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Judges Reflect Breadth of Interest in Canada’s 3Minute Thesis Competition

The lead guitarist of the Tragically Hip, a radio production duo, and the director general of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, join forces this spring to judge Canada’s 3 Minute Thesis Competition.

“I truly enjoyed judging last year’s Ontario regionals and the thought of following this through to the national level is exhilarating, “says Hip’s guitarist Rob Baker. Baker, who received a BFA from Queen’s University understands the need for creative impact in reaching out to a general audience.

Radio producers Tom Howell and Nicola Luksic will also be on the judges’ panel. Both are responsible for developing CBC’s IDEAS from the Trenches. a popular series that takes themes from written dissertations and turns them in a full length radio documentary.

The duo has long been impressed by the scholarly rigour needed for a dissertation. That admiration has grown as they work with students to explore topics in a way that has wider appeal. It fits with the 3MT philosophy. “I’ve seen our project help PhDs develop stronger communications skills and appreciate the cross-pollination benefits of working with a team,” says Howell. “They develop an ability to be way more on point and understanding why their work is important.”

Dr. Danika Goosney’s career straddles both the academic and private sectors. “That’s made me a passionate mentor for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows looking to pursue academic and non-academic careers,” she says.

As director at CIHR, Goosney leads key files in science policy, health research training and capacity development, knowledge translation, and ethics.

Regional 3MT competitions are scheduled for

• Memorial University (Eastern Division) - April 27
• Wilfrid Laurier University (Ontario) - April 14
• UBC (Okanagan) (Western Division) - April 29

The national judging of the videos of 11 finalists from those events will take place in May and will be posted on the CAGS website.

Rob Baker

3MTBorn in Kingston, Rob picked up the guitar at age 12 and was soon playing in local bands. When the five-gig-a-week pace began to distract him from his studies (Queen’s University) he decided to pull back, finish his BFA, and just play music for fun with his friends. He has continued to do just that for the past 30 years ... writing, recording and touring internationally with the Tragically Hip. Currently the band is working on their 14th studio album at their studio in Bath, ON. 

When he’s not on the road or recording with The Hip, Rob spends time writing and recording in his home studio, studies other instruments (pedal steel, banjo, mandolin...), and occasionally collaborates with fellow musician and friend, Craig Northey. Their band Strippers Union has released two studio albums to date, neither of which received critical acclaim (they're really good though).
Rob and his Kingston band mates have been big supporters of their community, giving time, money, and profile to both local and national charities, focusing their efforts on medical, musical, and environmental causes.

Danika Goosney

3MTDr. Danika Goosney is Director General, Science, Knowledge Translation and Ethics at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She leads key files in science policy, health research training and capacity development, knowledge translation, and ethics. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Biotechnology Laboratory and conducted her postdoctoral research in the Department of Immunology at the Scripps Research Institute in California. She’s also worked as a research scientist at two Vancouver-based biotechnology companies. Dr. Goosney is a passionate mentor for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows looking to pursue academic and non-academic careers.

Nicola Luksic/Tom Howell


CBC radio producers Luksic and Howell team up to produce regular segments profiling the work of Canadian graduate students in Ideas from the Trenches.   Now, they team up to judge the 2016 Canada’s 3MT.  

As a documentary producer Nicola has travelled to war-torn regionals of the globe, worked with David Suzuki, CBC’s The Current, and produced an award-winning show about language.  She has a Masters of Journalism.

Tom Howell is an author, broadcaster, and recovering lexicographer who worked on the Canadian Oxford Dictionary. His semi-fictional account of our language is called The Rude Story of English,  Tom is a regular panellist on CBC’s weekly comedy quiz, Because News.


Three non-specialist judges will be viewing the top nine videos in the Canada’s 3MT competition. Here’s what they will be looking for from the winners.


  • Did the presentation provide a background to the research question being addressed?
  • Was the significance and context of the research explained?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?


  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?


  • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace; and have a confident stance?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate too long on one aspect?
  • Did the presentation feel rushed?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible and concise?

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia.


3MT How-To Video