Biology student captures top prize at UBCO 3MT final

Master of Science Biology student Portiaa McGonigal gives her winning 3MT presentation in front of a capacity crowd.

Master of Science Biology student Portiaa McGonigal gives her winning 3MT presentation in front of a capacity crowd.

Graduate students compete for their share of $6,000

A compelling presentation of a topic all too familiar among Okanagan wine producers clinched the winning spot at last night’s seventh annual UBC Okanagan Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

Portiaa McGonigal, a master of science biology student, captivated judges and audience members alike with her presentation, “Crown Gall Disease of Grapevine: Investigating Management Strategies and Biological Controls.” She took home first place and the top prize of $3,000.

“It feels so great to have won this amazing competition alongside so many brilliant minds,” says McGonical, a graduate student in the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences. “I was nervous, but the desire to communicate my research was greater than the nerves. It was so incredible to have the chance to share my research with people outside my field and broader community.”

Kelowna’s Innovation Centre was filled to capacity for the event, which saw 11 graduate students explain years of research in just three minutes to a diverse audience.

Interdisciplinary Studies student Meg Yamamoto was awarded second place and $2,000 for her presentation, “Documenting Experiential and Artistic Interpretations for a Local Flora and Fauna Online Archive.”

Abisola Kehinde, a master’s student in biochemistry and molecular biology, was the crowd favourite taking home $1,000 for the alumni UBC People’s Choice Award for her presentation titled, “Developing an Infant Formula from Breadfruit.”

“Getting the alumni UBC People’s Choice Award means so much to me. It’s so encouraging that I was able to communicate my research and people enjoyed it,” says Kehinde. “3MT is simply amazing. It taught me how to slow down and communicate my research effectively.”

As the winner of the 3MT final, McGonigal will travel to this year’s Western Regional 3MT Competition hosted by the University of Alberta on April 21.

From there, the top three presenters will win an opportunity to compete in the national competition, hosted by the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies.

About UBC’s Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC-ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities-the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

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