BTI’s First FLASH SCIENCE! Speaking Competition

by | Mar 9, 2015

Flash ScienceBoyce Thompson Institute will host its first FLASH SCIENCE! competition on May 5 at 3:00 P.M. in the BTI Auditorium. Fifteen competitors have signed up to give three-minute speeches.

Graduate students or postdocs at Boyce Thompson Institute are eligible to compete.  The directive given to them is,”You’re deeply engaged in your research: you’ve mastered the literature, devised and executed some original and definitive experiments and have that 200 page thesis or publication in PNAS in your future. You know the jargon, acronyms and specialized technology of your field, and are confident you can discuss and defend your research with your graduate committee or any Ph.D. scientist on campus.  However, can you explain your research to a non-scientist such as your brother, aunt or grandfather? Can you clearly explain why you did your research, what you found, and the importance of the results without using any technical jargon or visual aids? Furthermore, can you do it in three minutes or less? In today’s world you need to be able to present your research quickly, accurately and effectively in a few minutes to a listener from that university, college or company at which you are seeking a position or with whom you are networking.”

Competitors will explain why they did their work, what they did, what they found and why it is important. The presentation must be made without any technical jargon, acronyms or abbreviations, without any visual aids or props and without notes. The presentation must be spoken, not sung or rhymed and must be completed in three minutes. A panel of judges, lmostly  non-scientific BTI staff members, will select a winner and a runner-up.

Difficult challenge? Of course it is. Worth the effort? The FLASH SCIENCE! committee, comprised of Professor emeritus Bob Kohut, and graduate students Annie Cruse, Daniela Floss, Barbara Hufnagle want it to be. The winner will receive an award of $500 cash, the runner-up will receive $200, and all entrants will receive a Wegmans gift card.

The FLASH SCIENCE! competition at BTI is based on the 3-Minute Thesis competition founded at University of Queensland, and now held at universities around the world. Examples of winning presentations can be found at

Contestants will have the opportunity to meet beforehand to receive advice about public speaking and tips for effective presentations, and might choose to compete in other campus-based competitions that will be forthcoming.  If all goes well BTI hopes FLASH SCIENCE! will be an annual event.

The FLASH SCIENCE! Working Group: Annie Kruse, Daniela Floss, Barbara Hufnagel, Bob Kohut

Sponsors: Gregory and Susan Martin, Bob Kohut, BTI President David Stern
BTI Communications team, Office of the Vice President for Research

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