3MT® 2023 Winner – Jesi Gibbs, M.S. in Marine Biology

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland in Australia. Graduate students have three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis/internship/research project and its significance. The exercise fosters academic, presentation, and research communication skills while developing students’ abilities to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non‐specialist audience. Jesi Gibbs is an MS Marine Biology graduate student who presented “Do Shrimp Feel Pain? Research to Inform Welfare Policy for Decapod Crustaceans.” Jesi was our first-place winner and will go on to the regional 3MT® competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools annual meeting in Greenville, SC on March 13-15, 2024. 

Source: Instagram @ohmanitsjesi

We wanted to follow up with Jesi and hear about her experience winning the competition. Here’s what she had to say:
Q) What is the 3MT and how did you hear about it? 

“The Three Minute Thesis competition prompts students to communicate the method and purpose of their thesis research within a three-minute window to a public audience. I heard about the competition through the CofC graduate school.”

Q) Why did you want to participate?  

“The competition was good practice in scientific communication. I thought it would be beneficial for me to be able to pare down all of the complexities of my graduate school research into something that anyone could understand and care about. The main purpose of my research is to inform public perception and policy, so being able to communicate it to a wider audience is crucial.”

Q) Could you tell us about your thesis research? 

“My research is exploring the capacity for feelings of pain in a shrimp species. Studying pain in animals is crucial for their welfare because we require humane treatment of animals that we think are capable of pain and suffering. We have these requirements for mammals, birds, and fish, but for most species of invertebrate animals (animals without a spine) protective regulations do not exist. Shrimp are one of these groups of invertebrates where little to no welfare research has been done, though they are used widely in research and commercially.

I will use a behavioral experiment to show that shrimp learn to avoid a cue associated with a painful stimulus. Additionally, I will attempt to show the communication of the painful stimulus via a chemical signal in the brain. If my results match what I expect to find, I will provide evidence for feelings of pain in shrimp, beyond reflex reaction, which may be used to assess welfare regulations and policies for these animals.”

Q) How did you prepare to win the competition? 

“I practiced, adjusted, practiced again, adjusted again, practiced in front of friends, and practiced some more! Lots of practice until I was comfortable with not only what I had to say, but how I wanted to say it.”

Q) What was your experience like presenting in front of the audience and judges? 

“It was a little nerve-wracking, but I had practiced in front of my friends, and our graduate program in marine biology requires lots of presentations, which helped me to feel fairly comfortable presenting in front of a group.”


Source: CofC Grad School


Q) What do you think made you stand out from the rest of the participants? 

“I tried my best to engage with the audience and really connect my research and its purpose to their lives, giving them something to relate to in the complicated jumble of what I was doing.”

Q) What were the rewards for your victory?  

“I got a monetary reward ($500) to help support my research! I also have the opportunity to present my research to a regional audience in March this year, as well as to the board of trustees of the College of Charleston. Lots of opportunities to share what I care about, as well as money to support the research.”

Q) What is your mindset going into the regional competition in March?  

“I’m just going to do my best. Practice some more, and adjust things that I think could be better. It would be great to win!”

Q) How has this experience benefited you personally and professionally?  

“It has given me practice in communication and the opportunity to share the research that I care about with a wider audience. This communication has the potential to open professional doors for me at the regional competition.”

Q) Why should graduate students consider participating in the 3MT? 

“I think it’s easy to get caught up in all the minutia and complexity of your thesis research and forget why you’re doing it. This allowed me to step back and think about the big picture and how it may be perceived by the public. I have a much better answer now when people ask me about my thesis. Also, money!”


Source: Jesi Gibbs

Thank you again to Jesi Gibbs for sharing her thoughts with us. We hope you found this information helpful and hope to see you at the CofC 3MT competition next year!


Watch the presentation: https://youtu.be/RmpGCLcV8P0?si=kC7m1_7Avyy7l0i7

MS Marine Biology Program webpagehttps://marinebiology.cofc.edu/

Regional Competition: Conference of Southern Graduate Schools

3MT Original Website: www.threeminutethesis.org

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