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A finger-prick blood test for cancer, biomaterials to replace bone, koala vaccines and a mutant obesity-proof mouse are among bold new PhD ideas battling it out in this year's Three-Minute Thesis competition.

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The 20 best PhD contestants from across the University will have just three minutes to pitch their research. Photo: Thinkstock

A finger-prick blood test for cancer, biomaterials to replace bone, koala vaccines and a mutant obesity-proof mouse are among bold new ideas that will battle it out for top Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) honours at a free public event on Thursday 18 September.

The 20 best contestants from across the University’s faculties will have just three minutes to pitch their research to a panel of judges for a cash prize and the honour of representing UNSW at the 3MT Trans-Tasman championships.

The annual contest is a showcase of some of UNSW’s most exciting doctoral research and a public event not to be missed, says Professor Laura Poole-Warren, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research Training) and Dean of Graduate Research.

“Where else can you hear 20 three-minute research snapshots across the creative arts, engineering, humanities, science, law, medicine, business and social sciences?” said Professor Poole-Warren.

“With such an amazing breadth of high-quality research on offer, this is even better than TED!” 

New sensor technology to map fall risks for the elderly, a novel rocket engine, chlamydia immunisation of koalas and natural disaster recovery are just some of the topics that will be presented by faculty winners 

A genetically-engineered obesity-proof mouse and simple blood test for cancer will be pitted against the mathematical case for wild Tasmanian devils and a “fingerprint” for bowel cancer.

The winner will take home $3,000; $1,500 for the runner-up; $1,000 for the People’s Choice award determined by the audience, and $500 for the Aspire prize awarded by school students.

The overall winner will go on to represent UNSW at the Trans-Tasman competition with $5,000 up for grabs.

Presentations will be judged by award-winning ABC science journalist Robyn Williams, Fairfax’s chief political correspondent Mark Kenny, prominent schizophrenia researcher Professor Cyndi Shannon Weickert and Dr Martin Nakata, director of the Nura Gili Centre for Indigenous Programs at UNSW.

What: Three-Minute Thesis Competition

When: 4.30-7.30pm, 18 September 2014 – free public event

Where: Leighton Hall, John Niland Scientia Building, Kensington campus

For a full list of thesis topics contact Christina Bacchiella, UNSW Graduate Research School, 9385 4032, c.bacchiella@unsw.edu.au

Media contact: Leilah Schubert, UNSW Media Office, 02 9385 8107, l.schubert@unsw.edu.au