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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Master-ing the 3MT

If you had been umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether or not to enter the Three Minute Thesis competition this year, maybe those voices in the back of your head were nagging at you “I don’t have time” or “I really should be prioritising other stuff”… well the following post from our Masters Winner, Nicola Beatson, may just help you to realise that taking some time away from your desk could actually be productive for your research – go figure!

3MT NB 2

I entered the 3MT on a bit of a whim but was excited to see what it was all about… I saw it as both an opportunity to get involved in the post grad community and also to work out what on earth I was talking about in my thesis! Having been a part time MCom student for the past (won’t say how many) years, holding down a full time job AND having two babies in that same time period has meant that my thesis has been put on hold numerous times.

My research seemed to always take a back seat, however this year, I put it higher up the priority list and started putting blocks of time aside for research. So a few months ago, I was pretty close to a final draft, but I still felt like my thesis was a bit unfocused. It was through entering the 3MT competition that meant I was able to work out what I believed was really important about my work. As we all know, a thesis has so many moving parts, to find out what the point of your work is, can sometimes be confusing, confronting, or just near on impossible! Through writing a speech that described my work in just 3 minutes, I was able to figure out what my story was. This helped tremendously in terms of shaping all the chapters in my thesis, ensuring everything I wrote told part of my story.

3MT NicolaThe event itself was a great experience to meet other research students, so often we don’t leave our offices! I got to know other commerce postgrads at the heats and then when I got a wildcard place to the finals, I met other students from across the university! Wow, there is some amazing research being done here at Otago, it was fascinating to see what people are up to… It was also a fabulous and rewarding experience in terms of polishing up on those all-important presentation skills. It’s always good to feel the fear and do it anyway! I was lucky enough to win the masters section for the University of Otago which meant a trip to Auckland to compete at the national finals! I also won a research grant (thanks GRS!!!!), but more importantly I won the opportunity (just by competing in the first place) to figure out the essence of my research!

3MT Nicola Beatson

The moral of the story is, have a go next year…its really fun, but more importantly, it is rewarding in terms of progressing your thought processes… so if your supervisor says you don’t have time to enter the 3MT, let them read this blog!! As you will clarify and drill down into what is really important by reducing your many thousands of words into a 3 minute speech!

Six Point Formula for Talks (and Blog Posts)

Justine Rogers from UNSW Law is one of those academics who knows how to communicate well. She’s cracked the formula of giving a great TED talk, but the formula is applicable to academic talks in general.

I figured, if this could work for talks, it could work for blog posts too.  Which reminded me of the time I was four and my brothers encouraged me to scream out a swear word in church.

Moster Sniff

So, always remember, your research is the wind beneath your wings, thesis candidates. Tomorrow is another day, what does not kill you only makes you stronger, and make sure you have sorted your thesis metrics for your stakeholder supervisors.

glacierI’m sure you will all agree, that this post has revolutionized your life, which only leaves me to say, enjoy this TEDx Talk temporary flesh-people and have a great and ghost-free weekend.

Claire Gallop, Womanager, Graduate Research School



Master Panada

We were all lined up to celebrate our first birthday, yes, we have made it!  One whole year of blog posts.  Sadly, Panda E Bear is out with the flu so celebrations will need to wait for another day.  In the meantime, let us introduce Master Panda.  A slightly smaller (and less troublesome) panda, Master Panda normally hangs out in the Dean’s office at GRS, helping the Dean out with important day to day matters (namely keeping the door open).  Anyway, after a week of rather terrible weather we took Master Panda out for a stroll around campus, snapping signs of spring and enjoying the sunshine*.


Every man and his dog (quiet literally I took some pics while walking the dog the other day) have taken a pic of the magnolia this year.  Not sure if it has been the grey weather or the threat of snow but this year the magnolia looks amazing. Master Panda had to get in on the action and of course be the main focus of the picture (he doesn’t get a lot of air time)!


Master Panda was super keen to find some daffodils.  Amazingly we managed to locate some outside the Richardson building but despite much coaxing they refused to play ball and be photographed with Master Panda.  They were rather shy and hid their sweet wee faces away from the camera.  This is the best we could get.  Maybe they are a bit nervous with all the building work going on around them.


A Dunedin Icon.  The Rhodie.  Master Panda very gallantly climbed up the tree to get this pic (it took ages by the way – Master Panda is only 15cm tall and takes little teeny steps).  Despite the windchill factor, he then fell asleep for an hour in the sun (some of us are lucky enough to have a big furry coat!).


