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UTokyo 2022 3MT competition results announced Grand prize awarded to Maximilien Berthet from the Graduate School of Engineering

August 10, 2022

Date of activity: July 29, 2022

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an international research communication competition, which challenges current Ph.D. students to present their work in under three minutes. Participants can only use one static slide and their explanation must be suitable for a nonspecialist audience.

This year, the University of Tokyo held its fourth 3MT competition on July 29. After a process of elimination and preparation, 16 finalists recorded their video presentations for the virtual event, covering a broad range of fascinating topics from greening deserts and sustainable food consumption, to managing urban heritage and remote workplace communication.

Maximilien Berthet stands in front of a white wall as he delivers his 3MT presentation, in a screenshot from his YouTube video.
UTokyo student Maximilien Berthet in his winning 3MT presentation, speaks about new ways of using sails inside small satellites to help them move.

Three judges volunteered for the task of deciding the grand prize winner and runner-up: Diane Gubatanga, last year’s UTokyo 3MT grand prize winner from the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences at UTokyo; Project Associate Professor Euan McKay, from the Public Relations and Funding Division at Kobe University; and Professor Ken Ishii, from the Division of Vaccine Science, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Institute of Medical Science at UTokyo.

After watching the videos independently and then coming together to deliberate their final choices, the judges awarded this year’s grand prize to Maximilien Berthet from the Graduate School of Engineering, for his presentation “Sailing satellites, pushed by the air and the sun.” Judge McKay said, “We really enjoyed this presentation and the speaker managed to make something very complex seem simple. Max was able to condense his thoughts and make it really easy for the audience to follow. He produced a good story with a relatable personal touch and real-world examples.”

The runner-up prize was awarded to Mika Hayashi from the Graduate School of Science, for her presentation “Deciphering our DNA through the lens of AI.” Judge Gubatanga said, “Mika presented her research in a clear way, with a very nice analogy. She also told a well-considered story.”

UTokyo account members had two weeks to cast their ballot for the People’s Choice Award. After tallying the votes, the clear favorite was Kyungjin Kim from the Graduate School of Engineering, with his presentation “Estimating the response of damage concentrated floor without sensor.” Commenting on his presentation, McKay said: ”It was excellent for the clear and simple statement of the problem, and the delivery was very friendly and engaging.”

The judges found it difficult to choose between this year’s entries and congratulated all the participants, who delivered professional and highly engaging presentations. As Gubatanga said, “Everyone did a really good job of conveying their research well and we could feel their passion. If you have this ability, I think you will become a very good researcher in the future.” McKay added that, “They all had a really good story. They got the idea of describing the problem, process, future and impact. I was really, really impressed.”

Screenshot of participants at the 2022 UToyko zoom final and awards ceremony.
Participants at the virtual 2022 UTokyo Final and Awards Ceremony.

Speaking about the benefits of research communication and 3MT, aside from the chance to win research funds, McKay said: “Every time we explain something to someone else, it helps us. When you explain what you are doing, it really helps you to understand your own ideas. It’s important to share knowledge with other people so they can make use of it, but it is also equally important for the researchers themselves. Also, audience awareness is just a useful life skill.”

The UTokyo 3MT competition has now ended, but the grand prize winner will go on to represent the university at the 2022 Virtual Asia Pacific 3MT Semi-Final on September 26.

Videos of the winners’ presentations and all final entries can be viewed on UTokyo’s YouTube channel.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. Launched in 2008, it is now held in over 900 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide.

Comments from the winners

What is it like taking part in 3MT? What advice do this year’s winners have to offer the next generation of participants? We asked Max, Mika and Kyungjin to tell us a bit more about the competition from their perspective.

Maximilien Berthet (Grand Prize)

Profile photo of Maximilien Berthet, smiling.

What was the best thing about participating in UTokyo’s 3MT?

In my case, it was the event that I joined during the process, the communication workshop. It was a nice chance to learn about techniques and have a framework. Previously, I had learned about public speaking based on experience and hearsay. So the workshop gave me a formal grounding and reframed some of the concepts I had in mind and connected some of the dots. It was also nice to meet other researchers from other graduate schools and see what they are working on. It was eye opening that I’m not the only one struggling to condense my research and convey it to a nonspecialist audience! And then preparing the video was very interesting and challenging. The final output was totally different to the initial plan I had in mind.

How do you think you might use this experience in the future?

I guess there are two parts. One is the process of participating and the other is the output. Similar to what I mentioned already, in terms of the process, it really gave me more concepts to structure my thoughts about sci com and public speaking. And it gave me more tools to add to my toolbox, to prepare for conferences or events, or being able to talk to a friend in a way that doesn’t alienate them. And second, having won the (grand prize) award, it is a huge honor to be part of the 3MT community and to represent UTokyo in this community — taking on this responsibility and thinking beyond my own research, how I can use this as a way to promote the internationalization of the university. Also, a challenge to overcome my own shyness and help others to try to do the same. Winning the prize is not an end point but more of a start point.

