20 Finalists from graduate schools throughout Japan competed in a three-minute speech competition to present their research in an easy-to-understand manner to a public audience.
The 8th annual HIRAKU 3MT (Three Minute Thesis) Competition 2022 took place as a hybrid event on November 23, 2022. Retrospectively, the first 3MT Competition was held in 2008 at Queensland University in Australia. 3MT started to grow in 2011 and there are now over 900 universities in 85 countries in the world that hold it. In Japan, 3MT has been held by HIRAKU as represented by Hiroshima University since 2015 and Springer Nature has supported 3MT in Japan since 2017.
HIRAKU stands for “Home for Innovative Researchers and Academic Knowledge Users”, which also means “Cultivate and Open” in Japanese and indicates “a platform where local players work together in harmony for opening the future.” HIRAKU Driving Global Impact （hereinafter referred to as "HIRAKU-Global) was indicated in the documents of MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) regarding its project for “Strategic Professional Development for Young Researchers” when Hiroshima University was selected by MEXT as an organization that implements the MEXT project in 2019. In the background of this MEXT project, Japan's international standing in terms of the number of publications has been declining both qualitatively and quantitatively. In order for Japan to strengthen its research capabilities in the midst of a declining population, there is an urgent need to improve the research productivity of researchers. One of the goals of this project was to support universities and research institutes that promote the strategic development of outstanding researchers by establishing an organized system for fostering researchers, not on a laboratory basis, but on an organizational basis, such as a support system for publishing papers in the world's top journals and obtaining overseas research funds. This is why Springer Nature has supported an HIRAKU event.
Participating in 3MT helps develop academic, presentation and research communication skills and spreads the social understanding of the quality of doctoral students and their doctoral thesis. In addition, 3MT finalists have benefited from invitations to a networking event following their participation in the competition, which provides an excellent networking and professional development opportunity.
In this competition, total of 20 doctoral students, 10 candidates from each of the Japanese Division and the English Division, were screened out of 69 applicants from 18 universities in the qualifying rounds, presented the vision and appeal of their research in three minutes and to a non-specialist audience. The winners of each of the Japanese Division and the English Division as well as of the Audience Award and the Springer Nature Movie Award are as follows:
The winner of both the Japanese Division and the Springer Nature Award was Ms. Fumika Oe of the Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences at Nagoya University for her presentation titled, “STOP Global Warming by Methane-Eating Bacteria”.
Ms. Fumika Oe commented:
”I am very honored to be selected as the winner of the Springer Nature Award and first prize in the Japanese Division. My manuscript was checked by my supervisor and lab member, so I thought all I had to do was to practice. However, when researchers from other fields listened to my presentation, they pointed out that the keyword “methane” was difficult to understand. Therefore, I solved it by increasing the explanations in the introduction. I think researchers must do outreach to and. Because of that, I will continue my outreach to realize “STOP Global Warming by Methane-Eating Bacteria” by utilizing this successful experience of the 3MT.”
The winner of both the English Division and the Audience was Mr. Jason Braga of the Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life at Hiroshima University for his presentation titled, “A food to Remember”.
Mr. Jason Braga commented:
"I am very humbled and honored to be awarded as a People’s Choice awardee and selected as the winner of the 3MT English division. Not only that, I received the Otsuka Award. Everything about the competition still felt surreal. I was ecstatic upon reading the audience comments because they understood the idea and purpose of our research – which is the goal of the competition to translate our research activities using simple terms. I want to thank my supportive supervisor, Dr. Thanutchaporn Kumrungsee, and the Philippine-Hiroshima University Student Organization for believing and supporting me that I can do well in the competition. I will be forever grateful to the 3MT organization for allowing me to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Maraming Salamat!"
Continued the announcement of the winners are:
Ms. Azusa Yamada at Kyushu University to her presentation titled “Control Hair Health by Fungus Permanently Presented in Hair” for the Excellence Prize of the Japanese Division;
Ms. Qi Luan Lim at Kyoto University for her presentation titled “Malayan Tapir Conservation through Conserving its Global Genetic Diversity” for the Excellence Prize of the English Division;
Mr. Akira Asayama at Osaka University for his presentation titled “Development of New Genome Editing Technology for Gene Therapy” for the Audience Award
Ms. Shiamita Kusuma Dewi at Gifu University for her presentation titled “Fate of plastic mulch residues in agricultural soil ecosystem and its influencing factor” for the Springer Nature Award. As for the reasons why Ms. Shiamita Kusuma Dewi, who is not a finalist, was awarded, it was because of the excellent summary of her research and a nice storyline that captured our attention, introducing her story in a way that non-specialists can relate to and transitioning smoothly to explain about the issues and the objective of her research to study about the impact of microplastics in soil environments and potential impacts on agroecosystems. Furthermore the way she told the story really painted us a clear picture of the problem and also made us want to learn more about what she does and her results.
The chair of the Judging Panel, Dr. Yuko Harayama, Professor Emeritus of Tohoku University and Co-chair of the Board of Director, Japanese Association for the Advancement of Science commented:
"This year again the judging panel had to make a very difficult decision. This is because we could feel, from all the finalist candidates, the passion for research and the strong desire to contribute to society through their research. Finally, we have selected the winners for the Audience Award, the Excellence Award, and the Grand Prize, although we recognize that all of today's candidates demonstrated the uniqueness of their perspective to tackle challenging research themes, and the potential to advance science. I have great expectations for the future of all candidates, this beyond their immediate goal of obtaining a doctorate degree."
Commenting, Dr. Hiromitsu Urakami, Academic Engagement Director of Springer Nature and a member of the Judging Panel,
“We experienced 20 wonderful presentations with unique stories delivered with passion. It was very stimulating and impressive to see how our finalists had approached their research projects beyond the laboratory setting, actively thinking about ways how their research can help make the world a better place. Regardless of the audience's background knowledge, I think it became a day where we all felt their energy and learned something new. I think that the 3MT is helping raise awareness and joy of communicating research towards the wider community for the students. When communicating their research as publications, we very much hope that all presenters will consider Springer Nature as a possible destination!”
This Competition provides another good opportunity for a good number of PhD students to move forward with an aim to become “a researcher who globally works”
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About HIRAKU (Home for Innovative Researchers and Academic Knowledge Users) program
The HIRAKU program is promoted as part of the “Program for Developing Next Generation Researchers” of the “Building of Consortia for the Development of Human Resources in Science and Technology,” implemented by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Focusing on the “Home for Innovative Researchers and Academic Knowledge Users (HIRAKU)” as its main theme, the program is jointly operated by Hiroshima University (the Lead Partner Organization), Yamaguchi University and Tokushima University (the Co-Partner Organizations), in collaboration with public and private universities primarily located in the Chugoku and Shikoku regions, as well as a growing number of institutions/corporations in public and private sectors. The word, ‘Hiraku’ means to ‘open-up’ or ‘bloom’ in Japanese. For more information, please visit the program website.
Ritsuko Miki | Corporate Affairs | Springer Nature