We had to bribe Master Panda with a chocolate fish to get this one, and we promise that is in fact blossom!  What you can’t see in the background is the team of stunt people assisting Master Panda in this shot.  He is leaping off a trampoline, superman style**.

So as we wander back to the Clocktower, feeling refreshed from seeing the sun (we even managed to soak up some vitamin D, albeit through the limited amounts of hand and face surfaces exposed!), delighted at the sight of spring flowers and full of hope that this very cold weather might just come to an end at some point – we hope you will be inspired on the next sunny day to take a stroll round campus, avoid the construction sites and see if you can spot some signs of spring.

*Sunshine: noun, “direct sunlight unbroken by cloud, especially over a comparatively large area”

**No pandas were hurt in the shooting of these photos.  When it comes to photos the GRS team are highly trained professionals (does High School Bursary Art count???)

Your Workspace in the World

To celebrate the 2015 Graduate Research Festival, the Graduate Research School launched an Instagram account. We wanted to know where your ‘Workspace in the World’ was – where does your research brilliance ‘happen’? Claire recounts her experience as a Masters candidate…

“I wrote my entire Master’s thesis in bed.  It was the old days and I had an early Apple Mac that I’d prop on my knees like a laptop (I was an innovator).  I liked writing in bed because when I got tired I could have a wee nap and when I woke up I could start writing again immediately.  I believe one of the reasons I don’t get enough done on my PhD thesis is because my boss won’t let me set up a bed in my office.”

We can imagine it looking a little something like this…Panda1


So we asked… are you a J. K. Rowlingesque café goer?  Do you compete for Library space with the undergraduates?  Have you got the perfect balance of proximity between access to coffee and a source of warmth? And your pictures said it all! The five lucky winners are announced at the conclusion of your following worldly workspaces… enjoy 🙂


Anne Shave – PhD, Department of Theology
Anne Shave - PhD, Theology

Ali Rogers – Masters, Department of Science CommunicationAli Rogers - Masters, Science Communication

Tyler Northern – Masters, Department of Marine ScienceTyler Northern - Masters, Marine Science

Tracy Rogers – PhD, Higher Education Development CentreTracy Rogers - PhD, HEDC

Rebecca Babcock – Masters, Bioethics and Health LawRebecca Babcock - Masters, Bioethics and Health Law

Rachel Tan – PhD, Higher Education Development CentreRachel Tan - PhD, HEDC

Pramit Patel – Masters, Department of MicrobiologyPramit Patel - Masters, Microbiology

Mike Maze  PhD, Department of Preventive and Social MedicineMike Maze - PhD, Preventive and Social Medicine

Marieke Jasperse – PhD, Department of Psychological MedicineMarieke Jasperse - PhD, Psychological Medicine

Lindsay Robertson – PhD, Department of Preventive and Social MedicineLindsay Robertson - PhD, Preventive and Social Medicine

Liesel Mitchell – PhD, National Centre for Peace and Conflict StudiesLiesel Mitchell - PhD, Peace and Conflict

Li Kee Chee  Masters, Dietetics ProgrammeLi Kee Chee - Masters, Dietetics

Georgia Bell  Masters, Department of Marine ScienceGeorgia Bell - Masters, Marine Science

Francesca Allen – Masters, Department of Anthropology and ArchaeologyFrancesca Allen - Masters, Archaeology

Esther Dale – PhD, Department of BotanyEsther Dale - PhD, Botany

Erika Szymanski – PhD, Department of Science CommunicationErika Szymanski - PhD, Science Communication

Chelsea Slobbe – Masters, Dietetics ProgrammeChelsea Slobbe - Masters, Dietetics

Ben Riordan – PhD, Department of PsychologyBen Riordan - PhD, Psychology

Rebecca Ahmadi – Masters, Public HealthRebecca Ahmadi

The winners have been drawn from the very official hat! Congratulations to…

Georgia Bell, Tyler Northern, Rebecca AhmadiMike Maze, and Esther Dale

Your $50 prezzy cards will be available for you to collect from the GRS Reception (Ground floor of Clocktower Building, north end) from Monday afternoon onward (7 September). Or contact for any alternative arrangements.

Thanks again to all of you who shared your photos: your second homes, that spot in the library, your kitchen, the lab; whether love it or hate it, hang on to your little workspace in the world!