Do you have any advice for other students who might consider taking part?

Perhaps, just that you’ll never be ready. It will always be possible to postpone or find some excuse. Like maybe next year or I don’t have time. It’s possible to postpone indefinitely! So why wait? Go for it now. It’s always possible to compare yourself to others and feel they are more skilled and I’m not as good, but especially in public speaking, it’s often about personality, so you don’t need to compare. Believe in yourself, your own originality and what you can bring to the table that others might not bring. Go for it!

Mika Hayashi (Runner-up Award)

Profile photo of Mika Hayashi, smiling.

What was the best thing about participating in UTokyo’s 3MT?

The opportunity to put myself out there was really nice. I don’t really do that much. Usually, it’s just come to school and work in the lab every day, so a lot of my correspondence with others is just with people in the lab or with collaborators and friends through messages and emails. I particularly really enjoyed the workshop. It was really nice to meet other people from across the university, as the only new people I usually meet are new members to the lab.

How do you think you might use this experience in the future?

It has definitely improved my presentation skills, especially if I ever have to explain something to somebody who doesn’t have any prior knowledge of it. I think it has helped me to start developing a way of thinking of the bare bones or bare basics of what I’m doing. And sure, it would help in my academic career for going and giving presentations, but it could also even in daily life, with friends, if I want to express what I’m thinking or give an opinion. Maybe regular conversations will go more smoothly as well!

Do you have any advice for other students who might consider taking part?

I think if you have any little bit of interest at all in participating, you should go for it. It is a time commitment, it did take a lot of time and effort, but even if you don’t win anything you learn a lot about your research and your own communication skills, and it’s a great way to meet other people. Just do it!

Kyungjin Kim (People’s Choice Award)

Profile photo of Kyungjin Kim, smiling.

What was the best thing about participating in UTokyo’s 3MT?

The best thing during preparing was that it helped me to realize the concept and important parts of my research. And it helped me think more about being more understanding of other people who are nonprofessionals, because I can’t really use jargon. By preparing for this 3MT competition, it really helped me to choose the words carefully and more deeply think about how and what I am doing again.

How do you think you might use this experience in the future?

I think this experience will help us with all kinds of other experiences, because (as I mentioned) explaining to nonprofessionals is much harder than explaining to professionals in my field. So, I think this competition and presentation will help me with all kinds of other presentations. And the gestures and things I learned were really exciting and really got me more into presentation. So, I think the 3MT challenge was one of the biggest experiences of my life. Having to think about how my specific part in science can help people in the world in general was really fun.

Do you have any advice for other students who might consider taking part?

I think applying is the hardest thing. So whether you can pass the first round or not, just get into it, just take a chance!

 

UTokyo 3MT 2022 contestants and their presentations

Yuzu Kobayashi (Graduate School of Frontier Sciences): How water molecules split into hydrogen and oxygen
Siyu Li (Graduate School of Engineering): Jam-absorption driving: A state-of-the-art approach to relieve traffic jams at freeway bottleneck.
Chi-Lan Yang (Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies): Investigating the effect of augmented social cues on impression formation in remote workplace communication
Bryan John J. Subong (Graduate School of Science): Let's DANCE: COVID-19's dancing proteins
Yinglei Wu (Graduate School of Engineering): Promotion of Sustainable Food Consumption
Shintaro Seki (Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology): The new possibilities for Japanese sheet music brought by digitization
Ayumi Tanke (Graduate School of Medicine): Birth Mindfully! The first steps of establishing mindfulness-based childbirth and parenting programs in Japan
Richie Thomas Plummer (Graduate School of Frontier Sciences): Next generation disease modeling
Mizuki Ogasawara (Graduate School of Engineering): High-resolution dating of ore deposits in Japan for elucidating metal resource forming factors in plate boundaries
Maximilien Berthet (Graduate School of Engineering): Sailing satellites, pushed by the air and the sun
Mika Hayashi (Graduate School of Science): Deciphering our DNA through the lens of AI
Masahiro Araki (Graduate School of Engineering): Evacuate or not? Findings from behavior data analysis
Kaixin Li (Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences): Nip coronavirus pandemic in the bud
Keiichi Kimura (Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences): Greening with the tough microbes
Kah Hui Lee (Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology): Managing urban heritage: Local shopping streets as everyday heritage
Kyungjin Kim (Graduate School of Engineering): Estimating the response of damage concentrated floor without sensor

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