That’s right; all they had was three minutes and a slide to speak to the breadth and depth of their graduate thesis.

SBME’s judges for the event were Dr. Nika Shakiba, Assistant Professor at the SBME; Dr Nozomu Yachie, Associate Professor at the SBME and CRC in Synthetic Biology; and Dr. Payam Zahedi, Strategic Planning & Operations Director for SBME.

Presentations were scored in two categories—Comprehension & Content, and Engagement & Communication—covering everything from subject knowledge and passion, to language and attention to audience. To avoid conflicts of interest, judges did not review presentations from students under their supervision, and any presentation that broke the three-minute ceiling lost marks before scores were averaged and each contestant ranked.

The audience had the privilege of excellent presentations on emerging technologies in cancer and cell research, novel approaches to bioinformatics in therapeutics, cellular engineering to bolster our immune systems, and much more.

But, as it is with all competitions, someone has to win.

So without further preamble, we give to you the winners of SBME’s 3MT Heat:


1st Place | $500


2nd Place | $300


3rd Place | $200

The People’s Choice race was neck-and-neck with Justin Wyss just edging out Alexi Michael by three votes.

What comes next?

All UBC Finalists will be announced on March 12th, with the UBC 3MT Final taking place over live-stream on March 31st. All semi-final videos will be posted in April. UBC’s top presenter will compete in a Western Canadian final featuring finalists from the Western provinces. The top presenters there go on to compete in a Canada-wide event.

Special thanks goes out to the organizers, our judges, SBME Associate Director, Dr. Karen Cheung for kicking off the event, and to all of the intrepid contestants who put their work to the test. Condensing a thesis project into a three minute presentation designed for a lay-audience is one of the most difficult things a student can do, so congratulations to everyone for having the courage to step forward and go for it.

Another special shout out to the University of Queensland for launching the 3MT program.

3MT at a Glance

3MT is an academic competition that challenges graduate students to explain their research project to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes. It was developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, and in the spring of 2011, UBC became one of the first universities in North America to host a 3MT® competition.

Learn all about 3MT at