Ph.D. student Charity Njeshi presents at regional Three Minute Thesis competition

April 18, 2022 - by Sarah Igram

Charity Njeshi at Three Minute Thesis competition

Njeshi (second from right) with the other Three Minute Thesis competitors at MAGS

Charity Njeshi, a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Sciences, decided to enter Iowa State’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition last fall so she could explain her research to non-scientists without using complex terminologies.

After winning Iowa State’s competition in October, and making it to the final round of competitors at the 2022 meeting of the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS), she can proudly say that she achieved her goal.

“At the end of the final round, one of the judges walked up to me and said, ‘You did an amazing job. I know very little about science, but I could understand your work so clearly,’” Njeshi said.

Njeshi’s research is centered on developing a drug combination to treat river blindness, which is transmitted from person to person by blood-feeding black flies. No effective vaccine exists for river blindness, Njeshi explained, and people can develop resistance to the drugs currently used for prevention and treatment.

Njeshi chose Iowa State for her doctorate because of its good reputation for research and the friendly environment it offers to international students. Additionally, the research being conducted in Iowa State’s interdepartmental toxicology program aligned with her interests.

Last fall, Njeshi presented her research at Iowa State’s 3MT competition, where graduate students must present their work to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes and with one slide. After the presentations concluded, she was overwhelmed with joy to learn that she had won.

“It came to me as a surprise, particularly because it was barely my first year at Iowa State and I was still learning the different techniques involved in my research,” Njeshi said. “I was only communicating the idea, as I had not done much yet.”

As Iowa State’s 3MT winner, Njeshi was invited to present her research at MAGS’s regional competition. With more than five months between competitions, she practiced her presentation several times with friends, colleagues, her major professor, and a consultant from the Graduate College’s Center for Communication Excellence. After presenting at MAGS on April 8, she was excited to make it to the final round of competition and to meet her goal of explaining her research to non-specialists.

“Anybody can understand anything we want to communicate. It all depends on how well we simplify and explain it to them,” Njeshi said. “You can make anything complex, easy to understand.”

Tags: biomedical sciences, toxicology, three minute thesis, midwestern association of graduate schools