Issue 7
Monday, 02 September 2019
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Kat Tuite’s winning 3MT presentation, titled “Letting the BIG cat out the bag”, faced stiff competition from five fellow CDU PhD candidates
Kat Tuite’s winning 3MT presentation, titled “Letting the BIG cat out the bag”, faced stiff competition from five fellow CDU PhD candidates

Big cats win Three Minute Thesis competition

PhD research focusing on the animal enrichment practices undertaken by zoos around the world has won the CDU round of this year’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

College of Health and Human Sciences PhD candidate Eileen (Kat) Tuite’s winning presentation, titled “Letting the BIG cat out the bag”, faced stiff competition from five fellow CDU PhD candidates.

Developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, 3MT is a research communication competition that is held annually in 600 universities and institutions world-wide.

The aim is to encourage researchers to communicate complex research in a short three-minute time frame, with competitors assessed on comprehension, content, engagement and communication.

Kat’s presentation on her research highlighted the divergent approaches to tiger enrichment by zoo administrators.

“We understand that domestic animals need to play and exercise but what about a tiger in a zoo,” Kat asked the audience.

“Enrichment, through the provision of items or an environment that engages the bodies and minds of animals, has been found to be beneficial for the welfare of tigers.

“My research is looking at why some zoos provide enrichment and others don’t. One argument is giving tigers items that are unnatural puts people off but there is no real evidence to support this. Even so, is that more important than what the tiger wants?”

Kat received a $1500 research grant for taking out the CDU title and will now represent the university at the Asia Pacific 3MT Final in Brisbane, where she will take on competitors from other parts of Australia as well as those from New Zealand, Oceania, North-East Asia and South-East Asia.

The runner-up at the CDU competition was College of Engineering, IT and Environment Cara Penton for her presentation on “Reliance on tree hollows by tree-rats and possums in Northern Australia”. Research into the “Synthesis of digital education at home for underprivileged children in Pakistan” scored College of Education PhD candidate, Faisal Badar, the People’s Choice award.

Kat said the 3MT experience was a fantastic opportunity to share her research findings with the public while also honing her personal skills for engaging communication.

She encouraged all PhD candidates to participate in 3MT competitions in the future, particularly in an era where there was an increasing demand to demonstrate the impact and relevance of research.

Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies Associate Professor Natasha Stacey said the 3MT was a great concept and was widely recognised and well regarded.

“Developing a good elevator pitch is invaluable for researchers. Information these days must be presented in a compact and engaging way if people are going to absorb it. The challenge for researchers is to be able to do this while also respecting our content,” she said.