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Graduate School Announces Winners of 3MT Contest

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 15:52pm | By: David Tisdale

Lacey WallaceLacey Wallace, an MBA (Master of Business Administration) student at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM), is the grand champion of this year’s Three-Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition, hosted annually by the USM Graduate School.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition is an annual communication skills development event and among the most important professional skills-development activities the USM Graduate School hosts. The competition requires students to present the significance of their research in a manner that can be understood by a general audience in less than three minutes, compelling them to deeply consider the value and broader impacts of their work. In keeping with the university’s commitment to health safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s 3MT competition required students submit their presentations as pre-recorded videos, which were viewed live by a panel of judges.

The 3MT® grand champion earns a $1,000 prize, as well as $250 as winner of their category. Wallace won the Social/Educational, Science and Business category. Wallace said she first identified an interest in conducting research as an undergraduate Honors scholar at Southern Miss, and over the summer continued her work with her advisor, Assistant Professor of Marketing Dr. Joanne T. Cao, with an independent study while in the MBA program to further investigate the impact of cultural values in sharing economy services. The title of her 3MT submission was “The Sharing Economy: Why Culture Matters” and can be accessed at

Wallace will go on to compete in the Three Minute Thesis Competition of the 2021 Virtual Conference of Southern Graduate Schools annual meeting Feb. 24-26.

“As the first MBA student to win the 3MT at USM, I ‘m honored and incredibly grateful to both the Graduate School and the College of Business and Economic Development (CBED), particularly the School of Marketing and my advisor, Dr. Joanne T. Cao,” said Wallace, who plans to graduate with her MBA in May 2021, then attain a doctorate and pursue a career in academia.

She also expressed gratitude for the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research Eagle SPUR Grant, which supported the data collection for both her honors thesis and graduate independent study.

“Through my participation in 3MT, I further developed my presentation and research communication skills by conveying the significance of my research to a diverse, multidisciplinary audience,” she said. “I enjoyed watching each participant’s video presentations, and I appreciate the university’s commitment to and support of student research.”

Wallace grew up in the rural community of Jayess, Mississippi, where “the cattle and chicken population far outnumber the human population,” she said. “However, what Jayess lacks in urbanization, it makes up for in Southern hospitality. Our small community deeply cares for each other, often sharing meals and hosting many family members and friends in their homes for local events.

“As I began to travel and see more of the world during college, I realized that these same societal bonds could be replicated through collaborative consumption (i.e., sharing)

communities, like Airbnb, who use technology to connect people who have a home with those who need a place to stay,” Wallace continued. “This discovery inspired my research topic, where I examine the role of cultural values in the sharing economy. Overall, my results provide new evidence that culture does play a role in impacting people’s beliefs and judgments about the sharing economy.”

Surabhi Jha of the School of Polymer Science and Engineering was overall runner-up to Wallace, earning a $750 prize. The title Jha’s presentation was “Deconstructing Plastics” in the Physical Sciences and Mathematics Category.

Other 3MT® category winners include the following:

Arts and Humanities

· Karlie Herndon, School of Library and Information Science, Title: The Victorian Nursey: A Legacy Space

· Jessica Luzardo, School of Social Sciences and Global Studies, Title: Grammatical and Conceptual Gender Using Common Nouns in English

Life, Health, and Environmental Sciences

· Tiffany Otai, School of Ocean Science and Engineering, Title: Understanding Paleotsunami Intensity in Japan

· Gabrielle Spellmann, School of Ocean Science and Engineering, Title: The Effectiveness of Living Shorelines at Preventing Coastal Erosion and Maintaining a Healthy Ecosystem

Physical Sciences and Mathematics

· Toby Edwards, School of Polymer Science and Engineering, Title: Study of Graphene Oxide and Polymer Interactions

Social/Educational, Science and Business

· Shianne Galuska, School of Communication, Title: Is the Media Polarizing the Abortion Debate?

Raegan Bishop, a graduate student in the USM School of Psychology’s Brain and Behavior doctoral program, said participating in the virtual 3MT® was both enlightening and fun. Her presentation was titled “Racial Bias in Pain Perception and Treatment among Healthcare Pre-Professionals.”

This year was Bishop’s first time to participate in the event, and she hopes to compete again in-person.

“Figuring out how to condense so much information into three minutes is not an easy task,” Bishop said. “In order to prepare, I had to sit down and really think about what I believed were the core parts of the project, and why they were important. After a lot of editing, practicing, and recording, I finally had a version with which I was satisfied.

“It definitely took some work, but I’m glad I had the chance to participate and inform other people about my work. In the end, I hope the people who viewed my presentation left with more knowledge about racial bias in healthcare, and why it is so important.”

USM Graduate School Dean Dr. Karen Coats said she was proud of all the students who participated, noting that “their presentations highlighted the outstanding and highly diverse research being conducted at Southern Miss by graduate students and their faculty mentors.” “While we all missed the live competition, there was excellent participation this year, including some fully online students who normally would not have participated in an on-campus event,” Dr. Coats continued. “We are also very grateful for the generous support of Provost Steven Moser and Vice President for Research Gordon Cannon, who helped fund this event.”

For more information about the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition, visit; or contact Lindsey Jones, coordinator of professional development/admissions specialist for the USM Graduate School, at or 601.266.4262.