Search for Beryllium partner wins 3MT Competition

31 October 2014


3MT final: Pro Vice-Chancellor (Postgraduate) Professor Kay Weaver with 3MT runner-up Liam McMahon, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones, 3MT overall and People’s Choice winner Onyekachi Raymond, Waikato Regional Council chair Paula Southgate, runner-up Sripriya Somasekhar and University Council member Mervyn Dallas.

The 10 finalists were cool, calm and collected as they took to the stage to give their presentations at the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Each of the University of Waikato PhD students had three minutes and a static Power Point slide in which to explain their thesis to three judges and a full-house on Thursday 30 October at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.

Comedian Michele A’Court was MC for the event and described it as “brainy people talking very fast” to an “intelligent but non-specialist audience”. The presentations included turning blood-meal into foam packaging, solar flares, and reimagining disability.

Winner - Onyekachi Raymond

The winner was Onyekachi Raymond from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, whose presentation was entitled “The Beauty Without the Beast: A Chemical Search for Beryllium’s Partner”. Beryllium is an indispensable but toxic metal used in high-tech devices such as smartphones and computers. Raymond’s research looks at finding chemical agents that help remove beryllium from these products when they are disposed of.

From Nigeria, Raymond is now 18 months into his PhD in Chemistry at Waikato University.

“I was really excited to win the 3MT and I dedicate the prize to all my friends who gave me feedback on my presentation as I was preparing for the competition.”

Raymond took away $3000 and has secured a spot in the Trans-Tasman 3MT next year in Australia. He also won the People’s Choice Award, based on audience votes, of $500.

Runners-up winners

Two runners-up prizes, worth $1500, were awarded to Sripriya Somasekhar from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences  for her thesis presentation “Navigating safety in the context of immigration: Indian Women Experiencing Domestic Violence in New Zealand” and Liam McMahon from the Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences “Mathematics of Solar Flares”.

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Postgraduate) Professor Kay Weaver said she was incredibly proud to see what the PhD students presented on the night.

High standard

“The standard was so high the judges found it difficult to make a decision, so ended up awarding two runners-up prizes. The students are a huge credit to themselves and the University.”

3MT, supported by Prior Blackburn and the University of Waikato Foundation, is the highlight of the University’s Postgraduate Month in October. The event showcases research being carried out by the University’s PhD students. Presentations were judged on comprehension, engagement and communication by judges Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones, University Council member Mervyn Dallas and Chair of Waikato Regional Council Paula Southgate.

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