September 1, 2023, by Lisa Chin

🎤 Beyond the Mic: Reflecting on the 3MT® experience

🔍 Discover the insights from our 2023 3MT® winners as they share their thoughts on their journey.

Masyitah binti Zulkipli from the School of Pharmacy clinched victory with her enthralling presentation titled “Malay Ghost Lime: Myth or Hope?”. She illuminated the astounding medicinal properties of a hidden gem from our native rainforests – the ‘limau hantu‘ or ‘ghost lime’ (Burkillanthus malaccensis).

In her winning presentation, Masyitah wove a narrative reflecting the impact of Covid-19 pandemic, spotlighting the rapid evolution of germs, and the necessity for innovative solutions. Addressing the rising threat of superbugs, she described her research exploring the medicinal potential of the enigmatic ‘ghost lime’. By combining its pure compounds with antibiotics, her research holds promise against drug-resistant bacteria and even Covid-19.

Masyitah envisions her research as a beacon, underscoring the vast untapped potential of our rainforests for pioneering therapeutic approaches, a pivotal step in offering solutions to impending health crises.

Reflecting on her 3MT® journey, she said that she initially had not considered joining, but with this as her last chance, she jumped in. The experience enhanced her speaking skills and bolstered her confidence. Most importantly, it taught her to simplify her work and communicate its real-world impact effectively.

“So, when I was asked to share my journey, I wasn’t quite sure where to begin. But let’s start with this: My passion for research has always been centered around discovery. Chemistry and nature have long intrigued me. So, when my first supervisor offered me the opportunity to work with rainforest plants, it didn’t take me long to say yes. And here we are. More than 80% of our medicine and pharmaceutical products originated from plants, and yet our rapidly declining rainforests are still underexplored. Take my research study, for example, the Burkillanthus malaccensis, also known as ‘limau hantu’. When we first started, we couldn’t find a single published paper regarding the properties of this plant. This speaks volumes about the untapped potential of our rainforests in the hunt for novel drugs and therapies, especially pertinent with the rise of superbugs and the recent Covid-19 pandemic. The good news is that we can preserve our rainforests while studying and utilizing them.

Coming to the 3MT®, I honestly never thought I would join. I remember when I first heard about this competition, I was like, “No way I will join this”. I know it’s possible to do it, since it has been going on for a while, but at that time I just couldn’t imagine myself doing it. I remember when I had to excuse myself from a compulsory Graduate School event one time because I lost my passion for a while. Yeah, it was bad. But I managed to get out of that phase (with a lot of help) and reach my TPP (Thesis Pending Period), finally. And since this year will be my last chance to join, so I did.

I’d say that the3MT® competition was definitely fun. Not only did it improve my speaking skills, like setting the right tone for my speech, but the feedback and rehearsal sessions gave me an extra boost of confidence. Of course, I was still nervous on the day of competition (duh, normal human nature) but the preparatory sessions made it easier and smoother. It also taught me to better simplify my work so audiences can quickly catch on about the research and its impact on the world.

I think Hui Ling and Lilian’s posts summarise the tips for 3MT®perfectly. You can check them out if you ever want to join. It’s okay to be afraid or uncomfortable. Know that the only way to overcome these feelings is to face them head-on and become stronger.” – Masyitah binti Zulkipli, Winner of UNM 2023 3MT®

Natasha Zulaikha binti Zahirudin, from the School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, emerged as the 1st runner up with her presentation titled “Coexisting with elephants”. Her captivating and exploratory presentation delved into the intricate realm of human-elephant coexistence, unearthing insights that hold transformative potential for conservation strategies.

She cast a spotlight on the mounting conflicts between humans and wildlife in tropical Asia, honing in on Malaysia where elephant habitats are dwindling. Drawing from comprehensive surveys and insightful interviews, her research is poised to uncover the underlying psychological factors that influence people’s readiness to coexist with elephants, particularly in agriculture contexts, with the aim of developing effective conflict mitigation strategies.

Natasha envisions that her research transcends the scope of elephant conflicts, addressing broader wildlife conservation challenges, a pivotal stride towards nurturing a harmonious coexistence between human societies and the magnificent wildlife that shares our environment.

Reflecting on her 3MT® journey, she discovered how to condense her extensive research into a format that resonates with people from diverse backgrounds. This endeavor challenged her to present her intricate work in a comprehensible manner that precisely hits the mark.

“Thanks to 3MT®, I am able to digest my research in an impactful way to share with people across all fields. The competition really made me think about how I should package my study in a way where it is relatable and understandable to a general audience.” – Natasha Zulaikha binti Zahirudin, 1st runner up of UNM 2023 3MT®  

Adriel Tan Yan Sheng, from the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, emerged as 2nd runner up with his artfully titled presentation, “Iron Ion Water Pollution: When You Should Not Love 3000”. His presentation resonated profoundly with its relatable content and essential message about one of the most fundamental aspects of human life – clean water.

Using an engaging narrative that commenced with a simple yet essential daily ritual – brushing teeth – Adriel adeptly unveiled the critical issue of iron contamination in water. He described his research developing a photoelectrochemical sensor that uses light to detect iron ions in water, with the aim to detect them even before visible discoloration occurs, offering a proactive approach to safeguarding water quality.

Adriel envisions his research not only as a preemptive approach for clean water but also as a potential advancement leading to a safer, healthier future, where the simple act of turning on the tap does not pose a hidden threat.

Adriel’s 3MT® journey imparted a significant insight: despite research’s propensity for technical jargon, there exists an avenue for conveying it creatively to a broader audience through relatable analogies and connections to everyday life.

3MT® has allowed me the chance to present my research not only to fellow PhD students from diverse fields but also to the general public. Throughout the training, one of the key things that I have learned is that while research is often loaded with technical jargon, there is always a way to creatively present it to the outside world through analogies and relating it to the everyday life. I encourage everyone to embark on this creative journey of trying to tell about your research in just 3 minutes.” – Adriel Tan Yan Sheng, 2nd runner up of UNM 2023 3MT®

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