Liz Mahon on a Zoom screen

Liz Mahon presents at the 3MT NAGs Regional Competition.

Photo Credit: Liz Mahon

May 24, 2023

Ayla Cordell | Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


Liz Mahon, fourth-year Psychology PhD student, only had a few weeks to prepare for the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS) Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) on April 28. After winning first place in her division (Sciences), the People’s Choice Award, and the highest overall score at the Brandeis Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 3MT Competition on April 4 though, she was ready to rise to the occasion.

Liz’s presentation, a three-minute summation of years of research, required her to “start entirely from scratch and imagine how best to represent my research through a narrative that any person could easily understand.” Her talk, “Armed Against Alzheimer’s: How Your Voice Could Save Your Mind” was one of only fourteen to be selected for the NAGS 3MT, after judges reviewed 29 video submissions.

To refine her presentation for NAGS, Liz worked on expanding her discussion of methodology. This is a common critique from judges, as one judge from this year’s NAGS, Jeff Halverson, Associate Dean of UMBC in Baltimore, stated, “There was a great amount of emphasis on why studying this field was important…but I think a lot of us were wanting to see a little more meat…[and] details of the methodology.” Anticipating the importance of method to her talk, Liz came prepared with a presentation that–from the verbal presentation to the slide layout–told a compelling, complete story. As Halverson remarked, “All of us were taken particularly by the engagement of the speaker, the emotion, the expressiveness…the ability to tell a story and captivate and hook.”

“I’m not joking that I jumped almost a foot off my chair as my arms shot in the air and a huge grin spread across my face in glee,” Liz remembers, as she was named First Place winner for NAGS 3MT. As the overall winner in the NAGS regional competition, Liz will move onto the national 3MT competition organized by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) in December in Washington, DC.