Haley Davis, a Charles E. Schmidt College of Science student in the Biological Sciences Master’s degree program, tied for the second runner up award in the 2022 Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®) for her presentation on “Hyposalinity tolerance of three southeast Florida reef-building corals.”
What program are you enrolled in?
I am a Master of Science candidate in the Coral Reef Health and Ecology Lab, I am studying local stressors to coral health. Specifically, I look at the impacts of hyposalinity on coral health to better understand the lower threshold of coral salinity tolerance. This is pertinent to Southeast Florida’s reefs where runoff from coastal areas can impact the salinity of our nearshore reef habitats, threatening our already stressed coral reef ecosystem.
How difficult (or easy) was it for you to translate this area of study into a winning 3MT® talk?
This concept was relatively easy to break down in the 3MT-style talk, as it is a relatively simple concept. Just like in a baking recipe, corals need certain amount of different “ingredients” to thrive; any more or less, and they start to become stressed. In this case, I am working on determining how little salt is too little in the recipe for health coral reefs.
How did you prepare?
I prepared by writing out my speech and practicing it out loud while timing myself. I started by saying everything I could think, then condensed my sentences until I was within the 3-minute time limit and speaking at a comfortable, understandable pace.
What did you like best about the competition?
I really loved how this competition placed an emphasis on breaking down my project into an elevator-pitch length presentation, as well as making it understandable to the public. I used this skill when presenting my poster at a recent conference, keeping my audience engaged while delivering succinct and understandable science, regardless of their field of expertise.
How did the Biological Science Department help you prepare? Advisor, faculty, fellow students?
My advisor, Dr. Joshua Voss, encouraged me to participate in this competition, which I may not have otherwise known about or felt capable of competing in. Beyond that, my fellow students helped me prepare the most, letting me bounce ideas off of them and listening to me practice multiple times.
What did you learn through this process?
Through this process I learned more about how to deliver scientific information in a succinct and engaging way - a skill that I believe will serve me well in many settings throughout my career.
What would you do differently? Do you have any advice for others competing next year?
For future students participating in this event, I’d say make sure to practice and remember to add analogies or breakdowns of scientific concepts so that they can be understood by a broader audience.