Auburn School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences graduate student Summia Rahman wins university’s Three Minute Thesis competition

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Auburn University School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences graduate student Summia Rahman recently won the university’s Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT, competition. Rahman will advance to represent Auburn at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools’ Three Minute Thesis regional competition in February in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Developed by the University of Queensland in Australia, the 3MT competition tasks graduate students with presenting their research in three minutes to a general audience. They are judged by a five-member panel on several areas related to comprehension, engagement and communication.

Rahman’s presentation, “Sustainable Food Packaging for a Future World,” focused on her research to create ecofriendly food packaging paper that replaces often-used paper containing toxic chemicals, such as perfluorochemicals, with natural ingredients like nanocellulose.

She describes the 3MT competition as an incredible journey.

“The most valuable part of the competition was learning to focus on my thoughts and presenting my research work technically, yet in an easy-to-understand way for general audiences, as well as scholars from other fields,” said Rahman.

Competitors must follow guidelines limiting them to using a single static PowerPoint slide during their presentation. The use of electronic media or props is not permitted.

“This is a great honor for our school. Summia was prepared and competed well,” said Daowei Zhang, who serves as an Alumni Professor, the George W. Peake Professor of Forest Economics and Policy and as the school’s associate dean of research. “She is courageous and serves as a role model for all of our graduate students in research and research communication.”

Rahman believes that unlocking this milestone will help her become a better communicator and independent scholar in her future career.

“I wanted to participate in the 3MT competition to hone my presentation skills and banish my fear of speaking in public,” Rahman said.

“Participating in the regional competition will be a whole new experience to uncover. I am planning to have good preparation for the upcoming event so that I can effectively convey my research and my story to a broader audience.”

Summia has a long-term goal of establishing a career in academia, according to Yucheng Peng, Rahman’s major advisor and assistant professor of sustainable packaging and bioproducts in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.

“I hope during this preparation process and the competition, she will gain precious experience to move forward with her career goal,” Peng said. “I also hope she can make a mark in the regional competition, delivering a meaningful message for Auburn’s sustainable biomaterials and packaging research and degree programs. I’m very proud of her for participating in this kind of activity to challenge herself. The dedication and effort required to compete on this level is impressive.”

Rahman also took home the People’s Choice award, while Ja’Lia Taylor, a doctoral student in the College of Education, was awarded the runner-up for her presentation on the “Effects of Virtual Coaching on Preschool Teacher Practices.”

(Written by Gracen Carter)

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