Mobile phones and smartwatches collect very specific, personal data about their users. But to what extent does the user retain legal control over the data generated by and stored on these devices?

UNSW Canberra PhD student Josephine Helen Dwan has taken out second prize at UNSW finals of the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition answering this question.

The Humanities and Social Sciences student succinctly described her research in a presentation entitled ‘The rise of intimate devices: Australian law and technology’.

As a research candidate used to writing longform papers, she said the process of condensing her project down to just three minutes and presenting it orally was a challenge, but ultimately rewarding.

“At first, it was hard for me to simplify my research and present it in a style that would be understood by a wider audience and in the context of a spoken presentation,” Josephine said.

“At the same time, it was a lot of fun to consider how a non-law audience may interpret my work and I really enjoyed sharing my research with the UNSW community. 

“I found I was able to think critically about my own work as well as my presentation style and methods. I learnt a lot from the experience.”

Josephine was one of 20 PhD candidates from across UNSW who made it into the 3MT finals this year.

Engineering student Krishneel Prakash also represented UNSW Canberra at the finals. His research provides a solution to improve the performance of modern power grids, reducing power outage issues.

Instead of presenting to an in-person audience, this year’s finalists submitted video entries. Their 3MT submissions are being celebrated online, and explore new frontiers in health, law and justice, sustainability, social policy, machine learning and psychology. 

The top prize of $3000 was awarded to Jodie Pestana, a UNSW Science student who explained the neurological changes caused by pregnancy.

Josephine received a cash prize of $1500. She said she was very proud to represent UNSW Canberra and the School of Humanities & Social Sciences.

“We have such excellent candidates at our campus undertaking fascinating and diverse research,” she said.

“To me, the prize is a testament to the fantastic work that takes place here at UNSW Canberra. I have been very honoured by the experience.”

To students thinking about entering next year’s competition, Josephine advises thinking critically about how your research benefits the wider community.

“Outside of an academic context, what can your research do for the world? If you can make your research relevant to the audience, they will be able to connect with your goals and outputs,” she said.

“My second piece of advice is much easier; have fun! The 3MT is a chance to try a different communication style, and the best way to try something new is to have fun doing it!”

This year’s presentations are now available online.