Chapman’s 2022 Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition is now underway! Participants are judged along four dimensions: (1) how well the presenter shares their research in a manner that is accessible to the general public; (2) the organization of the content presented; (3) how engaging the presentation is; and, (4) the presenter’s skill in communicating their findings clearly. Learn more about the competition and how to enter here; preliminary round video submissions are due by April 1, 2022, at 11:59 p.m.

2021 first place and people’s choice award winner, Sook Mun (Alice) Wong, represented Chapman University’s graduate students when she competed at the Western Association of Graduate Schools (WAGS) annual conference earlier this month. Her multi-prize-winning Three Minute Thesis (3MT®), entitled “Whodunnit? Explorations in the Sense of Agency with Neurostimulation,” won first place and a $1000 cash prize and the People’s Choice award and a $500 cash prize at Chapman’s virtual competition. Alice participated in the regional WAGS competition against other graduate students from 21 institutions.

Alice is completing her Ph.D. in Computational and Data Sciences Program in the Schmid College of Science and Technology. Alice is engaged with the Chapman University Brain Institute’s research that looks at voluntary motion, action, and free will. Alice said she jumped at the chance to work on a research project with Dr. Uri Maoz studying neurostimulation because she is “personally interested in the cognitive side of the human condition and brain sciences. When you couple that with voluntary action to investigate the perception of voluntary action, that means looking into the sense of agency (over movements).” Alice’s research looks at how brains construct the sense of agency, more formally, the subjective sense of moving and controlling the body to make things happen. In the lab, Alice uses transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or electricity to stimulate the portion of the brain that controls thought and body movement. The results of Alice’s study show that you cannot tell if movement is voluntary or TMS induced. This confusion and these results mean future brain imaging research can help us understand the difference of how the healthy brain represents voluntary and involuntary movement. Further, this research can be a foundation upon which neurological and artificial prostheses can be developed to restore a proper sense of agency to those with a distorted sense of agency.

Alice believes the process of preparing for the 3MT competition gave her a chance to better understand and refine her research by clarifying her thoughts in order to compress a large amount of information into three minutes. Alice’s advice to future participants is, “you have to be able to tell what is important and what is not.” Alice recommends you listen to helpful feedback from colleagues outside the field when trying to calibrate the amount of information that goes into the 3MT presentation.

We congratulate Alice on her winning presentation at Chapman’s 3MT® virtual competition, and we are proud to applaud her win of second place and a $350 cash prize and “bragging rights in the west” for her research presentation at the WAGS 3MT® virtual competition. Here are the links to view Alice’s 3MT first win in session 3 (37:00) and Alice’s second place win 3MT in the Finals (32:30 & 38:03)!

“Are you up for the competition? Will YOU be the next graduate student to win 3MT®?

For more information on Chapman’s participation in WAGS and recognitions available to our graduate students, please visit our website or contact