Sussex Researcher School

Sussex 3MT 2016

On Wednesday 8th June 2016 twelve Sussex doctoral researchers from a range of disciplines competed for prizes and a place in the UK semi-final of Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

The first ever Three Minute Thesis Competition at Sussex - 2016

The Three Minute Thesis Competition was held at the University of Sussex for the first time on Wednesday 8th June 2016. With twelve entries on a wide variety of subjects, from autonomous robots through to Hawai’in poetry, the audience was treated to a mix of concise, interesting presentations. 

The judging panel, consisting of Prof Vicky Lebeau, Director of the Doctoral School, Dr Mary Henes, South and East Area Director of The Brilliant Club and Mr Paul Roberts, Assistant Director of Doctoral School, considered the speakers on criteria such as clarity, enthusiasm, and performance.

First prize of a £1,000 cheque was awarded to Anna Webb for her presentation on ‘Quantum Computing with Single Atoms’. Emma Scanlan took second prize (an iPad Air) for ‘Poetry and Politics in Hawai’i’. The People’s Choice award of an iPad Mini, decided by popular ballot, went to Mahmoud Bukar Maina for his talk on ‘Amyloid Beta Protein: Key to Alzheimer’s Disease Progression’.

The prizes were presented by Professor Michael Davies, Pro Vice Chancellor (Research), who praised the knowledge and enthusiasm demonstrated by all the speakers. Awarding the first prize, Professor Davies applauded Anna’s ability to make such a complex idea intelligible to non-experts in a very short space of time.

Anna was entered into the UK semi-final in July 2016, competing against doctoral researchers from other participating universities.

Read the full news story

Three Minute Thesis 2016 Gallery


Meet the 2016 presenters


Auday Al-Mayyahi - Autonomous Robots for Hypermarkets

This project is to investigate the application of autonomous robots in hypermarkets to pick and deploy items from a stock to shelves whilst different static and dynamic objects are moving around. When the robot receives a signal informing it that a specific item is run out, the robot will employ its camera to identify the required item and pick it up from the stock. Then, it starts manoeuvring around to reach the destination and put new items at its particular position on the shelves. The focus of this research is divided into two phases: a) design and build an unmanned vehicle that is capable to avoid collision various objects and stop when reaching its target. b) Using machine vision techniques to detect and recognise objects.

Mahmoud Bukar Maina - Amyloid Beta Protein: Key to Alzheimer’s Disease Progression

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia with about 46.8 million people currently living with the disease, and this number is expected to rise to about 131.5 million by 2050. There is currently no treatment to stop or slow the disease. The principal hallmarks of the disease in the brains of patients are two proteins – Amyloid beta that deposits outside brain cells and Tau, that deposits inside brain cells. It is believed that the changes in these proteins play an important role in causing or progressing the disease. My project studies the relationship between these proteins and how they affect brain cells in order to develop better support and a therapeutic strategy to halt the disease.

Daire Cantillon - TB: The Spartans of the Microbial World

TB infects 1 in 3 people worldwide and is the number one cause of death due to a single infectious agent, with 1.5 million deaths in 2015 attributed to it. Treatment times are long, with a six month course of antibiotics required to cure infection. It is hypothesised that certain bacterial sub populations in the human lung have increased tolerance to these antibiotics and the long treatment times are needed to target these bacteria. My research focuses on developing an in vitro model to culture these drug tolerant sub populations and investigating the genes involved in this drug tolerant phenotype.

Eleanor Careless - Charged with Terrorism: Poetry and Politics in the 1970s

Anna Mendelssohn, ‘one of the most important poets’ of the late twentieth century, was convicted in 1972 of conspiring with the urban guerrillas known as the Angry Brigade, in what was until recently the longest criminal trial in British legal history. Her highly political poetry is indelibly marked by her own experience of persecution and imprisonment. My thesis aims to explore Mendelssohn’s poetic inscription of the limits and trauma of resistance within Western societies, and engages closely with issues of protest, surveillance, and the place of the individual within a carceral state geared up against the threat of terrorism.

