Northern Michigan University hosts annual Three Minute Thesis event

MARQUETTE — Thursday’s Three Minute Thesis competition at Northern Michigan University featured topics ranging from the assessment of sex differences and behavioral effects of psychostimulants on schedule-induced polydipsia to National Football League conditioning practices from 1997 to 2018.

The event took place at the University Center.

Competitors had one slide and only three minutes to explain their original research in a way that an audience of non-experts, as well as a judging panel, could understand.

The annual competition, which is held at over 600 universities in more than 65 countries, gives graduate students the opportunity to showcase their theses.

“The objective is to provide students with an opportunity to focus and to think about their work and to talk about their work and its importance to a general audience,” said Lisa Eckert, NMU interim dean of graduate education and research.

Taking first place in the graduate category was Kathryn Bianga, who is studying business administration. Her talk focused on cloud-computing for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The cloud is not really a cloud but a shared pool of resources that people can access using the internet, she said, with cloud-service providers using their space to store programs for free or for a price.

“In a similar manner, businesses with fewer resources and a small budget can be leveraging the cloud to gain a competitive advantage,” Bianga said.

Her research turned up several discoveries.

She found out businesses can save money on expensive information technology infrastructure by using clouds, which are relatively safe. Clouds also can be accessed anywhere there’s an internet, and business IT teams can be more productive by focusing on strategic goals instead of spending time on IT maintenance.

Bianga delivered her thesis in a concise, confident manner.

“I prepared for this for about the last three weeks, going through my research, putting it together and just practicing,” Bianga said.

Biology student Veronica Snow finished second, while Jaime Vanenkevort, an education student and reading specialist, won the People’s Choice Award in the graduate category.

Also competing in this category were psychological science majors Alex Lekander and MinKyung Park and exercise science major Corey Fitzgerald.

Cecilia Ruiz, who is studying neuroscience, took first place and the People’s Choice Award in the category for students in the McNair Scholars program, a federally funded program focused on helping first-generation, low-income and underserved students interested in pursuing a graduate degree.

Brittney Moore, a biology major with the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center, finished second.

The other competitors in the category were Jordan Wallace, clinical laboratory science; Molly Liford, sociology; and Malachi Tripaldi, anthropology.

The top three competitors earned a cash prize, with Bianga earning $500 and a trip to the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools Competition in St. Louis.

The University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, developed the 3MT and conducted the first competition in 2008.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is