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Davis College doctoral student wins second place at national pitch competition


Sindupa De Silva, doctoral student from the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, showed his savvy research communications skills at the Three-Minute Thesis Regional Competition in Greenville, South Carolina, by winning second place.

As the 2023 WVU 3MT Competition winner, De Silva represented WVU at the annual Conference of Southern Graduate Schools by participating in a two-day competition against 60 contestants who were all 3MT competition winners from East Coast schools.

The internationally renowned 3MT competition, founded by the University of Queensland in Australia, challenges doctoral students to present their dissertation research in just three minutes using a single PowerPoint slide. 

De Silva’s presentation, “Human Land-Use Practices and Their Impacts on Nature’s Kidneys,” focuses on how 30% of the world’s population — 2.2 billion people — do not have access to clean water, and how protecting wetland ecosystems globally can help protect the availability of clean water.

Betty Mei, program director for graduate student success in the Office of Graduate Education and Life, helped coach De Silva to perfect his pitch performance.

“It was my pleasure working with Sindupa ahead of the regional competition,” Mei said. “Competing with 3MT winners from over 60 universities is no easy task. I am so proud of Sindupa for giving his best performance yet to garner a second-place award.”

De Silva plans to continue pitching his research dissertation. Next up, he will compete at the Council of Graduate Schools Annual Conference’s 3MT competition in St. Louis later this fall. 

WVU holds the annual competition during Graduate Student Appreciation Week. This year, 10 finalists will compete for cash prizes beginning at 6 p.m. April 3 in the Mountainlair Ballrooms. The public is invited to attend the event and cast votes for their favorite presentation for the People’s Choice Award. 

For questions, contact Mei at