News: November 17, 2023


Jacob Botello wins 2023 Three-Minute Thesis competition

2023 3MT winners with George Flowers, Dean of the Graduate School
(L-r): George Flowers, Dean of the Graduate School, Jacob Botello, first place, Natasha Grabau, runner-up, and Adebowale Oyerinde, people’s choice winner

Imagine having only three minutes to explain your research to a general audience – this is the challenge for students competing in the Three Minute Thesis, or 3MT, competition. Jacob Botello, a graduate student in Biological Sciences, won first place in Auburn’s 2023 3MT competition on Tuesday, November 14 in the Melton Student Center Ballroom.


Botello’s presentation, “What’s in a ‘Game’? How video games can change the way we teach evolution,” explored using knowledge acquisition through playing video games to improve comprehension and understanding of complex subjects such as evolution. He will represent Auburn University in the regional 3MT competition hosted by the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools in Greenville, South Carolina in March 2024.


“I’m very proud of Jake’s hard work and this achievement winning the 3MT Competition is a well-deserved recognition of his unique talents as a researcher and advocate for science and science education. Jake’s research integrates his passions for evolutionary biology, education and video games, which he very naturally expresses with enthusiasm and eloquence; I think he will make AU very proud in further stages of the competition,” said Matthew Wolak, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, and Botello’s major professor.


3MT, established by The University of Queensland in 2008, has now spread to graduate schools around the globe. Auburn held its first 3MT in 2013 and now holds an annual competition for all graduate students.


In addition, a Runner-Up and a People’s Choice winner are named after the judges and audience have voted (respectively). Natasha Grabau, Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology graduate student, was selected as the Runner-Up for her presentation entitled “To sleep or not to sleep?” Adebowale Oyerinde, Nutritional Sciences graduate student, took home the People’s Choice award for his presentation on the “Volatile organic compounds: a new potential marker for obesity.”


Over 65 students competed in two days of preliminary rounds in October to advance to the final round competition in November. Eleven competitors presented in Auburn University’s eleventh annual 3MT competition for cash prizes.


Photos from this event are available at the AU Graduate School’s Flikr account, and the winners are listed on the Graduate School’s 3MT web page.


For more information about the 3MT competition at Auburn University, visit

Last modified: December 11, 2023