Communicating a PhD thesis on complex adaptive systems theory in just three minutes is not a simple task, but Amy Kirkegaard did it in style to win the Griffith University Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition on Friday.

Amy, a PhD candidate in nutrition and dietetics, pithily illustrated her thesis using a photo mosaic of an apple made of up numerous portrait photos of individual people in a presentation called An apple a day brings quality into play. It proved the perfect metaphor for her work examining systematic quality in dietetics care in Australia.

“The idea to use the photomosaic actually came to me while I was making mybed one morning,” Amy laughed. “And an apple seemed the perfect image to use, given that my work is in dietetics.”

Griffith University 3MT 2021 runner up Julie Ballangarry.

“Complexity science theorieslook at howpatternsemerge frominteractions as individualsgo about doing things, and that can be applied to push for a higher overall quality of care from dietitians Australia wide,” sheexplained.

The picture that has emerged from Amy’s workengagingwithdietitians and their patients will form the backbone of her thesis, with a long-term goal of translatingthework into a set of Australia-wide guidelines as well asother efforts to drive quality care.

“We’ll be working to translate the research into the most impactful format to influence dietitians, and it would be wonderful if they bought in and championed these new approaches.”

The Griffith 3MT final was a virtual event. Each presenter pre-uploaded their presentation to YouTube, and they were played live one-by-one for the audience and judges over Zoom. You can watch all the presentations here.

As the winner, Amy receives $1,500 and now moves on to the Asia-Pacific 3MT final on 20 October. She can incorporate the judges’ comments and update her presentation, but one thing is for sure: the apple image, which earned plenty of praise, will be staying.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be named the winner of the Griffith round of the competition, and going on to compete against all the top presenters from all the different universities is going to be next level; I’m very excited by also a little daunted,” Amy said.

Griffith University 3MT 2021 people’s choice, Danielle Lee.

Julie Ballangarry from the School of Government and International Relations was runner up and won $750 with her presentation, Is the education system broken? The People’s Choice award winner was Danielle Lee from Institute for Glycomics, and she took home $500 for her presentation Game is on! Fungi vs antifungals.

The 3MT competition was first launched by University of Queensland in 2008, and is now held annually at universities worldwide, with over fifty events held across Australia, New Zealand and Asia before the competition culminates in an Asia-Pacific 3MT Final.

The competition is a professional development opportunity for Griffith PhD candidates, as well as a great opportunity to showcase Griffith’s incredible research across a broad range of disciplines and is open to active PhD and Professional Doctorate Research candidates who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone (including candidates whose thesis is under submission).

The Griffith finalists were:

  • Elise Imray Papineau (School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences), Radical Compassion and Doing-It-Together: Exploring grassroots activist cultures and praxes through feminist care ethics
  • Ida Stevia Diget (School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences), Using Google Translate for Covid-19 messages: The ‘tissue’ issue
  • Amy Kirkegaard (School of Health Sciences and Social Work), An apple a day brings quality into play
  • Laura McCosker (School of Medicine and Dentistry), Homelessness in the Time of COVID
  • Ziwei Zhou (Centre for Planetary Health and Food Security), Profiling the fruit flavour in papaya
  • Melissa Hill (Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery), Brain Traffic
  • Julie Ballangarry (School of Government and International Relations), Is the education system broken?
  • Danielle Lee (Institute for Glycomics), Game is on! Fungi vs Antifungals
  • Joseph Nolan (Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management), Building Better Relationships
  • Murooj Yousef (Griffith Business School), Social media advertising effectiveness in changing behaviour


4: Quality Education
UN Sustainable Development Goals 4: Quality Education