The winner of Griffith’s 2014 Three Minute Thesis Challenge is Leah Coutts, a PhD student and piano teacher who is researching how to help adults overcome self-criticism when it comes to learning to play the piano.

During the three minute challenge, each contestant must explain the significance of their research in a way which makes it interesting and engaging to a non-specialist audience.

Leah’s presentation was entitled “I should be able to play already!” Silencing adult piano students’ inner critics”

“As a piano teacher, I have always desired to resolve the issue that adult students tend to be extremely hard on themselves and lack the focus and patience to develop good learning and practice strategies,” Leah said.

“My research explores the reasons this occurs and develops teaching and learning strategies to overcome them.”

As the first place winner, the Queensland Conservatorium student has won a thousand dollars and the opportunity to represent Griffith at the Trans-Tasman semi-finals of the Three Minute Thesis Challenge being held in Perth on 3 November, 2014. Should she succeed there it will be straight through to the final.

Runner up, PhD candidate Helen Leung is a student of the Griffith School of Languages and Applied Linguistics. Her presentation, which provided a fascinating insight into Cantonese language, was entitled “”What do Cantonese utterance particles mean?”

The undergraduate award went to Honours student Madison Kelly from Griffith’s School of Medical Science for a presentation on how her research is tackling cervical cancer through the development of a HPV specific molecular targeted therapy.

PhD candidate Jane Remington-Gurney from the School of Human Services and Social Work explained her research into improving strategies to enable people with communication impairments have their voices heard. Her powerful presentation won her the People’s Choice Award.

Dean of the Griffith Graduate Research School, Professor Sue Berners-Price said she is delighted by the growing enthusiasm for this challenge and ever increasing standard of entries.

“This is the fifth year Griffith has staged the Three Minute Thesis Challenge and I’m so pleased to see more and more students taking an interest, as it helps to develop critically important skills for early career researchers,” Professor Berners-Price said.

“Researchers must to be able to explain succinctly what their research is about to people who may not be experts in the same field. This will help them make successful funding applications, as well as allowing the broader community to understand the significance of their work.

“I would like to congratulate all of those who took part in this year’s challenge and I wish Leah all the very best for Perth.”