Wit and wisdom win at USC’s thesis contest

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Wit and wisdom win at USC’s thesis contest


Published on 18 July 2014

USC's Three Minute Thesis competition final today took on a truly international flavour, with the winner hailing from Los Angeles and the runner-up from Oxford, England.

The rapid fire contest, which capped off USC’s annual Research Week, saw nine PhD students rise to the challenge of summarising complex projects in an engaging but brief fashion before a packed Innovation Centre auditorium.

First place and $1,000 in research funding went to Katryna Starks, a USC PhD student from the United States, for a dynamic presentation titled ‘Game Chang(h)er: Exploring the video game design elements that may impact the agency and identity of adolescent girls’.

“Now that video games are mainstream and people are spending so much time on them, there is a need for research into what the effects are,” Katryna said.

She said that while some previous studies had looked at video games and their possible links to crime or violence, her research would focus on female gamers, a demographic not yet adequately catered for in game design.

“I am researching ways that design elements in video games can create positive outcomes and enhance wellbeing for girls,” Katryna said.

Brevity was also one of the keys to success for the contest’s runner-up, Jennie Chandler from Oxford, who combined humour, science and succinctness in her presentation about her USC research, ‘Understanding masculinity in the spiny lobster’.

The PhD students’ presentations were followed by even shorter ones from 17 USC academics who presented their ideas in the fun but informative competition ‘A Minute to Win It – My Research in 60 Seconds’.

Associate Professor of Plant Science Stephen Trueman’s talk on ‘Rooting hormones’ was judged the best, in a session that featured topics ranging from urbanisation and evolution, to using biomass fuel to heat USC’s swimming pool.

The theme of USC’s Research Week was ‘Communicate, Collaborate, Celebrate – Research That Matters’. It featured more than 80 presentations across the fields of Arts, Health and Science.

– David Cameron



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