This semester the Physics and Astronomy Department sent a student to the finals of the Three Minute Thesis competition. Kavya Mukundan, a fellow astronomy graduate student, won at the departmental level and continued to the finals for our university, placing third and winning a scholarship to continue her important work on galaxy morphology.
In the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) contest, graduate students attempt to explain their research and its importance to a general audience (ie, non-experts) in only three minutes. This requires a very different sort of approach than most talks, where the emphasis is on details that other experts of the field may be interested in. Mrs. Mukundan practiced her talk specifically on non-physicists to be sure everyone could understand it. She believes it's a useful exercise for researchers in general, "I got to think about my research from different viewpoints. While it is true that we live in our own little academic bubble, reaching out to general people and letting them know why what we do is important is crucial. Because they are the people who decide the fate of scientific funding or policy. And as scientists, it’s our responsibility to make complex things simple for others. "
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Jacob Morgan is the PAGSA Information Manager/Astronomy Liaison and website editor.