Carnegie Mellon University
April 15, 2016

LCS Ph.D. Candidate Places Second in Three Minute Thesis Championship

CMU president Suresh presents a $2,000 cash prize to LCS Ph.D. student Juliann Reineke.

On April 5, Literary and Cultural Studies Ph.D. candidate Juliann Reineke went up against nine other finalists from departments across campus who presented their doctoral research at Carnegie Mellon University’s annual Three Minute Thesis Championship (3MT ®). Reineke won second place for her research presentation titled “Three Sheets to the Wind: The Jolly Jack Tar and 18th-Century British Masculinity.” Over 70 Ph.D. students participated in the competition.

Kristina Straub, professor of English and Reineke’s dissertation advisor, was in the audience.

“Juliann gave the audience a compelling history lesson in how the British sailor, represented in novels and on stage, helped mediate between the violence of the real sailor’s experience at sea—during a century when Britain was nearly always at war—and his need to adapt to peacetime values of home and domesticity on land,” said Straub.

Reineke had only three minutes to present this thesis and its significance; and she could only use a single static PowerPoint slide at 3MT®, the internationally recognized competition that celebrates “exciting research conducted by Ph.D. students.” This is the third year Carnegie Mellon University Libraries has hosted the event, which began at the University of Queensland in 2008.

The nine finalists she competed against were from departments ranging from Biological Sciences to Physics to Mechanical Engineering. She tied with Shinjini Kundu, a Biomedical Engineering graduate student for second place.

Reineke, who was the sole presenter from the humanities, discussed her work in terms of the modern debate surrounding veterans and how society has competing images of them.

Literary and Cultural Studies Ph.D. candidate Juliann Reineke placed second at the 2015 3MT championship.

“My presentation revealed the confusion people have over veterans returning and potential violence, and how these representations affect the veterans themselves,” she said. “If we can think of it in that way we can see a lot of overlaps of what was happening in the 18th century.”

Reineke also looked to Carnegie Mellon’s Global Communication Center (GCC), which provides free communications consulting to the CMU community, for help in preparing her presentation.

As the Assistant to the GCC’s Director, Joanna Wolfe, Reineke trains tutors and will begin teaching graduate students in the fall on how to tutor and utilize cutting-edge research to effectively tutor in a communication center through the course, “Global Communication Center Tutoring Practicum.”

Reineke said she practiced a lot with Wolfe and GCC tutors Ryan Roderick and Nisha Shanmugaraj during the three months leading up to the championship—helping her convey her ideas clearly and getting the pacing and intonation of her speech just right to make it sound as natural as possible.

“In terms of professional development, these are crucial skills to have,” said Reineke, noting that these skills will come in handy when she goes onto the job market and eventually pitches a book to a publisher.

Wolfe said Reineke’s presentation was flawless.

“She did a great job taking something that could be perceived as obscure and made it come alive,” said Wolfe, who is also a teaching professor in the Department of English.

Wolfe added, “I think the competition is great for all Ph.D. students. They can put it on their CV even if they make it as a finalist—and you get the chance to win a cash prize or an iPad.” 

Reineke walked away with a $2,000 travel grant that she said will fund archival research at either the Smithsonian or Britain’s National Maritime Museum.

Last year, another student in the Department of English, Garrett Stack, who is a Rhetoric Ph.D. Candidate, won the first round of the 3MT® competition.

Learn more about Three Minute Thesis.

Related Articles:

Researchers Explain Complex Ideas in Three Minutes or Less

Ph.D. in Rhetoric Student Wins First Round of Thesis Competition

By Amanda King

Top Photo: Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh presents Literary and Cultural Studies Ph.D. candidate Juliann Reineke with her $2,000 award.