*2022.March.9 update: We previously incorrectly stated that Dr. Nika Shakiba was a judge for the SBME 3MT Virtual Heat this year. This story has now been edited to reflect this.*

On March 3, 2022, UBC’s School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME) held its second annual Three Minute Thesis Heat (3MT). To a virtual audience of over 70 people, each of our 13 contestants presented their thesis in live, three minute talks accompanied by a single powerpoint slide.

Our contestants had to condense the entirety of their thesis research into a pitch that they could present in under three minutes. This is no easy feat, especially given that they could only support their talk with a single static slide that would represent the breadth and depth of their graduate thesis.

We had Dr. Nika Shakiba, Assistant Professor at the SBME, start the Heat with opening remarks. SBME’s judges for this year’s event were Dr. Jenna Usprech, Assistant Professor of Teaching at the SBME; and Lou Corpuz-Bosshart, Media Relations Specialist at the University of British Columbia.

Presentations were scored in two categories—Comprehension & Content, and Engagement & Communication—covering everything from subject knowledge and passion, to language and attention to audience. Any presentation that broke the three-minute ceiling lost marks before scores were averaged and each contestant was ranked.

This year, we had the privilege of hearing presentations on new research in life-altering cell-based treatments for allergies and cancer mutations, novel wearable technologies for traumatic brain injuries and rehabilitation, integrated bioengineering approaches to stem cells, and much more.

So without further ado, we’re proud to introduce the winners of SBME’s 2022 3MT Heat:


Cynthia Lam

1st Place | $500


Vivian Zhang

2nd Place | $300


Suliat Yakubu

3rd Place | $200

As with last year’s SBME 3MT Heat, the People’s Choice winner was another close call. Vivian Zhang narrowly eked out the win by a few votes.

What comes next?

The UBC Semi-finals will take place from March 8th to 9th, and the finalists from this heat will go onto the UBC 3MT Final. The UBC 3MT Final, which takes place over live-stream on March 30th, will see the finalists from across all UBC departments give their three-minute thesis one more go. UBC’s top presenter will compete in a Western Canadian final on May 6th that features all finalists from the Western provinces. The top presenters there go on to compete in a Canada-wide event.

Thank you to the organizers, our judges, SBME Assistant Professor Dr. Nika Shakiba for kicking off the event, and to all our student 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.

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 3mt.grad.ubc.ca.