Research Week 2021: Months of Research, Only Three Minutes

Nov 16, 2021
Brittany Berger at Research Week 2021

The concept of 3-Minute Thesis is straightforward – you have one topic, one static slide, the stage to yourself, and just three minutes on the clock to present months of your own research in an engaging and easy digestible manner that captivates the live audience. Simple enough, right?

At Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet), the 3-Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®) is one of the main events of Research Week. On Wednesday, November 3, ten Ross Vet DVM, MSc, and Ph.D. candidates took the stage in the Auditorium in front of their peers and faculty ready to wow them with the research they dedicated themselves to. Each student works with a faculty mentor on their presentation, attends various workshops to fine-tune their three-minute window, and rehearses with the other presenters to learn from each other and get a sneak peek of what the competition has prepared. In the end, the final product is as pressure-packed and competitive as can be thanks to the hard work and dedication of all ten participants - Brittany Berger (MSc by Research), Ninian Cameron-Blake (MSc by Research), Sara Cote (DVM Class of ’24), Daniel Guevara (DVM Class of ’23), Alexis Hall (DVM Class of ’23), Ailbhe King (MSc by Research), Maurice Matthew (PhD candidate), Maria Chardon Suarez (DVM Class of ’24), Samantha Valdes (DVM Class of ’24), and Sophie Yang (PhD candidate).

Daniel Guevara at Research Week 2021

Congratulations to Daniel Guevara, Brittany Berger, and Alexis Hall for taking home Research Week 2021’s 1st, 2nd, and People’s Choice awards, respectively.

“I definitely did not expect to win, but I am so grateful the judges chose me. After preparing and rehearsing with the others and seeing their amazing topics and confidence on stage, I knew it was going to be a very close competition,” said Guevara, whose presentation – Let’s Put Rabies on the Map! – set out to discover the areas within a community that the rabies virus is prevalent so that the public can see whether or not they are at a higher risk of encountering a rabies-positive animal based on where they live. “This topic is important to me because it raises public awareness and safety about a virus that they may not be aware of or see very often but is extremely dangerous,” Guevara continued. “My project is just an example of what can be done to help inform the public about safety and security about the environment they live in. If we continue to do that, then we can create a better co-existence between us and nature.”

Brittany Berger shared the sentiment as Daniel regarding her competitors, saying “All of the 3MT® speakers presented such wonderful projects. I feel so honored that my talk was chosen as runner-up because the competition was intense!” Berger's project – Don’t Monkey Around With Stress – originated when she fell in love with monkeys whi additional research work in Brazil and knew it was a population she wanted to continue to be close to when she came to Ross Vet. “The monkeys native to St. Kitts have become an increasingly important biomedical model, but there is less research on their specific enrichment preferences compared to other primates. I use biological parameters and behavioral observations to assess their stress levels and to see if introducing them to different types of enrichment can lower their stress. We can’t just assume an animal will like a particular activity; some enrichments could inadvertently increase their stress. Not all monkeys are alike, and the best practice is to promote species-specific enrichment. I hope my research guides biomedical facilities to choose and implement the best enrichment practices that work best for African Green Monkeys,” said Berger.

Alexis Hall at Research Week 2021

Joining Guevara and Berger as the final winner of 3MT® is Alexis Hall, selected as the People’s Choice winner voted on by the live audience. Her research – Solving Overpopulation, One Donkey at a Time - looks at a method of fertility control, called immunocontraception, in feral and semi-feral donkeys overpopulating Nevis. “Throughout my time as a research assistant, I’ve come to understand the importance of their overpopulation, specifically regarding the safety to people and their impact on the environment. Much of my presentation focused on the concept of overpopulation, but what really inspired me is the idea that we have an option to control fertility yet preserve the presence of these donkeys. Through the years, efforts to control animal overpopulation have varied in their efficacy, humaneness, and overall impact on each target species. However, we live in a modern era that can facilitate research and develop new approaches to reduce the numbers within a population without eliminating their presence. With goals of pursuing a career in the equine veterinary field, I’m very passionate about my opportunity to focus efforts on this species.”

Hall went on to beautifully sum up the entire experience, saying “the whole 3MT® experience was very rewarding. It improved my confidence, public speaking, and peer collaboration skills. Being selected for the People’s Choice award is an honor and it truly reflects the heart that I put into everything I do. The recognition inspires and motivates me to continue seeking opportunities to challenge myself and to encourage others to push themselves and reach for something that might be outside their comfort zone. It reminds me how thankful I am for the incredible mentorship I’ve received from our research team and professors throughout my time at Ross Vet. I’m proud to be a Rossie, to have the privilege to be studying the career I’ve always dreamed of, given the opportunities to try new things, and to the learn from the best, all while living on the beautiful island of St. Kitts.”

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