Trinity’s Lianne Shanley wins Irish Three Minute Thesis competition

15 Nov 2023

Lianne Shanley. Image: Jason Clarke

Shanley and seven other Irish-based researchers were challenged to explain their theses in three minutes for a general audience.

The Irish Universities Association (IUA) has crowned the winner of its first-ever Three Minute Thesis competition at an event held today (15 November) in Dublin.

Lianne Shanley scooped the top prize for her three-minute overview of her PhD thesis on the immune response to biomaterials for bone regeneration. The Trinity College Dublin researcher also won the Audience Choice award.

The IUA organised the competition based on a similar format devised by the University of Queensland. The Australian university came up with the format – which involves early-career researchers talking about their theses for three minutes – to encourage them to share their research with a general, non-specialist audience.

The experience is also intended to enable the participating researchers to grow their science communication skills. The competition saw researchers from different universities across Ireland compete to win the regional heats and represent their universities nationally. Today’s final featured eight PhD researchers.

“I am thrilled to have won the national final of the Three Minute Thesis,” said Shanley. “It has been a fantastic experience participating in this competition and taking part has allowed me to think of my research in a new and creative way and, of course, communicate it in a clear and concise way.”

Shanley was chosen as the winner by a judging panel that included Ibec CEO, Danny McCoy; director general of Science Foundation Ireland, Prof Philip Nolan; independent director, Dr Orlaigh Quinn, as well as editor, Jenny Darmody.

Diverse variety of talent on display

IUA director general Jim Miley, who was also on the judging panel as its chair, extended his congratulations to all involved in the final. “Irish universities boast a diverse variety of talented researchers,” he added. “I hope the experience gives each and every one the inspiration to continue to confidentially communicate your research.”

Victoria Ward, a PhD researcher at the University of Galway, won the runner-up prize for her explanation of her thesis on mechanical stabilisation strategies for heart health. Sergey Katsuba, Astrid Dedieu, Patrick Dolan, Mairéad Gallagher, Meabh Kennedy and Bill Calvey were the other finalists in the national competition and winners of their regional heats.

University College Dublin legal researcher Katsuba’s PhD looked at Russian authoritarian practices. Dublin City University’s Kennedy spoke about antibiotic-resistant bacteria, while TU Dublin representative Gallagher looked at antimicrobial resistance. Calvey’s research also deals with health, and he spoke about older people’s attitudes to healthcare on behalf of Maynooth University. Dedieu gave a three-minute talk about her research at University College Cork on the impacts of offshore windfarms on seabirds’ breeding habits. And Dolan from the University of Limerick’s talk was titled Thousands of Resources For a Few Dozen Players, Yet Thousands of Players Have No Resources.

The full list of Three Minute Thesis videos is available to watch on the IUA’s YouTube channel.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic