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3MT Grand Finale Winners Announced


The Office of Graduate Education and Life announced the winners of the annual Three-Minute Thesis Competition [], which was held on April 3 during WVU Graduate Student Appreciation Week and Research Week.

For the first time in WVU 3MT competition history, two doctoral students tied for first place. Statler College student, Denis Ruto, and the College of Applied Human Services Ph.D. candidate, Paige Zalman, both received the same scores to win. Zalman also won the People’s Choice Award.

Even though Ruto acknowledged that it was a great challenge to narrow down his dissertation and research to under three minutes, he impressed the judges on his presentation, “Sustainable Nutrient Management Opportunities for Small Communities with Wastewater Lagoons.”

Meanwhile, Zalman scored points with both the judges and audience members with her presentation on “Exploring Music Major Mental Health Using Photovoice and Narrative Inquiry.” She emphasized the importance of qualitative methodologies that can help people better understand the nature of problems people are researching today.

Second place was awarded to Immunology specialist in the School of Medicine, Kayla Steinberger, for her presentation on “Hypoxia Regulates Vessel-Modifying Macrophages and Vice Versa in Tumors.” She emphasized that, as a future scientist, it’s important to know how to best communicate her science to the public, so she takes every opportunity to get in front of people and “make stuff that's really hard, sound really easy.”

Vaishakhi Suresh, studying Industrial and Management Systems Engineering in Statler College, received third place for her research presentation on “Exploring the Challenges of Handling Mass Fatalities during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” When asked why she entered the competition, Vaishakhi said that it's a great opportunity to talk about her research to the rest of the WVU community. She was also excited to meet other students in different fields and learn more about their research.

This year’s judges included Dr. Ming Lei, Senior Associate Vice President in the Office of Research and Graduate Education and Vice Dean of Research in the School of Medicine; Rachel Morris, Ph.D. biology student in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Mikylah Myers, Associate Dean of Artistic and Scholarly Achievement in the College of Creative Arts; Patricia Slagel, Assistant Director of Advising and Student Operations of Graduate Programs in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics; and Dr. Daniel Totzkay, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

The internationally renowned 3MT competition, originally founded by the University of Queensland in Australia, challenges doctoral students to present their research topic and its significance in three minutes using a single PowerPoint slide.  Competitors develop academic, presentation and research communication skills while gaining experience pitching their research succinctly to a non-specialist audience. 

Grand Finale prizes include: 

  • First Place Prize: $1,000 
  • Second Place Prize: $750 
  • Third Place Prize: $500 
  • People’s Choice Prize: $250  

Read more about all ten grand finale finalists and learn more about the WVU 3MT Competition at  

For more information, contact Betty Mei at

 2024 3MT Competition Winners