Go back

Coimbra Group Three Minute Thesis Final Winner Announced

23 October 2020

Congratulations to Maria Francesca Di Filippo on winning the 2020 edition of the Coimbra Group Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition!

With a presentation titled “Functional properties of chitosan films modified by snail mucus extract”, Maria Francesca, a PhD candidate in biomimetic and material chemistry at the University of Bologna, talked to our audience about how her research work attempts to improve the properties of bioplastic to make it more competitive when it comes to replacing plastic.

Speaking on behalf of the competition’s judging panel, Riitta Pyykkö, Emerita Vice-Rector at the University of Turku, said that Maria Francesca’s presentation had the best balance between science, research and communication (…) on an interesting topic – not just for science, but for the whole world – and about which we want to find out more.”

Being able to communicate science is very important and, in the context of the European Commission’s policy developments, the European Research Area and the Horizon Europe programme, it has become one of the highest priorities as well as one of the most important aspects we have to tackle in the years to come”, said Anna Panagopoulou, Acting Director for Research & Innovation Outreach at the Directorate General for Research & Innovation of the European Commission, who attended the event and gave a talk about the newly launched Communication on the European Research Area.

A judging panel of five members from Coimbra Group universities assessed the finalists’ performances on the basis of comprehension, content, engagement and communication. This year’s gender- and discipline-balanced jury included:

  • Claudia Cavadas, Vice-Rector for Research at the University of Coimbra and Member of the Executive Board of the Coimbra Group (Pharmacology)
  • Pedro Garcia Sanchez, Faculty of Sciences, Algebra Dept., University of Granada (Mathematics)
  • Mr Jean-Marie Pincemin, Head International Office, University of Poitiers and Vice-Chair of the Doctoral Studies Working Group of the Coimbra Group (Humanities/Social Sciences)
  • Riitta Pyykkö, Emerita Vice-Rector, University of Turku (Science Communication expert)
  • Adriana Zait, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi (Economics)

Selina Bruns (University of Göttingen) and Vicente Artola Arita (University of Groningen) were the runners-up of this year’s final. Selina, a PhD candidate in agricultural economics and rural development, presented her research about sustainable economic development of smallholder farmers in the larger Mekong Region. Her work aims to address what determines the differences in farm performance. Whereas with a presentation titled “One size does not fit our hearts”, Vicente, a PhD candidate in medicine, explained how the aim of his thesis is to better characterize patients with atrial fibrillation to improve diagnosis, prevention and treatment in order to provide personalized counselling to the needs of each person.

The three finalists gave an excellent performance – they were, after all, the winners of their own universities’ internal 3MT competitions.

The event was streamed live on our YouTube channel and the recording is available here.

The Coimbra Group 3MT competition was launched in 2017 by the Doctoral Studies Working Group, in line with one of their strategic priorities geared towards professional development of PhD candidates.
The network-wide competition consists of two phases: in the first phase, after holding their institutional 3MT competition, universities are invited to submit the video of the winner from their own internal competitions to the Coimbra Group office, which then launches an online voting procedure. This year, a total of 19 out of the 41 member universities of the Coimbra Group took part in the competition, and this in the context of a semester marked by university lockdowns, as Gunda Huskobla, the Chair of the Doctoral Studies Working Group, recalled when introducing the final. These universities submitted the video of their institutional winner and a total of 26 universities submitted their votes. Voters were requested to assign 3, 2 and 1 point(s) to their preferred top three candidates.  The live final is the second and last phase of the competition, where the three shortlisted candidates are assessed by a judging panel for a first, second and third prize of, respectively, € 3000, € 2000 and € 1000.