Our fastest thinker

From left: 3MT Judges Professor Graeme Davison and Professor Kim Langfield-Smith, with award-winners Michael Cangkrama, Tanuja Rajah and Julia Gilmartin, and Vice-chancellor, Professor Ed Byrne.

From left: 3MT Judges Professor Graeme Davison and Professor Kim Langfield-Smith, with award-winners Michael Cangkrama, Tanuja Rajah and Julia Gilmartin, and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ed Byrne.

PhD candidate Tanuja Rajah can lay claim to being the University's fastest thinker after recently winning the annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) final before a crowd of more than 300 at Clayton’s Alexandra Theatre.

With just minutes to pitch her research to a panel led by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ed Byrne and senior Monash researchers, Ms Rajah was judged the best of an impressive field of nine finalists for her ability to convey her highly complex thesis in a clear, concise and humorous way.

Ms Rajah is the first representative of Monash Sunway to participate in the annual competition, and she will travel to Perth to represent the University at the Australian and New Zealand Three Minute Thesis finals in September.

The PhD candidate in immunology is researching the role of caspases during T-cell activation, and described her thesis, Caspases - More Than Just Killers, with emotive language, drawing on themes of love and death.

Caspases are enzymes that destroy cells to make way for new ones as the body develops.

Professor Maxwell King, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Research Training) said he was impressed by all the finalists.

“Communication skills are highly valued in the community, and when you conduct research it is important to be able to communicate your ideas,” Professor King said.

“The ability to distill complex information quickly is a valuable talent.”

Ms Rajah said her supervisor, Associate Professor Chow Sek Chuen, had encouraged her to enter the competition.

“He said that being able to explain our work in a simple way was a skill worth having,” Ms Rajah said.

“I am honored that the judges chose me to represent Monash at the finals.”

In addition to the trip to Perth and the right to represent the University at the transnational final, Ms Rajah also received a certificate and $1000 prize.

Julia Gilmartin was voted first runner-up and received a $500 prize, and Michael Cangkrama was awarded second runner-up and received $250.

The Australia and New Zealand Three Minute Thesis final will be hosted by the University of Western Australia on Thursday 29 September.