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Monthly Archives: August 2015

2015 3MT Final

The Three Minute Thesis Competition is always a highlight of the Graduate Research Festival and this year was no exception.

3MT blog

From over 115 initial entrants came 10 finalists competing for the honour of representing Otago at the Trans-Tasman competition in Queensland and the Inter-University Challenge in Auckland.

This year we saw the most entrants for the competition and the standard of the heats was fantastic. I was lucky enough to hear everyone’s presentations from Auckland to Dunedin. Research at Otago is certainly in safe hands and it was very difficult to choose just 10 finalists from the contestants.  (“Can I have 20 finalists??” “No, Claire!” “15 finalists??” “NO, Claire!” “12?” “I’m walking away from you, Claire!!”)

Congratulations to all the contestants for their hard work and their excellent presentations. A special “you’re awesome” goes out to the finalists, some of whom were reluctant public speakers despite their obvious skill in the area.

3MT Emma Wadw Slide

Emma Wade’s Slide, The Genetic Mechanism of Skeletal Development

Our finalists were: Emma Wade, Women and Children’s Health; Gilles Marciniak, Geography; Chris LarsenChemistry; Jenny McDowellSir John Walsh Institute;  Nicola Beatson, Accounting and Finance; Mayouri Sukhapure, Psychological Medicine; Emanuel KoflerManagement; John GrayPeace and Conflict Studies; Hana CadzowGeography; and Leon MabireSchool of Physiotherapy.

3MT Judges

Judges, Professor Rachel “Snow Ball” Spronken-Smith, Mark “Candy Crush” Brunton and Professor Richard “Twitter Troll” Blaikie, after being spoken to firmly by MC, Claire “Dominic Bowden” Gallop

3MT Sarah

The lovely time-keeper and Claire-Wrangler, Sarah McGregor

The judges had a difficult time choosing between the excellent finalists but after some vigorous debate and an arm wrestle or two, Jenny McDowell was named PhD Winner and Nicola Beatson was named Master’s winner. The winner of the Crowd Favourite Prize went to Gilles Marciniak from Geography for his moving presentation on landscape values.

3MT Jenny McDowell

Jenny McDowell has the audience in the palm of her hand with her CSI research involving lasers, the sea, and pig bones!

3MT Nicola

Nicola Beatson doing something no one thought possible: making accounting fascinating!

Gilles presenting blog

Gilles Marciniak painting a beautiful picture  of foraging in a French forest.

A huge thanks to everyone who helped make this competition happen.  Particular thanks are owed to the Graduate Research School and Marketing and Communications for sponsoring the prizes.  And an even huger thanks goes to all the students who do the great work that makes a competition like this possible.

I dare you to enter it next year. Go on. You know you want to…

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School

Postgrads hitting the airwaves

Today on the Blog With No Name we are talking with Lawrence Hamilton, host of the Postgraduate Radio Show on Otago University’s very own 91 FM, Radio One. The show is a great place to catch up with all the goings-on within the postgraduate community, hear some interesting interviews and catch the latest in Kiwi and international music. We asked Lawrence some easy questions…

Lawrence and Ali

Why is it called the Postgraduate Radio Show?

Because it is better than being called the Radio Show With No Name (ouch).

What time is it on?

10am-Noon Wednesdays – perfect for that second (or third) cup of coffee and early enough in the day so you don’t feel like you’re procrastinating.  But never fear if that third cup of coffee isn’t enough, or you were up studying all night and haven’t made it out from under the covers yet, the show is available on Just look up the programme page and you can be free to listen to past shows or any podcasts that might be posted. The programme page also contains links to postgraduate announcements and upcoming events, along with a whole jumble of interesting news stories and curiosities.

What is the show about?

The overall theme of the show is ‘celebrating the wonderful Otago postgraduate culture’. And it’s true, Otago does have a wonderful and vibrant postgraduate community. I am constantly amazed at the unique and creative research projects going on all round Dunedin.  It is also just a fun way to spend a mid-week morning. Each week I am introduced to something new and wonderfully random, like green tea super cheese.

But what if I am lactose intolerant?

