2018 3MT Competition

On Friday, March 9, 2018, PhD research came to life in the university's second annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

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This competition, hosted by the Graduate School and Blackstone LaunchPad, features PhD students communicating their research to non-experts and competing to win monetary prizes up to $1,000.

The audience was invited to vote on their favorite presentation to determine the People’s Choice Award winner. A panel of judges determined the first, second and third place prize winners.


We are pleased to announce that the winners of UB's second annual 3MT competition are:

First Place: Philip Odonkor
Second Place: Naila Sahar
Third Place: Camila Rosat Consiglio
People's Choice: Camila Rosat Consiglio

Meet Our Celebrity Guest Master of Ceremonies

Kevin O'Neill

Kevin O’Neill was born and raised in Buffalo. He earned his Bachelor of Science from Ithaca College’s renowned communications school. He has worked in Buffalo broadcasting for 25 years, starting as a DJ for Kiss 98.5, then moved to Star 102.5 and finally to Channel 4, where he gained the nickname "Why Guy”. O'Neill worked at WIVB for 12 years before he moved downtown to the NBC affiliate, Channel 2, where he has worked since 2006. You can see O'Neill every morning on "Daybreak".

Several years ago, O'Neill followed his passion for weather and entered a three-year study program with Mississippi State University. He has since earned his certificate as a broadcast meteorologist. He does the weather as a fill-in, his main focus remains morning live shots from WNY businesses, attraction and events.

O'Neill has had his share of heartache and disappointment though: he is a die-hard Buffalo Bills fan.

Meet Our Finalists

Meet the 12 exemplary doctoral students that were selected as finalists to present their three minute thesis at UB's second annual 3MT competition.

Ann Marie Butler

Presentation Title: Draw a New Conclusion: How Art Can Change Your Mind

PhD Program: Transnational Studies

Advisor: Jonathan Katz

Biography: Anne Marie Butler is a PhD candidate in the Department of Transnational Studies. She aspires to challenge the landscape of contemporary art by prioritizing art and artists who are persistently overlooked by galleries, dealers and museums. Butler's dissertation focuses on contemporary visual art from Tunisia that uses sub-text to indirectly address Tunisian politics. Among her professional affiliations are the National Women's Studies Association, Middle East Studies Association and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies. In addition to her research activities, Butler enjoys cycling and Scrabble. Her future plans include obtaining a teaching and research position. 

Alok Deshpande

Presentation Title: Building Safer Nuclear Power Plants

PhD Program: Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Advisor: Andrew Whittaker, Ravi Ranade

Biography: Alok Deshpande hails from India and is a PhD student in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. He is studying the effects that high temperatures have on concrete walls in nuclear power plants. Deshpande is motivated to determine how to design safer nuclear power plants by understanding the effects of elevated temperatures on the behavior of concrete. His hobbies include reading, traveling and cooking. His future plans include conducting research in the area of earthquake engineering.

Joshua Gordon

Presentation Title: Bacteria and Blood Pressure: Exploring the Link Between the Oral Microbiome and Hypertension

PhD Program: Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Advisor: Jean Wactawski-Wende

Biography: Joshua Gordon is a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health. His research explores the association between oral health and high blood pressure. Gordon's ambition is to develop more effective ways to treat hypertension which contribute to heart disease and stroke. He is a member of the American Medical Student Association and the American Physician Scientist Association. Gordon's hobbies are rock climbing, hiking and playing guitar. After graduation, Gordon plans to work as a physician scientist.

Lynne Klasko-Foster

Presentation Title: Understanding How People Think About Their Personal Risk for Sexually Transmitted Infections

PhD Program: Community Health and Health Behavior

Advisor: Marc Kiviniemi

Biography: Lynne Klasko-Foster is a PhD candidate in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior. She also holds degrees from the University of Rochester and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The purpose of her research is to discover a better understanding of the cognitive and affective components of risk. The goal is to protect a larger segment of the population from contracting HIV or cancer-causing HPV through understanding people's perceptions of personal risk. Klasko-Foster is a member of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and American Public Health Association. She is an avid runner and loves to bake. She aspires to become a research professor.

Jay Leipheimer

Presentation Title: A Fungus Among Us: Cryptic Weapon Regulation

PhD Program: Microbiology and Immunology

Advisor: John Panepinto

Biography: Jay Leipheimer is a PhD candidate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He is studying how the fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans, manufactures proteins that allow it to cause disease. Leipheimer is also using this fungal pathogen as a model to study basic molecular biology. He aspires to generate new findings that will aid in novel drug design and reveal base mechanisms that make all life possible. Away from the lab, Leipheimer enjoys watching Netflix, wine and beer tasting, and financial trading. For the future his "plan A" is to work as a biomedical researcher and "plan B" is to work as a bartender.

Souransu Nandi

Presentation Title: Type 1 Diabetes: Dealing With Pricks

PhD Program: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Advisor: Tarunraj Singh

Biography: Souransu Nandi, originally from India, is a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Nandi's research focuses on designing control algorithms for a biomedical device called the artificial pancreas. His goal is for the artificial pancreas to mimic the actions of a normal pancreas enabling diabetic patients to live more freely. Outside of the lab, Nandi is a fan of playing board games and binge watching television shows. Upon graduation, he aspires to work as a full-time researcher to discover solutions that will have a large, positive impact on society.

