News: 2016, February 16th


PhD student to present carbon absorption research at Conference of Southern Graduate Schools 3MT competition


By Brianna Womack |

Hamed Madjidzadeh, a doctoral student in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, will represent Auburn University in a prestigious research competition during the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) annual meeting this week.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition challenges doctoral students to present their research to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes, using only one slide to convey highly technical research. Dissertation research can take years to complete and be in a highly specialized field, so this competition puts students to the ultimate test in communicating it to the public.

As the winner of Auburn University’s 3MT competition in November 2015, Madjidzadeh will present his research on carbon absorption and how it relates to climate change during the CSGS 3MT competition in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he will compete against dozens of graduate students from other institutions.  The CSGS annual meeting, to be held Feb. 18-21, draws senior-level administrators from across the South to discuss issues of importance in graduate education.

Madjidzadeh’s research ultimately seeks to address some inconsistencies in climate change research. One way to quell the public’s uncertainty about climate change, he said, is by providing more accurate data which leads to more accurate predictions and models.

“To understand climate change, we need to understand carbon emission and also carbon absorption,” Majidzadeh said. “My research is about carbon absorption and the big gap in carbon absorption data in urban areas.”

He continued: “Our experiment design took more than one year. We had a controlled study with a very beautiful design – an advanced design. It’s easy to present a good product. My lab manager, technician and my major adviser, Dr. Graeme Lockaby, had a big role in producing that product.”

Since winning the university’s competition, Majidzadeh has devoted many hours to preparing a new slide that he feels is easier for audiences to understand. Preparing the slide is only part of the work; he said the most challenging part is summarizing the research in a way that it connects with the audience.

“3MT is like choosing a couple of snapshots from your research, but you have hundreds of those snapshots, so you need to choose the correct one,” he said. “Then you need to connect those snapshots in a way that is meaningful. Connecting those snapshots is the most difficult part.”

Beyond slide preparation, he spends around 30 minutes per day tackling other areas of the presentation like word choice, movement on stage and overall delivery.

When working on overall delivery, Madjidzadeh said he learned best from the pros on Ted Talks and by watching speeches from former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

As an international student from Iran, he worked to make sure he was understandable by recording himself and having friends listen to the recording to be sure his word pronunciation was correct. He also received presentation help from James Truman, director of the Miller Writing Center, and Dale Watson, the Graduate School’s director of professional development.


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Auburn University Three Minute Thesis:
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Last modified: December 19, 2016