Actually, the super cheese is designed for people with lactose intolerance, but anyway… Besides talking about local research, the show also has guests from around the world talking about interesting and ground-breaking subjects. Human rights lawyers, international film-makers, and even a scientist who believes he can stop ageing have all come on the Postgraduate Radio Show to share their views with the students here in Dunedin. And if that is not enough, there are giveaways, updates about activities at the Graduate Research School, and of course good music.

But what if I only listen to the radio in car?

Well then drive more! No, Radio one is available as a streaming service from most laptops, phones and tablets. Just go to and click on the stream. The world is changing and so is radio! It is not just for sitting in a car!

Can I participate?

Absolutely! Anyone who feels they have something to say about their research is free to come on and have a chat. It is a great way to get involved in the postgraduate community. Even if you are not technically a postgraduate but feel you have something to say to the community, then get in touch and get on the radio!

Where can I learn more?

Well, if you feel like you have the perfect face for radio then just stop into the Radio 1 office or you can email me directly at I love talking to postgraduates and would love to hear you over the airwaves!

And now for our final question, would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?

Do I get a weapon?

No, just your brute strength.

Then one hundred duck-sized horses – at least you could kick them and jump on them.


MOOC, not Mook!

You gotta hand it to the Australians, they may have a funny accent but they are super good at providing support to their doctoral candidates.  In a couple of weeks we are lucky enough to have Hugh Kearns talking to us about resilience and confidence during your thesis journey (it’s not too late to register!) and Inger from ANU has just created a cool looking course.  And it’s free! 

Dr Inger Mewburn, Thesis Whisperer and thoroughly good-egg

Dr Inger Thesis Whisperer Mewburn is no mook.  She has however created a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that looks like it will super useful for all those doing a PhD and all those unlucky enough to be close to someone doing a PhD.

Inger says:

Did you know that up to one quarter of students who start a PhD don’t finish? You have to be smart to start a PhD, but resilient to finish one.

The new, free MOOC from ANU “How to survive your PhD” is designed to help built by Dr Inger Mewburn, better known as The Thesis Whisperer, to help build PhD student resilience. You will learn research based tips and strategies to help students and supervisors create a more supportive environment for research study. The MOOC will have many opportunities to connect and discuss the issues with other participants around the world, either in the discussion forums or on social media using the hashtag #survivephd15

The MOOC is suitable for supervisors, current students, prospective students and even parents, partners and friends. The course should take you no more than two hours a week so you can more easily fit it in a busy schedule. You could take the course on your own, or form a small group (have a look at the suggestions Inger has outlined here

I’ve just signed up for it and at 2 hours per week for 10 weeks it looks completely doable even with my heavy schedule.  Topics include: frustration (oh yeah); fear (you bet); confusion (all the time); and boredom (my, that cardboard box looks interesting) amongst other things.

So check out the course and give it a go and I’ll see you all in the ether.

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School

The Anatomy of a Workshop*

* Warning: this post contains genuine anxiety, real-time procrastination, and 24 carat chaos.  It is not for the fainthearted.

I’m composed of 82% Fear-of-Missing-Out which leads me to agree to a range of things I should probably say no to.  It means I have had the opportunity to do some pretty awesome stuff at work but it also comes at a cost.  The price I pay generally involves a few sleepless nights, the occasional dream that the Vice-Chancellor calls me to a meeting and I turn up naked apart from a stuffed possum on my head and a nervous smile, and a tendency to word coleslaw salad.  

Naturally enough when I got asked to present a workshop on how to do presentations, I said yes.

Several hours-in of the 25+ hours I spent on preparing material for the workshop had me questioning my career choices and cycling through Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief. 

I really love teaching and presenting** and every-so often I manage to convince some kind person that I’m ok at it.  Nevertheless, I still  feel under-prepared and worry about my inadequacy in all sorts of ways.  Feeling like a fraud (be it about our knowledge, our process, or our expertise) is not something we talk about readily but it is something I think we should acknowledge more.

The awesome Hugh Kearns is due to present a workshop on the imposter syndrome  in Dunedin in a couple of weeks (register here!) so it seems timely to write about my reality before rocking up and delivering a talk, lecture or workshop.  

Blog 1Blog 2Blog 3Blog 4

** Showing-Off, as my mother would say.

Claire Gallop, Graduate Research School