Attendees at Churchill MCR’s third annual two-minute thesis competition, ‘2MT’, were treated to a fascinating, high-energy event on Monday 20 November in the Wolfson Hall. Eleven of the College’s postgraduate students stepped up to the plate to explain their research to a general audience, with the help of one slide with no animations, in just two minutes!

The presenters were tasked with explaining to their audience what their research was about, why it was interesting, and what they had found. Since the event was aimed at a general audience, they were also asked to explain terminology, and avoid jargon. The lead organiser for this year’s competition was Celia Chen, a first year PhD student in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, who also completed her MRes at Churchill.

The 2MT is always a fan favourite, with fast-paced and enthusiastic presentations to capture the crowd’s attention. The two-minute time limit is no easy feat since participants must present their research as concisely as possible – which is an invaluable skill in research and communication. All of the speakers did a fantastic job and I was amazed at the quality of every presentation.

Competition prizes were awarded for the top three talks as well as a People’s Choice award. The financial prizes for this annual event have been made possible thanks to the generous support of Churchill alumnus Professor Raymond and Susan Williams.

The talks were judged by a panel comprising; the Vice-Master, Dr Adrian Barbrook, Churchill Fellows Professor Benedikt Löwe, Dr Ramit Debnath, Dr Elizabeth DeMarrais and Dr Rachel Thorley, and the MCR General Secretary, Santiago Agüí Salcedo.

Presentations were heard in rapid-fire succession from eight PhD and three Masters students. They covered a fascinating variety of research subjects from Theoretical Physics to Technology Management and Criminology. Once the presentations were completed the audience were also invited to take part by voting for their favourite presenter to decide the People’s Choice Award. Following a tense five minutes, the winners were announced.

First prize went to third year Medical Physics PhD, Katie-Lou White (G17), for her clear and engaging talk on ‘Multispectral Endoscopes: Seeing Cancer with Rainbows’. Second prize was awarded to John Mark Poole (G23), a Masters student in Computer Science, for his talk titled ‘Goldilocks and the (possibly) three complexity classes’, and third prize went to third year PhD Astronomy student Arnab Sarkar (G21), for his talk, ‘From stellar evolution to the emergence of life’. The People’s Choice award went to first year PhD Technology Management student Muhammed Nabil Satria Faradis, for his talk on ‘Business Model Innovation on Quantum Technology.’

Congratulations were also passed on to all the participants for so ably taking on the very difficult task of summing up their research in two minutes, to a general audience. The competition was followed by a MCR/SCR common table.

I was extremely honoured and surprised to be awarded first place. The other talks were of such an incredibly high standard that I never expected I would stand a chance. I figured I would be happy if everyone walked away just understanding a bit more about cancer, endoscopy and the limitations of cameras which mimic human vision. I certainly learned lots from the other presenters about lots of topics that I knew nothing about beforehand. It’s such a great event to take part in, and even just to watch; I’ll certainly come back to watch it next year!

Katie-Lou White (G17)

It was tremendous to get a brief taste of the great diversity of scholarship that is present within our MCR community. Distilling the essence of your academic study into a mere two minutes is no mean feat, but one which we felt all of the contributors achieved to a great extent. The clarity and enthusiasm for their subjects was something that came across really strongly and made choosing an ultimate winner a hard task.

Dr Adrian Barbrook, Vice-Master, Churchill College