Photo:
Piret Ehrenpreis

Record high number of participants in 3-minute thesis competition

The three-minute thesis competition for the University of Tartu doctoral students on 11 November saw a record number of participants. Twenty-eight doctoral students took part in this year’s competition with 29 presentations, including nine in Estonian and 20 in English. The best three presenters in Estonian will have an opportunity to represent the University of Tartu at the Estonian Academy of Science competition “Science in Three Minutes”. The best presentation in English will represent the university at the international Coimbra Group 3-Minute Thesis competition.

The top three in the Estonian competition were:

  1. Kertu Liis Krigul “Antibiootikum – kas hunt lambanahas?”;
  2. Jürgen Karvak “Linna vooluveekogude tähtsus”;
  3. Kristo Raun “Otsetee otsusteni – vastavuskontrolli tegemine voogandmetel”.

Kertu Liis Krigul, Junior Research Fellow in Microbiomics at the Institute of Genomics, in her presentation, viewed the risks that the misuse of antibiotics poses to humans and the environment.

Jürgen Karvak, Junior Research Fellow in Stream Ecology at the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, talked about small watercourses as oases of biodiversity in urban ecosystems.

Kristo Raun, Junior Research Fellow in Big Data at the Institute of Computer Science, introduced his research that aims to use streaming data to improve business processes.

The top three in the English competition were:

  1. Quazi Saimoon Islam “Visual methods for planetary surface navigation”;
  2. Sanni Färkkilä “Light at the End of the Tunnel”;
  3. Biplabi Bhattarai “Studying plant roots to understand the effect of global warming on the ecosystem”.

Quazi Saimoon Islam, Junior Research Fellow in Space Technology at Tartu Observatory, develops robots’ orientation skills for navigating unfamiliar environments, such as the forest, but also on the Moon or Mars.

Sanni Färkkilä, Junior Research Fellow in Mycology at the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, in her presentation, drew attention to the phosphorus crisis looming in agriculture by the end of the century. While phosphorus is one of the most vital substances for plant growth, phosphorite supplies for fertiliser production are running low. Sanni uses fluorescent nanoparticles to study how fungi can capture and transfer phosphorus from the soil to plants. Understanding this mechanism could help alleviate the impending fertiliser crisis.

Biplabi Bhattarai, Junior Research Fellow in Landscape Ecology at the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, studies the effect of global warming on plant roots to understand better how the Earth’s ecosystems will respond to future climate changes.

Representatives of all faculties proposed solutions to burning issues

The winning presentations show that University of Tartu doctoral students are looking for solutions to diverse societal problems. Participants were from each university faculty: 21 doctoral students from the Faculty of Science and Technology, four from the Faculty of Social Sciences, two from the Faculty of Medicine, and one from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.

The competition jury comprised Airika Harrik, journalist of the ERR Novaator science portal; Alina Roštšinskaja, finalist in the Estonian Academy of Sciences competition last year, a doctoral student in Medicine and resident in Pediatrics; Tuul Sepp, Associate Professor in Animal Ecology; Maret Ahonen, Startup Lab Manager; Mart Alaru, Research Communication Specialist at Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies; and Monika Tasa, Development Adviser of the Office of Academic Affairs.

Winners of the competition in Estonian will represent the university at the Estonian Academy of Sciences competition “Science in Three Minutes” at the beginning of the next year. The best five presenters will be determined in the national finals. A professional production team will make three-minute videos of their presentations, which will be broadcast on Estonian Television in April. Viewers will choose their favourite from the video presentations shown on television.

The video recording of the best presentation in English will be sent as the University of Tartu’s representative to the international Coimbra Group 3-minute thesis competition. There, an international judging panel will select from all participants the best three who get the opportunity to participate in the finals held during the Coimbra Group Annual Conference.

Participation in the three-minute thesis competition is an excellent way to introduce your research to larger audiences and learn about the work of doctoral students in other research fields. At the competition, the doctoral students gave an engaging three-minute presentation to briefly introduce the aim of their research, the problem to be solved and the method of solution. A video recording was made of each presentation. In cooperation with ERR Novaator, some presentations will also reach a wider audience.

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