Bipashyee Ghosh - Urban Mobility Transition in an Indian Megacity: Towards Smart and Inclusive Development

India is currently witnessing rapid urbanisation, population growth, rising inequality, urban poverty and climate change. Mobility in urban India is major concern owing to increasing travel demand, rising vehicles, pollution and congestion issues. This research aims to capture the changing dynamics of mobility in the Indian megacity, Kolkata by mapping actors, technologies and institutions around the key road based public transport system. The research addresses issues such as social inclusion of marginalised women in their preferred modes of transport and smart mobility in smart cities. The thesis contributes to the literature on sustainable and inclusive transitions for developing countries.

Alaa Hussein - Space Debris Removal with Lasers

Since 1957 spacecraft manufacturers have been putting thousands of satellites into space for many purposes. Most old satellites are dead objects orbiting the Earth at very high speed. These objects are threatening operational satellites and collision can occur at 35,000 mph. Therefore, even a centimetre-sized object can disable space systems or destroy small satellites and produce debris. We need to control the space debris environment. My thesis tackles this challenge by simulating the possibility of using lasers as a contactless deflection tool to reduce debris’ orbit and lifetime in orbit so it eventually enters the atmosphere and burns up naturally.

Andrea Jones - Who you might enjoy living with as you get older

This research explores what it takes to live successfully into older age in intentional communities in the South of England. These are communities of people that live together with a conscious intention to share their living space; examples are cohousing projects, housing cooperatives and ecovillages. The research is based on 23 interviews with members aged over 50 living in nine intergenerational communities, and explores the kinds of financial, cultural, social and emotional resources required to become and to sustain being a member, and the expectations these older members have of each other and of the community as they age.

Chloe Koulouris - Developing drugs targeting serine racemase as an entirely new approach to treating CNS disorders

Ketamine has been heralded as a ‘miracle drug’ for its profound ability to treat depression, even for those who have not responded to any other treatment. Probing the mechanisms behind this opens up entirely new drug discovery avenues – one of these is the enzyme serine racemase (SR), which is involved in the same biological pathway as ketamine. Finding ways of inhibiting SR is therefore a new, innovative approach to develop improved drug therapies and could entirely change the way we think about treating not only depression, but also other CNS disorders such as schizophrenia, neuropathic pain and Alzheimer’s disease.

Olaya Moldes - Does Spending Money Bring Happiness?

Money on its own might not bring happiness, but does spending money bring happiness? Research on discretionary consumption has determined that spending money on experiences brings higher happiness than spending money on material items (research by Van Boven & Gilovich). However, little is known on the role that personal values towards money, identity construction processes and time play on the affective evaluations of personal purchases. A deeper understanding of the internal psychological processes of self-attribution of affective value could guide consumers, the current force of global economic development, to change their buying behaviours towards a happier and more sustainable consumption.

Sandra Pointel - Sustainable Energy for All: What Perspectives for Ghana?

This research identifies governance challenges in sustainable energy transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa, focusing specifically on Ghana. Methodological insights include policy narratives and frames analysis, based on policy documents and semi-structured interviews with diverse actors involved in energy and climate change. The research aims to inform national and international policies about different pathways for energy developments, taking into account three potentially competing agendas: energy access, energy security and sustainable energy. It therefore links to the recently adopted National Climate Change Policy (2014) and Sustainable Energy for All Action Plan (2012) as well as global discussions on low carbon development and sustainable energy access.

Emma Scanlan - Poetry and Politics in Hawai'i

This research asks why so much Native Hawaiian nationalist literature takes the form of poetry and investigates the connection between politics and poetry. When Native Hawaiians began protesting American development and military activity in Hawaiʻi in the 1970s a simultaneous cultural revolution occurred. Poetry’s tendency to accommodate ambiguity provides way for Native Hawaiian activists to express the contradictions and ironies they repeatedly encounter in their political interactions with the US government. The symbiotic relationship between politics and poetry in Hawaiʻi is cultural and linguistic, and has resulted in a unique and surprisingly durable indigenous nationalist movement.

Anna Webb - Quantum Computing with Single Atoms

By harnessing the strange laws of quantum physics, it is possible to construct a device that could solve problems currently unsolvable by even our most powerful computers. A quantum computer promises huge computational power that could be applied a wide range of problems. My research focuses on the development of methods to build such a device. Quantum computers operate using the principles of quantum physics, which govern the very small. By using individual charged atoms (ions) as the building blocks of our computer, quantum phenomena such as entanglement and superposition can be exploited to perform the basic logic operations that constitute computational processes.

Sussex Researcher School