ESSM Awards & Merits 2014 Matt Berg - 3-Minute Thesis Competition Matt Berg, PhD student in ESSM, recently took home second place in the first annual Texas A&M University 3-Minute Thesis competition. The 3-Minute Thesis was launched in 2008 at The University of Queensland in Australia to challenge graduate students to present their research in compelling three-minute talks. Competitions are now held in 12 countries around the world. Matt accepted the task improve his communication skills. “You really don’t understand your research until you can reduce it to the nuts and bolts and share that with a non-technical audience while driving home the importance of what you’re doing,” said Matt. “It’s also a great chance to get a taste for the other outstanding research on campus way outside of my discipline.” Participants were allowed only a single slide to support their presentation, and any talk going over the three-minute limit was disqualified. “I really had to get my timing down. Getting the most important points into just three minutes forces you to think. I probably rehearsed a couple dozen times,” said Matt. All competitors presented their talks in a preliminary round judged by faculty members from many different departments, and Matt was one of six selected to compete in the finals. His talk was titled Long-Term Changes of Dynamic Rangelands and Impacts on Water Resources and is available for viewing through the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies. In addition to receiving a cash prize, Matt said the experience was invaluable in improving his communication skills. “I’m not always going to communicate with experts and other scientists. Especially in an age when science is facing challenges in funding and public support, it’s even more important that I can explain the value and necessity of my research. The 3MT competition helped me keep sharp and ready to explain my work.” More information on the recent competition can be found in a recent edition of TAMUTimes.