Rhodes University wins national #3MT competition for second year in a row

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First-place winner, Siphokazi Msengana
First-place winner, Siphokazi Msengana

Rhodes University's Siphokazi Msengana won first place at the national #3MT competition, securing the University's position at the top for the second year in a row.

After an internal judging event, hosted by the Centre for Postgraduate Studies (CPGS) and the Postgraduate Liaison Committee, two Rhodes University postgrads were identified to act as representatives for the national leg of the annual three-minute thesis (#3MT) competition.

The competition, hosted by the University of Free State, provides a platform for PhD students to share their cutting-edge findings to an audience with no background in their research area in three minutes or less.

"This is only the second year we have entered the competition, and both times we won first place. I think this says a lot about the research calibre of our students and the University as a whole," said Professor Sioux McKenna, Director of the CPGS.

Overall national winner Siphokazi Msengana received a R15 000 cash prize for her engaging presentation on natural ways to control the cabbage pest, the diamondback moth. The financial and environmental costs of artificial insecticides are prohibitive, but there are effective alternatives available, which Msengana and others in the Entomology and Chemistry Departments are busy investigating.

Her stellar thesis presentation is available here.

According to Prof McKenna, public communication of science is particularly important in an era of fake news and anti-intellectualism. "So, opportunities to share our work with a broader audience are more important than ever," she said.

Second-place internal winner and fellow Rhodes University representative at the national level, Marina Ngobeni, gave a thought-provoking thesis presentation on the impact of influencers' credibility on purchase decisions. It can be viewed here.

"At Rhodes University, we foreground the responsibility of producing knowledge as a contribution to the public good. Our studies must result in knowledge that can contribute to social justice and environmental sustainability and to the building of fields of study. The entries in this year's competition demonstrated exactly this commitment," Prof McKenna concluded.

All the Rhodes University postgraduate entries are available at the CPGS YouTube channel at the following link: https://tinyurl.com/RU3MT2021