Universitas 21 - Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) 2018 Winners announced

  • The Universitas 21 3MT® competition brings together the very best of doctoral students from around the world in a global arena to find the best of the best
  • Having been chosen as the 3MT® finalist in their own University, the challenge for research students is to present their thesis in a 3-minute video and win a world title

Universitas 21 is delighted to announce that Jonathan Berengut from UNSW Sydney is the 2018 Winner of the U21 3MT® (Three Minute Thesis) competition. Jonathan won with a presentation of his PhD thesis Bio-Nano Robo-Mofos, which uses a technique called ‘DNA origami’ to construct billions of nanoscale robots - each one thousands of times smaller than the thickness of a single hair - to accomplish complex molecular tasks.

Jonathan explains, “Although DNA origami nanobots like the ones I build have been used for many things such as cancer drug delivery, nanoelectronics and biosensing, I see what I do as fundamental research, it adds to our understanding of how we can control matter at the nanoscale. And that’s the kind of thing that will lead to new materials and medicines.” 

Jonathan Berengut - Winner of the 2018 3MT Competition
Jonathan Berengut, UNSW - U21 3MT Winner 2018

He continues,I’m stoked to have won the U21 3MT® Final. I saw the other U21 3MT® videos, and to be put in the same category as them is pretty amazing, let alone to win it.” 

The runner up was Phoebe Kirkwood from the University of Edinburgh, Deanery of Clinical Sciences. Her thesis, The Secrets of Scarless Healing studies the scar-free wound healing event that takes place in the endometrium following menstruation with a view to applying this knowledge to other tissue systems that largely undergo fibrosis in response to injury that causes irreversible damage.

Phoebe Kirkwood
Phoebe Kirkwood, University of Edinburgh, Runner Up (centre)

Phoebe said, “I am absolutely stunned but thrilled to be awarded the runner up position in this year’s Universitas21 3MT® competition. Each and every competitor was outstanding so it is a real honour to have been chosen from amongst them.”  

The 2018 People’s Choice winner was Roshaida Abdul Wahab from University College Dublin, Institute of Food and Health. Her research, The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth, focuses on dietary biomarkers, a new method of capturing people’s dietary intake using a metabolomics approach. These biomarkers offer a more objective measure of people's diet and have a potential to give a huge impact on the connections between diet, health & diseases. 

Roshaida Abdul Wahab
Roshaida Abdul Wahab, University College Dublin, People's Choice Winner

Roshaida said, “Winning the U21 3MT® People’s Choice Award will give me the opportunity to not only convey my research to the international scientific community but most importantly, to the global public.”

The panel of judges comprised Associate Professor Caroline Daley (University of Auckland) and Chair of the U21 Deans of Graduate Studies group, Maria Balinska, Editor and Co-CEO, The Conversation (US), Sally Jeffery, Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers Middle East and Global Education Network Leader, Professor Dick Strugnell, Professor of Microbiology, Former Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne, Professor Francisco Aboitiz, Founder and Director of the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Programme in Neuroscience at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Professor Strugnell commented, “As always, judging a 3MT® competition was a very difficult task but the winner produced an outstanding presentation, which was slightly above the others. His story telling, and particularly the analogies, was engaging, his humour and easy presentation manner sold the core concepts of the nanobots and the contribution they will make to humankind.”

Universitas 21 Provost Professor Bairbre Redmond said, "Congratulations to all our competitors in this year's U21 3MT® challenge. The U21 network brings together the best academic minds across the world and this competition gives us an exciting glimpse of transformative ideas which will go on to have a powerful impact on the 21st century. It is a privilege for U21 to showcase such brilliant ideas from brilliant people."

All the U21 3MT® presentations can be seen here.

Jonathan Berengut, UNSW, 3MT 2018 Winner: Bio-Nano Robo-Mofos