Sussex Researcher School

Sussex 3MT 2023

On Thursday 8 June 2023, six Sussex postgraduate researchers from a range of disciplines competed for prizes and a place in the UK semi-final of the Three Minute Thesis

Congratulations to all of our brilliant postgraduate researchers who took part in the Three Minute Thesis competition in 2023.

3MT 2023 Judges

  • Prof Seb Oliver, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor Research
  • Dr Chi-He Elder, Associate Professor in Linguistics, University of East Anglia
  • Dr Belinda Zakrzewska, 3MT winner 2022
  • Sam Kalubowila, Head of Recruitment & Retention for The Brilliant Club

3MT 2023 Results

  • Winner: Dominika Varga (Psychology)
  • 2nd Place: Imelda Dwi Rosita Sari (Education and Social Work)
  • People's Choice Award: Heather Williams (Institute of Development Studies)

Video Transcript

I ask you to remember a memorable time that you stand on the Brighton beach. You may be transported back to a sunny day, hearing seagulls, watching the waves and a pier in the distance as you spend time with your friends and family.

Memories have this amazing power to evoke rich stories within us.

Today I will share how our minds craft these stories. Traditionally, in the lab, memories are studied by asking people to remember a list of objects like: ice cream, beach ball, sun cream. But there is a big gap between these lab studies and rich real-life memories. 

With my experiments, I aim to breach this gap by using video games that capture the real life much better than watching the person looking for shells on the beach. With this, I can study how real world knowledge influences is making new memories. In our daily lives, we rely on our knowledge and expectations to understand and remember situations.

However, we often underestimate how much our expectations shape what we remember. In fact, my research shows that expectations can be stored memories. For example, imagine this situation where you are packing for the beach about to grab a sun cream but the sound of your doorbell interrupts you. 

Later you realise you left the house without the sun cream, mistakenly remembering packing it. Sounds familiar? Turns out that our minds sometimes create false memories that align with our expectations I found that people often misremember this person leaving the beach, with a collection of shells, despite the video being interrupted before she found one.

High expectations can fill in the gaps in our memories, creating the coherent story that follows a logical sequence of events. With clear beginnings and ends. So how does our brain make these coherent memories?

By measuring brain activity, we show that brain regions involved in perception, knowledge and prediction, all work in synchrony to piece together the puzzle of a known end situation. When we expect a situation is about to reach and end, our brain creates this coherent story, writing the whole experience into our memory. Breaching lab and real-life contrast is not only crucial for understanding how we make memory in the wild, but also to identify the processes that breakdown in memory disorders like Alzheimer's disease.

Furthermore, evidence that memories can be influenced by expectations, has implications for real world situations, like the justice peace, where accurate memories matter. And with that, I would like to leave you with a final thought - that our minds are the architects that shapes the gnar of the our lives.

Thank you.


Meet the presenters


Belen Martinez (Global Studies) - Taking the wheel in a man’s world

Only four per cent of taxi drivers in Spain are women. Though there is no shortage of initiatives to promote and include women in this male-dominated sector, this is usually voiced with an emphasis on the need to provide safety and better services for its female users. However, little attention has been given to the impact on women drivers themselves. What are the main challenges they face? How do they navigate the urban spaces that become their workplace? My project examines the opportunities and challenges that working as a taxi and platform-based driver offer to women.

Heather Williams (Insitute of Development Studies) - Caught in a Catch-22: Hanging our with social excluded homeless women in the UK

A small subset of homeless women in the UK are described as experiencing multiple exclusion homelessness and are hard-to-reach and under-studied. Marginalised and socially excluded women often avoid social services and remain elusive, which has implications for their health, safety, and how they view themselves and the world around them. In this context, I spent 12 months “deep hanging out” with socially marginalised homeless women, on the street. My research highlights the paradoxical scenarios in which they find themselves that lead to contradictory and inconsistent responses to deep social exclusion.

Anisha Debbarman (Global Studies) - Do I understand your educational journey?

Educational journeys for higher education involve a lot of commitments and sacrifices, and sometimes can be a difficult decision for students who do not have enough knowledge or experiences of life in another city. Here is a research proposal aimed at following the journeys of students who hail from underrepresented ethnic communities in India and depicts how these students find and connect with student associations who represent their needs within a university setting. This study examines how student reach out for support, sometimes beyond higher education and who supports them.

Imelda Dwi Rosita Sari (Education and Social Work) - The forgotten teachers in remote schools in Indonesia

Teachers in remote schools in Banten, Indonesia, face significant barriers to their professional learning (PL). These barriers are among others: the remoteness of their location and difficult road access; severe weather conditions like floods and earthquakes; limited facilities; and the unavailability of structured PL opportunities. Despite these challenges, these teachers construct creative ways to continuously learn so they can deepen their knowledge, enhance their skills, and improve the support they provide to their students. They learn from and collaboratively with other teachers and other people around them, from sacred texts (the Qur’an), and through the Islamic faith community (Halaqa).

Theresa Clementson (Media, Arts and Humanities) - Where’s your voice?

“Where’s your voice?” is a familiar question for many students and academics. It appears in feedback for many academic essays because voice is seen as an outcome in successful writing. But I see voice as an embodied quality that you start to feel when you can reflect your different identities in your work. I investigated this notion of voice through peer conversations about academic work without a tutor present. I found that students at all levels can find their voice through a dynamic process of learning mediated by peer dialogue. This process needs to be enabled by tutors and institutions.

Dominika Varga (Psychology) Making memories in the “wild” - bridging the gap between the laboratory and real life

Making memories is a fundamental aspect of life, giving us the power to travel back in time and predict the future. However, it is poorly understood how we make memories in the real world. By studying the brain and behaviour in controlled environments, scientists often reduce real-world situations to a series of unrelated words and pictures. My research combines complex real-life experiences and meticulous laboratory experiments by testing how people record memories of videos mimicking everyday life. This revealed novel insights into how our knowledge of real-life situations distorts memories and how our brain records information contradicting previous real-life experiences.

3MT Final and Festival Photos

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Sussex Researcher School