PhD students from Health excelled with their exciting research

With a single slide and only three minutes available, five PhD students from Health recently presented their research to an enthusiastic audience and an experienced jury at the annual Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT).

Healths participants at 3MT 2024 were Tora Haug, Lina Münker, Layla Pohl, Malthe Jessen og Irina Palimaru Manhoobi.
Healths participants at 3MT 2024 were Tora Haug, Lina Münker, Layla Pohl, Malthe Jessen og Irina Palimaru Manhoobi. Photo: Simon Fischel, AU Health.

Present your research in three minutes and using just one PowerPoint slide to a large audience with no knowledge of your field of research. It sounds like a lot. Nevertheless, this was the challenge five PhD students from Health faced when they participated in 3MT 2024 on 13 March.

The first person on stage at the sold-out event in Stakladen is Omeed Neghabat. He is the host of the evening and winner of the 2022 competition. In fact, he didn't just win the 3MT final at AU, he also won the international final with PhD students from educational institutions all over the world. He is a medical doctor and PhD student at the Department of Clinical Medicine.

Following an introduction of the jury for the evening and the main prize – a travel grant of DKK 35,000 – the first of a total of 20 brave PhD students takes to the stage.

Daniel Strack from the Department of Mechanical and Production Engineering begins his presentation, while a big clock is counts down from three minutes. It is important to keep calm and use clear and precise language, because if the clock strikes zero before the presentation is over, the PhD student will be disqualified.

A rewarding communication process

The research projects from the 20 PhD students are wide ranging and cover everything from the level of protein in the diet of pregnant sows to how children with rheumatoid arthritis perform in school compared to their peers.

Malthe Jessen is behind the latter project. He is a third-year PhD student at the Department of Public Health, and he has recently been through an intensive communication process focusing on presentation techniques and research communication.

"I signed up for the competition, because I wanted more tools for good and precise communication. And I also thought that being on stage in Stakladen and presenting my project to everyone sounded like a great challenge. We started with a three-hour workshop on how to put together a good presentation, and then we met several times to improve our presentations," says Malthe Jessen.

He believes that his participation in 3MT 2024 has given him a lot of useful knowledge about effective research communication.

"During the process, I became very focused on what exactly I wanted to tell the audience about my research. Three minutes really isn't a long time when you're up there on stage and the spotlights are pointing at you, so I've gained a whole new awareness of how I move around and behave while presenting," says Malthe Jessen.

About 3MT

3MT is short for ‘Three Minute Thesis' and it is an international competition in which PhD students have three minutes to present their research projects.

A jury selects the winner of the evening, who then gets the opportunity to possibly proceed to the international competition. This year, the international competition will be in Turku, Finland, on 6 June.

This is the sixth time 3MT has been in Aarhus. The competition comes from Australia, where it has been held since 2008, and it is held in 85 countries worldwide.

The winner of the 3MT competition at Aarhus University receives a travel grant of DKK 35,000.

The evening's jury consisted of:

Read more about the event and see more photos from 3MT 2024 on Aarhus University's website.

And the winner is...

In addition to Malthe Jessen , Health mustered Tora Haug from the Department of Clinical Medicine, Lina Münker from the Department of Clinical Medicine, Layla Pohl from the Department of Biomedicine and Irina Palimaru Manhoobi from the Department of Clinical Medicine.

After all 20 PhD students have presented their projects, it is time for the jury and the audience to vote. The evening culminates when a very happy Eva Kjærgaard from the Department of Chemistry is presented with a large bouquet of flowers and this year's “people’s prize”.

She delivered the audience's favourite presentation on plastic pollution in the air and explained how plastic particles spread in the air via ocean spray and end up in people's lungs. Soon after, Eva Kjærgaard is called back to the stage when Vice-dean Niels Mejlgaard announces her as the jury favourite.

Eva Kjærgaard is thus this year's recipient of a travel grant of DKK 35,000 and will get the opportunity to possibly proceed to the international finale in Finland on 6 June. If she wins in Finland, it will be the third year in a row that a PhD student from AU wins the international competition. In 2022, Omeed Neghabat from the Department of Clinical Medicine won, while Ida Cecilie Jensen from the Department of Ecoscience won in 2023.

"Obviously, you don't sign up for a competition like this if you don't want to win, so I was a little annoyed when Eva was announced as the winner," says Malthe Jessen and continues:

"But it was well earned, and the competitive factor quickly faded into the background, because it was an awesome evening with strong support and a good atmosphere all the way round. I would definitely recommend all PhD students to sign up for the competition next year, if you have the slightest interest in improving your communication skills and getting a unique opportunity to challenge yourself."


PhD student Malthe Jessen
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine