Emma Schimke, PhD candidate, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Emma recently won the 2020 UQ 3MT Final under unprecedented circumstances. The 2020 UQ 3MT Competition was held completely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and competitors had to film their presentations and submit the videos.

Emma made it through the school, faculty and final heats and came out on top with her presentation, “To sleep or not to sleep?”.

How has participation in 3MT been beneficial to you?

Participating in the 3MT has assisted me to develop valuable presentation skills and has given me the opportunity to share my research with the wider community. I have learned how to communicate a summary of my thesis to a non-specialist audience in an engaging and accessible format. It has been a unique opportunity to present my entire thesis in just three minutes and an experience I have thoroughly enjoyed. I feel that the skills I have gained from the 3MT can be utilised in future situations when I may be required to ‘pitch’ my research or engage members of the public with the work I do. 

What has been some of the challenges of competing in 3MT in a virtual format? What are some of the benefits?

One of the challenges was not having a live audience when preparing my presentation in the virtual video format. I love presenting live and usually feed off the energy of a crowd. For me it was challenging to record the presentation and not immediately witness the reactions of the audience to gauge their interest and understanding.

One of the benefits has been developing the ability to convey my research in a video format, particularly given that video abstracts are becoming a more common way for researchers to communicate their research. Pre-recorded presentations are also becoming more common with the shift to virtual conferences in recent times.

I believe that another benefit of the virtual format has been that it has been easier for some members of the public to be able to watch the competition, when in previous years they may have been unable to travel into UQ. This may have resulted in the competition being viewed by a more diverse audience than usual and therefore my presentation may have reached more members of the public outside of the immediate UQ community.

What will you do with the prize money?

I think I will use it for a few purposes. One would be to assist me to attend and present at a conference, where I could share my research findings and network with other researchers. Another would be for professional development and assistance in building my skills in sleep-related research techniques. I had originally intended to undertake an international placement with a sleep research laboratory in the United States later this year. Although I am unable to undertake the placement due to the global pandemic, the prize money would be helpful to put towards further training in sleep research methods potentially in-country in the future. Finally, I also anticipate I would put part of the research grant towards funding extensions of my current research project. For example, I am very interested in exploring my research topic with clinical populations.