges to choose the winner. To my big surprise, I won the 1st place and was given the opportunity represent UNB in the Eastern Regional Competition in Montreal. That was just amazing! But how did it all begin?

I remember attending the 3MT as a spectator during the second year of my PhD while I was still in England. The whole concept was new for me, but I immediately liked that idea that one has to be able to explain the research to general audience in very short and limited time. The fact that it was all just a spoken word and one slide made it more exciting and more difficult than one would think. At that time I could not imagine myself trying to participating, but I told myself that one day I will…

A year passed, I moved to Canada to finish the other half of my degree and the 3MT 2018 time came up. I remember getting the emails about the registration, but unfortunately I missed the deadline to apply. But I made it in for 2019, which was basically my last chance as I am approaching the end of my PhD studies – and it was worth it. My preparation started with attending the coaching sessions, where we discussed our presentations with the coaches and fellow participants and their feedback was very valuable. Thanks to these sessions I knew what to expect on the day of the competition and got some very useful tips that I later incorporated in both – my slide and my speech. As I really enjoy making slides and putting together presentations, I can say that making my 3MT slide was the easier part.

Most challenging for me was to come up with speech that will cover at least some background, explain the chemistry behind my research in a way that even a non-specialist audience will know what I am talking about, basically explain my thesis in 180 seconds. All I can recommend is to use your own personality and simplify! My preparation included lots of practice runs until I was able to remember the main structure of my talk. Surprisingly, my talk was always slightly different in all three competitive runs that I did. I guess that I like to improvise a little J

I am very lucky to have a very supportive group of friends and colleagues in my research group and in our Chemistry Department. All of them were very helpful during this whole 3MT journey. Special thanks to my supervisor Dr. Blight and to my friends Sarah, Jayden and Sydney, who patiently listened to my talk multiple times and probably remembered it all by heart.

At the end of March 2019, I represented UNB in the Eastern Regional 3MT Competition, which was hosted by the McGill University in Montreal. During the competition I met wonderful people from other universities and had the chance to network with them. We talked about our research and we found out that many presenters this year were from sciences! I guess science rules the world!

We all shared the same opinion that we really enjoyed the 3MT competition and can only recommend it to everyone. As I found out you will not only get better at communicating your research but you will boost your presentation skills and learn something new about yourself.

And maybe even win some awards for it!