07 August 2013
Garvan Neuroscience PhD student Amy Nguyen, a member of Professor Herbert Herzog’s Eating Disorders lab, won the People’s Choice Award at the University of NSW Faculty of Medicine Three Minute Thesis event, held in late July. That makes her eligible to enter the UNSW Interfaculty final on 5 September 2013.
The 3MT Competition is a nationwide competition where postgraduate research students are asked to describe their research in language appropriate to an intelligent but non‐specialist audience in just three minutes. They are allowed one presentation aid, a static powerpoint slide.
The event is run in stages, first within universities, and then between universities, the winners of the intra-faculty stage progressing towards the finals.
At the UNSW Faculty of Medicine event, Amy competed against twenty-five other higher degree students, each presenting a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance.
Amy’s PhD research focuses on neuropeptide Y (NPY), a neurotransmitter released by the brain that regulates many aspects of metabolism, including appetite. Amy has found that blocking two very specific cell surface receptors (Y1 and Y5) in the brains of mice appears to reduce appetite.
Amy’s talk, entitled “To Eat or Not To Eat? That is the question”, used the analogy of a brick wall between the brain and a tempting piece of food at the other side –a hamburger and fries – to symbolise her findings. She believes her work could lead to new ways of treating obesity.
“I signed up for the 3MT Competition within the St. Vincent’s Garvan precinct, thinking that it would be a fun and different way of communicating my work,” said Amy.
“There are many social situations in which I am asked to explain my work to a non-scientific person and I find that, as a scientist, that is incredibly hard to do.”
“Prior to the precinct competition, those competing were given the opportunity to attend four training seminars, where we were given tips on how to present our material. We were also filmed, and gave each other feedback. That whole process was very helpful in building skills and confidence."
“I came runner up at precinct level, which allowed me to compete in the USNW Faculty of Medicine 3MT Heat. Moving from one level to the next was very challenging, although the first competition was almost like a dress rehearsal for the next event.”
“Now I’m reflecting on what I’ve learned so far to prepare me for the hurdle on 5 September!”