Neeti Narayan

Presentation Title: Person Tracking for Improved Video Surveillance

PhD Program: Computer Science and Engineering

Advisor: Venu Govindaraju

Biography: Neeti Narayan earned a Master's degree from UB and is currently pursuing a PhD degree in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. In her research, Narayan is working to develop systems to automatically track multiple people across multiple cameras in real time. Her work has the potential to improve the quality of surveillance and identification in cluttered scenes such as at airports and train stations. In addition to her research activities, Narayan enjoys sports especially, racquetball and badminton. Her future plans include working as a faculty member at a university.

Philip Odonkor

Presentation Title: Is your house smarter than a mud hut?

PhD Program: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Advisor: Kemper Lewis

Biography: Originally from Ghana, Philip Odonkor is pursuing his PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He also holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees from UB. Odonkor's research focuses on realizing the promise of net-zero energy smart buildings through the use of optimal control strategies. He aspires to develop energy management algorithms to discover our most innate energy habits and to use this data to better manage energy assets within our homes and offices. Odonkor's favorite activities are playing football, soccer and racquetball. After graduation, he plans to become an academic researcher in the field of energy optimization. 

Camila Rosat Consiglio

Presentation Title: Immunity: A Battle of the Sexes

PhD Program: Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Advisor: Sandra Gollnick

Biography: Camila Rosat Consiglio, originally from Brazil, is a PhD candidate in the Department of Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Her research explores why men and women differ in immune responses and how sex hormones regulate the immune system. Her goal is to use the knowledge gained from her research to develop therapies that will enhance immunity to fight infections and diseases. In addition to her research activities, Rosat Consiglio loves to hike and attend concerts. Her future career plan is to become an investigator in the field of immunology

James Sackett

Presentation Title: Carbon Dioxide Retention: A Potential Life Threatening Consequence of Underwater Diving

PhD Program: Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Advisor: Blair Johnson

Biography: James Sackett is a PhD student in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. He is currently investigating the chemical control of breathing in humans during water immersion. The purpose is to discover the underlying mechanisms and dangerous consequences of carbon monoxide retention during underwater diving. Sackett is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Physiological Society. Outside of the lab, his interests include hockey, snowmobiling, hiking and baseball. Sackett plans to become a professor of exercise science.

Naila Sahar

Presentation Title: Who is a Muslim woman?

PhD Program: English

Advisor: Carine Mardorossian

Biography: Naila Sahar is a Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan who is pursuing her PhD in English. Her research focuses on overcoming barriers that deter Muslim women from voicing their concerns and challenging stereotypes either in script or action. Sahar aspires to change misconceptions about Muslim women in the United States by telling their life stories. She is a member of the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) and the Modern Language Association (MLA). Sahar enjoys watching Netflix and catching up on sleep whenever possible. After graduation, she plans to teach journalism.

Hao Zhang

Presentation Title: Unveiling the Relationship Between Urban Design and Obesity - Shanghai Story

PhD Program: Urban and Regional Planning

Advisor: Li Yin

Biography: Hao Zhang, originally from China, is pursuing his PhD in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. The focus of his research is on understanding the relationship between urban design and obesity in Shanghai. Zhang's goal is to mitigate the obesity epidemic in China as well as in other countries, by modifying the built environment. He is a member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) and the International Association for China Planning (IACP). Zhang's hobbies include painting, cooking, hiking and Tai Chi. In the future, Zhang plans to work as a university professor, think tank expert or entrepreneur.

The Judging Panel

Meet our esteemed panel of volunteer judges.

Anthony Chase

Anthony Chase is the assistant dean of arts and humanities at Buffalo State, where he teaches in the theater and English departments. He holds a PhD in English from the University at Buffalo, where his dissertation was on queer comedy. In his remote youth, he studied film theory, semiotics and 17th century poetry with Kaja Silverman at Trinity College, Hartford, and at the Barbieri Center in Rome, Italy, including a stint as her teaching assistant. At Trinity, he was president's fellow in theater arts and winner of the F.A. Brown Prize for Public Speaking. This year he celebrated his 25th year as the host of “Theater Talk” on WBFO, providing commentary on theater in Western New York, Southern Ontario and across the continent, and signing off each week with his familiar tag, “And I’m Anthony Chase”. He is also the creator and producer of Buffalo’s annual professional theater awards, “The Arties" presented by WBFO/WNED and was the founding theater editor for the Artvoice newspaper providing insight on Western New York and national theater for 27 years. In 2012, Spree Magazine named him “Best Media Personality” in the Best of Buffalo Awards.

On rare occasions, Chase is coaxed out on stage, most recently to play Lady Bracknell in the Buffalo State Theater Department's production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest".

Anthony Johnson

Anthony Johnson is an entrepreneur and experienced leader of life science and hi-tech industries. He is the president and CEO of Empire Genomics and founding partner of Buffalo Biosciences, LLC.

Johnson holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Fisk University in biology and an MBA in international strategy from Manchester Business School, Manchester, England.


Laurie Dean Torrell

Laurie Dean Torrell has more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit organizations. Under her leadership since 2002, Just Buffalo has pioneered strategic collaboration; developed and implemented strategic, marketing and development plans; retained top talent at the staff and board levels; and secured grants and donations to double the budget and bring expanded literary programming to the community including BABEL. In conjunction with Just Buffalo’s 40th Anniversary (2014-2017), Torrell spearheaded JB40—a campaign to fully establish the new Just Buffalo Writing Center, expand visibility and participation, and ensure Just Buffalo’s work and mission remain vital for years to come.