Feb. 14, 2023

UCalgary Three Minute Thesis ambassador pays it forward

A former 3MT competitor, grad student Chantelle Marie Anderson is co-host for 2023 UCalgary research competition finals
Graduate student Chantelle Marie Anderson
Graduate student and 2023 3MT co-host Chantelle Marie Anderson Chantelle Marie Anderson

As an Indigenous woman and the first person from either side of her family to go to university, Chantelle Marie Anderson believes in hard work and creating her own opportunities.

She maintains a 4.0 GPA in a Master of Science in biomedical engineering, works in a research lab focused on thermal imaging, and alongside her husband, juggles the busy life of parenting two preschool daughters.

Last year she was also a finalist in UCalgary’s 3MT communication research competition. You can watch her 3MT presentation.

What is the UCalgary Three Minute Thesis competition?

3MT, short for Three Minute Thesis, is a research communication competition hosted by UCalgary’s Faculty of Graduate Studies. This internationally recognized competition was started at the University of Queensland in 2008, and is now in its 11th year at UCalgary.

In the 3MT, thesis-based graduate students are tasked with explaining what they’re researching and why it matters. They must do this in three minutes, without reading notes and using only one static slide in the background, to an audience of non-specialists.

Making the most of the 3MT opportunity

When Anderson registered for last year’s 3MT, she felt strongly about the value of her research focused on identifying the thermal characteristics or patterns of infectious diseases, specifically COVID-19.

Yet she knew that having solid research was only half the battle; to secure funding and take her research to the next level, she’d have to pitch her work in a way that made stakeholders take notice.

Determined to use all the resources available in the UCalgary 3MT, Anderson attended workshops and one-on-one feedback sessions. She refined her slide, reviewed her talk, and practised, lots!

The major goal wasn’t necessarily to win; it was more to learn how to use the tools of 3MT to better my work and express my project in lay terms.

Ultimately, Anderson credits the 3MT competition for teaching her the skills she used to create a pitch for the 2022 Innovation 4 Health Hackathon, where she led her team to win Best in Category: Healthcare Devices.

Anderson recommends 3MT for all research-based graduate students, noting that “3MT is very helpful for making your research more accessible to everyone and learning how to summarize your work in an engaging way.”

Sharing research beyond the 3MT

As Anderson moves forward with her research, she draws strength from her Cree ancestry. Her paternal grandmother, Martha Anderson, is a Cree woman from the Onion Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

While Martha grew up as a victim of residential schools, Chantelle wants to contribute to a new narrative on education for Indigenous youth — in particular, for those in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.

To do this, Anderson teamed up with IndigeSTEAM, a STEM-focused Indigenous organization, to make a short film about youth and STEM. The film will culminate at a robotics powwow at the Telus World of Science in the spring of 2023.

“Views and perspectives are changing for Indigenous people in STEM, and I want to spread that message and lead by example,” she says.

Registration now open for 2023 UCalgary 3MT

Participating in the 3MT process has helped Anderson develop the confidence to be a mentor to her community and progress academically. She intends to apply to the PhD program in biomedical engineering where she will combine data from thermal and 3D full-body surface images to better understand diseases and health conditions.

Her goal is to develop health monitoring tools for early detection with a focus on providing accessible services in underserved communities.

As a supporter of 3MT, Anderson is looking forward to co-hosting UCalgary’s 3MT finals with Chancellor Jon Cornish on April 20. Watch for updates to see who finishes in the top 10 and who moves forward to represent UCalgary at the Western Regionals.

UCalgary’s 2023 3MT is open for registration to all thesis-based graduate students from Feb. 1 to March 1. Once registered, graduate students will have access to resources, workshops, one-on-one coaching sessions and more. Register now!

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