U21 Three Minute Thesis ® Global Competition 2023 Winners Announced

With rapid advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ever-increasing competition for attention in a digital world, it is more important than ever for new and developing researchers to hone the art of clearly communicating their research. 

Research students in the U21 network recently competed in the Global Three Minute Thesis (3MT ®) Competition. They were tasked with explaining their PhD thesis, through an online presentation of no more than three minutes.  

Researchers from 19 world leading universities took part. The contest's main aim is to cultivate academic, presentation and research communication skills, requiring participants to succinctly convey the significance of their research to a non-specialist audience.  

Image of a man in glasses with black hair standing looking a the camera with his hands folded in front of him. He wears a blue shirt, dark blazer and light trousers.
Seow Wei Lun, National University of Singapore

Universitas 21 is delighted to announce that Seow Wei Lun from the National University of Singapore is the 2023 winner of the U21 3MT ® global competition. Seow’s winning presentation Chunking: Learning from Memory Games for the Game of Life explains his research on how we can, though games, group information into chunks to improve memory and potentially solve the world's problems. 

“It is a tremendous honour for my presentation to be selected as the winner for this year’s Universitas 21 3MT ®. This wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering support from my lab at the National University of Singapore and the NUS Graduate School. I am grateful for this incredible opportunity to share my research on memory mechanisms and chunking on a global stage. I hope my work contributes to the expanding body of neuroscientific knowledge, as we strive towards optimal cognitive performance and better interventions for cognitive impairment.” 

Winning the 2023 Highly Commended Prize is Cam Hoffbeck from The University of Auckland. Cam’s PhD thesis The Tuatara Microbiome: Environmental Influences and Conservation Implications explores if the microbiome in the gut of a tuatara (a reptile endemic to New Zealand) can inform the conservation of the species. 

A headshot of Cam who is smiling broadly to the camera
Cam Hoffbeck, University of Auckland

“It's been such an engaging process to share my research through 3MT ® with my peers in New Zealand, and to have that research received well internationally makes me realize that my work is exciting even to people who aren't familiar with tuatara. I've enjoyed the opportunity to think more deeply about the broader goals of my research, and seeing my own excitement about it reflected back from the people I share it with has been very rewarding. This win means I need to keep working to communicate my research and sharing why it's important.” 


The 2023 People’s Choice winner is Diret Bitrus Tang’an from the University of Nottingham with his presentation Hope For The Environment: Microwave Heating which explains how microwave heating can be used to help clean petroleum contamination from the Niger delta. 

Diret wears a blue suit with white shirt and tie and is smiling at the camera with hands on hips
Diret Bitrus Tang'an, University of Nottingham

"I am highly honoured to be the global People’s Choice winner of the 2023 U21 3MT® competition. Many thanks to U21 for the challenging opportunity to further develop my art of pitching complex research concisely and engagingly. Special thanks to the teams at the University of Nottingham, my sponsor (PTDF), my family, and my friends for their support throughout this journey. Above all, thanks to God for His wisdom. I hope that my research will contribute immensely to the greater cause of saving our environment."

The panel of judges, comprised of research experts from across the U21 network, praised the winners for their exceptional ability to communicate complex ideas with clarity, passion, and relevance.  

Professor Jenny Dixon, Provost of Universitas 21, expressed her admiration for all the entries "The calibre and breadth of research presented this year was truly exceptional. The U21 3MT® competition underscores the importance of effective communication in research and provides a platform for young scholars to gain recognition and experience in an international research setting.” 

All entries to the 2023 U21 3MT ® Global Competition can be seen here.


Amber Bartlett