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Food Science student wins international award for thesis

Monday 7 December 2020 10:28am

Victoria 3MT
3MT winner Victoria Purdy and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Richard Blaikie.

Food Science PhD student Victoria Purdy recently celebrated her success as the Winner of the Peoples Choice award in the recent 2020 Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition.

Miss Purdy and Laura Schilperoort, a PhD student in the Sociology, Gender Studies and Criminology Programme, were the two Otago students selected to participate alongside eight others representing international partner universities in the Matariki 3MT® competition.

Miss Purdy received her certificate at the recent OUSA Supervisor of the Year Awards ceremony and described her involvement in the competition as very rewarding and she was thankful for everyone’s support.

“It was a fantastic challenge to really think about the reasons why I’m studying and researching what I am, and focus on communicating those main points concisely,” Miss Purdy says.

One of Miss Purdy’s supervisors, Dr Graham Eyres, says the 2019 Otago 3-minute thesis competition and the Matariki 3MT® competition have provided fantastic opportunities for Victoria to hone her presentation skills.  

 “Victoria is a star student, with a great talent for communicating the significance and impact of her research and a rare ability to express her science in an engaging and understanding way,” Dr Eyres says.

He adds that throughout her PhD to date, Victoria has also demonstrated great skills as a connector by working with collaborators at Plant and Food Research to organise provision of samples for her research.

Otago is one of seven international-leading research and teaching university members of the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) Partnership that has been running for ten years.

This is the second year the Otago has participated in the Matariki 3MT® competition which is a great platform allowing Otago finalists to present their research to an international audience says Andrew Lonie, Graduate Research School Manager.

“As we couldn’t have the Otago three-minute thesis competition this year due to COVID-19, we were lucky to have both Victoria and Laura, two of our 2019 finalists, submit their updated 3MT® video presentations to this year’s Matariki competition.”

Miss Purdy says it was also fantastic the competition was still able to go ahead this year with so many events been cancelled due to the pandemic.

“What was a novel online format developed last year to run the international competition was so relevant for keeping it going this year,” Miss Purdy says.

Her research involves ‘finger-printing’ the aroma compounds of a range of NZ hop varieties, including New Zealand's newest released hop cultivar, which will contribute to the expanding hops industry.

Miss Purdy says she would encourage anyone to take on a challenge such as the 3MT, as it’s a great opportunity to think about the main parts of your research and focus on communicating it to a lay audience.

“My advice for anyone who is keen to give it a go would be to keep it simple, have fun and really think about what in your research is exciting for a general audience to learn about.”

“It was very rewarding and also encouraging to see how many people are interested in my research and I’m very thankful for everyone's support.”

Story by Guy Frederick, Communications Adviser (Sciences)