Taylor Ellis, center, with his supporters and 3MT coach Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell, associate professor of social work.


November 14, 2017

PhD student Taylor Ellis had three minutes to explain his research thesis in UA’s 2017 3MT®, or Three Minute Thesis, competition. UA students competed for the top prize in the competition Monday, Nov. 13.

The competition’s judges awarded Ellis second place and the People’s Choice Award for his talk titled “Healing Through Poetry: Writing Towards a Safer Community.”  Ellis’ win means he will go on to serve as UA’s alternate in the regional 3MT® competition. His advisor Dr. Debra Nelson-Gardell, associate professor of social work, was his 3MT® coach during the competition.

“Taylor had a great group of supporters at the event including his full-year three cohort, many other doctoral students and their family members, prospective PhD student visitors, and his very proud advisor,” said Dr. Brenda Smith, PhD director and associate professor of social work. “It was a wonderful night.”

Taylor received a $1,000 cash prize for his second place win and a $1,000 cash prize for the People’s Choice Award. He said he plans to use his winnings on his family and to attend a professional wrestling event in December. He and his wife are expecting a baby girl in February.

“Taylor’s work to prepare for the 3MT competition has quite literally paid off in prize money, but it has also paid off intellectually,” said Dr. Nelson-Gardell. “I watched him hone his research question, articulate his methods of inquiry, and explain the importance of his work. He did it ostensibly to win a competition — but more importantly it resulted in a clarity of thought and expression related to his planned research. I expect this clarity to pay off as he completes his dissertation research and beyond.”

The University of Alabama Graduate School hosts the annual 3MT® competition, which challenges graduate students to demonstrate their research and presentation skills concisely for cash prizes and travel grants.

About the 3MT® Competition

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition which challenges masters and PhD students to present a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance in just three minutes. 3MT® seeks to enhance the profile of graduate students both within university communities and the wider community. The competition is also a dynamic cross-disciplinary event. 3MT® develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports the development of research students’ capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. In 2008, the first 3MT® competition was held at the University of Queensland . Today, the competitions are held at more than 200 universities around the world, including nearly 40 universities in the U.S.