3 Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition that showcases UNSW’s innovative PhD candidates, who have just 3 minutes to explain their world-changing research and why it is important.


2021 Winners

First Place: Jodie Pestana, A Mother’s Brain: A Lifelong Journey

Runner Up: Josephine Helen Dwan, The Rise of Initmate Devices: Australian Law and Technology

Joint Third Place: Gwendolyn Foo, E-waste is like a box of chocolates and Shuo Yang, Reforming corporate governance laws of Chinese non-profit nursing homes

ASPIRE Winner: Kristina Ulm, Veggies in verges - Growing food on footpaths awarded by Liverpool Boys High School

People’s Choice: Shuo Yang, Reforming corporate governance laws of Chinese non-profit nursing homes

Highly Commended: Hui (Helen) Pang, Can Investor-State Arbitration Compel States to Mitigate Climate Change? and Praveen Indraratna, TeleClinical Care


portrait picture of Liza Mare Syron
What an exciting time for research in Australia. So many amazing thesis projects. The passion of our researchers to provide innovative responses to societal challenges shows me that we are in the hands of competent and thoughtful future leaders.

Liza-Mare Syron

Scientia Senior Lecturer

Portrait picture of Robyn Williams
It’s always a privilege to hear tomorrow’s intellectual talent. The science is there, and so is the passion. But there is also the argument, WHY this is important! From the politics of energy to the understanding of the sense of touch, from veggies on verges, to the handling of E-waste.

Robyn Williams

Science journalist

Watch the 2021 3MT talks

Veggies in verges - Growing food on footpaths - Kristina Ulm

How can we grow food along streets, on verges and footpaths, successfully? Examining policy as a barrier or enabler towards healthy and sustainable cities.

Lost, Found and Flourishing - Bosheng Jing

My PhD is a longitudinal study to see how short-term impacts of the Personalised English Language Enhancement (PELE) course at UNSW are translated in students’ lives after PELE over 18 months by using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach.

How to empower female students to be successful professionals in the Indonesian construction industry - Christina Liem 

The research identifies five crucial stakeholders and the expected actions to empowering female students to solve the professional shortage in the Indonesian construction industry.

Reforming corporate governance laws of Chinese non-profit nursing homes - Shuo Yang

The research aims to help the Chinese non-profit nursing home achieve good governance and accountability by reforming the corporate law, which will, in turn, be beneficial to broad stakeholders, particularly to the aged people. 

Aligning values of cultural heritage and transnational criminal law - Diogo Machado

My research addresses transnational cultural heritage crimes through the alignment of values (goals, priorities and background assumptions) of cultural heritage and transnational criminal law

Can Investor-State Arbitration Compel States to Mitigate Climate Change? - Hui (Helen) Pang

By connecting essential concepts in international investment law with climate change law, investor-state arbitration could be used to compel states not to backtract from their previous commitments to transit to clean energy consumption.

The Rise of Initmate Devices: Australian Law and Technology - Josephine Helen Dwan

This project investigates the relationship between the Australian legal system and intimate devices and how, by extension, control can be exercised by users over the data collected and stored on their intimate devices.

Intelligent control strategies for modern power grids - Krishneel Prakash

This research provides a solution to improve the performance of modern power grids and reduce power outage issues

A Mother's Brain: A Lifelong Journey - Jodie Pestana

Once a mother, always a mother: The long-term effects of motherhood on brain regions related to anxiety and the response to anxiety treatments.

Re-Scripting Mental Imagery in OCD - David Cooper

Can we help to change the mental images that provoke compulsive rituals for people who live with OCD?

On the Ori-gene of Species - Allegra Angeloni

Understanding how our genes are expressed through our most distant animal relatives.

A Gift of Life: Every HEART Matters! - Ranita Kirubakaran

A dosing support tool for tacrolimus, a critical drug for successful outcomes in heart transplant recipients.

TeleClinical Care - Praveen Indraratna

A smartphone app-based model of care to help people with heart disease. 

Restoring Sense of Touch - Hafiz Malik Naqash  Afzal

Understanding the mechanisms of touch sense in humans to restore sense of touch to the amputees and patients with sensory loss of touch

A Bridge to the Past: Identifying Dementia Risk - Annette Spooner

Overcoming the challenges of applying machine learning to clinical data in order to identify those at risk of developing dementia.

E-waste is like a box of chocolates - Gwendolyn Foo

An intelligent robotic system for dismantling electronic waste products for reuse or recycling.

Into the unknown: machine learning with logical reasoning - Xuesong Wang

Enable logical reasoning for machine learning algorithms to adapt to unknown tasks.

The hardest thing of all to see is what is really there: On the hidden power of algorithms - Maria George

A study highlighting why and how the use of algorithmic decision making systems in the public sector sometimes causes unintended negative societal consequences.

A recipe for communicating change - Phong Nguyen

My research offers a communication recipe that guides managers to deliver excellent communication during the progress of organizational change.

Longevity risk: retirement product innovation and risk management strategies - Doreen Kabuche

My  thesis is about designing new retirement products to manage longevity risk and other financial risks at old ages, such as market and health risks. 

Our 2021 Judges

Liza-Mare is currently an Indigenous Scientia Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and Media at UNSW. She is widely published in the field of Indigenous performing arts, and her current research project focuses on the role of theatre in the revitalisation of native languages. She is a founding member of Moogahlin Performing Arts, and as a key member of the company’s Artistic Directorate for over ten years has recently been appointed Senior Artistic Associate. Her work history includes; Indigenous Research Fellow at Macquarie University, Senior Aboriginal Cultural Development Officer for Arts NSW, and Head of Theatre Performance at the Eora College for Aboriginal Studies, Centre for Visual and Performing Arts in Redfern. 

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Science journalist and broadcaster Robyn Williams presents ABC Radio National’s The Science Show (since 1975) and Ockham’s Razor. He has conducted countless interviews with scientists on ABC TV on programs such as Quantum and Catalyst, narrated the Nature of Australia series and appeared in World Safari with David Attenborough.

Outside the ABC, Robyn has served in various capacities, including president of the Australian Museum Trust, chairman of the Commission for the Future, and president of the Australian Science Communicators. In 1997, he was proclaimed a National Living Treasure.

In 1993, Robyn was the first journalist elected as a Fellow Member of the Australian Academy of Science. He was appointed AM in the 1988 Australian Bicentenary honours list, then AO in this year’s honours. He has seven honorary doctorates from Australian universities,

He is deputy chair of the Australian Science Media Centre.

Robyn has written more than 10 books, the latest being TURMOIL, Letters from the Brink (2019). 

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Dr Sarah Pearce has been with CSIRO for 10 years as the Deputy Director of CSIRO Astronomy & Space Science.

She became the third female Chief Scientist of CSIRO in January 2021.

After completing her PhD in Physics, Dr Pearce was a senior science advisor in the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, where she gained an understanding of how science can come together with policy to create impact.

At CSIRO, Dr Pearce led engagement in the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project and was Australia’s science representative on the negotiating team for the SKA Treaty.

In 2020, she was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, was named NSW Business Woman of the Year, and Executive of the Year at the 2020 Australian Space Awards.

She is a Superstar of STEM and an advocate for women in science and technology. 

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