Iowa State Graduate School hosts second 3 Minute Thesis Competition

Graduate student Alex Wrede presents his thesis on the impact of micro bubbles on traumatic brain injuries at Iowa State University Graduate College’s second annual 3 Minute Thesis Competition on Monday evening.

Jillian Alt

Time is up!

Today the Iowa State University Graduate School hosted its second annual 3 Minute Thesis competition, and the winner is Alex Wrede. 

Participants have three minutes to present their thesis in layman’s terms in a way that is creative, interesting and understandable. If they go one second over the three minute limit, they are disqualified.

Competitors are allowed a single static powerpoint slide – no audio, no video, no animations 

The competition is separated into five preliminary heats and a total of 43 competitors. Three judges determine the top two presenters from each heat, and the final ten go to the final round, held at 5 p.m. in 2200 Marston Hall. 

The final round judges panel included Nancy Boettger from the Board of Regents, Mayor of Ames Ann Campbell and Des Moines Register Columnist Kathie Obradovich. 

“Three minutes goes by so fast,” Boettger said. “It’s so impressive that they can get all that information across in layman’s terms.”

The finalists today were as follows (in no particular order)

  1. Alex Wrede – mechanical engineering
  2. Carla Mann – genetics, development & cell biology
  3. Jeba R Jesudoss Chelladurai – veterinary pathology
  4. Anuraag Boddupalli – chemical & biological engineering
  5. Leslie Dooley – human development and family studies
  6. Breanna Marmur – natural resource ecology and management
  7. Lauren Laboissonniere – genetics, development & cell biology
  8. Viraj Muthye – ecology, evolution and organismal biology
  9. Vivek Lawana – biomedical sciences
  10. Jacob Pleasants – education

The winner today was Wrede who received $500 and will be fully funded to travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan, for the regional competition on April 6. 

Wrede’s thesis was on Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI’s) – such as PTSD, Alzheimer’s and Concussions – and the activation of micro bubbles.

“These micro bubbles also form in the propeller of a boat,” Wrede said. “Over time the formation and collapse of these micro bubbles leads to significant wear on the steel foundation of a propeller. If micro bubbles can wear away steel, it is alarming to realize the damages it can have on vulnerable brain tissue.” 

His research aimed at the creation of micro bubbles in order to help create better medication for treating TBI’s, as well as contribute to other advancements like football helmets that would prevent micro bubbles from forming.

Lawana received $250 for being runner-up, and the people’s choice went to Boddupalli who also received $250.

The final round was livestreamed on youtube here: