3 Minute Thesis

2:59 … 58 … 57 … as soon as the clock starts every word counts. Three Minute Thesis or 3MT was originally developed at the University of Queensland in Australia and now has spread throughout the world. This competition challenges participants from any discipline to present their entire thesis in under 3 minutes. No props or costumes. A single powerpoint slide with no animations. And the objective of conveying your project to a generalist audience in just 3 minutes.

In November 2016, I won first place in College of Charleston’s 3MT competition for my project entitled, “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Community-Based Management of the Crown-of-Thorns Seastar (Acanthaster planci) in Romblon, Philippines.” Next month, I will be traveling to Annapolis, Maryland to enter in the National 3MT Competition.

Check out my video above for a sneak preview of my talk. And please feel free to comment with suggestions, feedback or encouragement.

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My official thesis defense, an hour long presentation with questions, at the College of Charleston.
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My official Master of Science degree.

Unfortunately, COTs cannot be eaten (their backs are covered in venomous spines) and using them for compost would require the labor-intensive task of transporting heavy loads of dead, decaying COTs to farmland, which is unrealistic when cow poop can serve the same purpose and is already there. The easiest solution was simply to bury the COTs in the sand as soon as we reached shore.

Another option for eradication in places with access to scuba diving is injection with vinegar which paralyzes the COT and causes it to decay in 24-72 hours. Or if you live in Australia a COT-fighting robot may already be patrolling your reefs. Without a robot or scuba gear in the municipalities of Romblon, Philippines we opted for the by hand method, which allowed fisherfolk to pick up two sticks from the side of the road and then hop in the water to start collecting COTs.

Below you can watch my training video on how to remove COTs with footage I took using my GoPro during our removals.

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5 thoughts on “3 Minute Thesis”

    1. Good question! The problem is actually a bit more complex than can be conveyed in a 3 minute talk. Overfishing of predators is likely a major cause of these outbreaks and this includes large wrasse, pufferfish, and triton snails which feed on adult COTs as well as small damselfish and invertebrates which may feed on larval COTs. Better management of fisheries can help to address this imbalance. Marine protected areas, when properly enforced, have lower rates of COT outbreaks. A secondary cause of outbreaks is enhanced larval survival due to elevated water nutrient levels. This may be anthropogenically induced or could be the result of heavy rain and flooding that carries more organic matter from riverbanks into the ocean. It is a complex problem making it difficult to address the source, which is why communities often find themselves responding to existing outbreaks.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I know it is hard to manage the fishing industry in the Philippines, especially since there are illegal fishers, illegal fishing practices, and big boats depleting stocks. And I don’t know you can prevent heavy rains. Good luck with the rest of your research!

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