Apr 24, 2024

LMP student sees 3-Minute Thesis success in French and English!

Programs: Graduate, Agile education, Impactful research
Juliette Blais-Savoie at the French 3MT competition
By Jenni Bozec

“It was a lot of fun. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to compete in both languages. I think it was a very unique experience,” said Juliette Blais-Savoie, an MSc student in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology who has recently won the French version of the 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) in Ontario. 

Juliette Blais-Savoie winning the MSc category at the French 3MT

Juliette took part in the training and coaching offered for the English 3MT competition in LMP. She made it to the LMP finals, securing a 3rd place prize, then entered the U of T-wide competition, making it to the semi- finals. While preparing her English 3MT she received an email from Acfas, a non-profit organization contributing to the advancement of science in the Canadian French-speaking world, to enter their French version: Ma thèse en 180 secondes (MT 180). Juliette did and won the MSc category.  

Held at Massey College, University of Toronto, the MT 180 included competitors from across Ontario including Western University, University of Guelph and University of Waterloo. 

The 3MT (or 3-Minute Thesis) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland, Australia in 2008. A graduate student has one slide and three minutes to explain their research to a non-scientific audience. LMP launched their own departmental competition this academic year, led by Dr. Laurent Bozec, Professor in LMP and the Faculty of Dentistry, who has been running 3MT competitions for over a decade.  

Juliette’s parents are from Quebec, but she grew up in California before she moved to Toronto so had only spoken French at home with her parents. “All my schooling and studying has been in English so speaking French about my research didn’t come naturally to me. The fact that this is a knowledge translation competition and everything needs to be in simple terms actually worked to my advantage”. 

As Juliette had already prepared her English 3MT, so knew her story, she thought translating it would be straight forward. “French is a beautiful language, but you do tend to use more words to say something. I had to cut out a few things as it is a harder language to be brief in - it really emphasized the challenge of the 3MT, which is brevity!” She also found it challenging as her 3MT was firmly in her head in English, so while performing at the competition all her thoughts were in that language, not French, which added more pressure. “There were a few of us with the same challenge. It was fun to chat with other bilingual people and see how we were all responding to that.”  

However, the training, coaching and experience she acquired in the LMP 3MT paid off. Not only did she understand how to structure her presentation to tell her story effectively - having the experience of performing in front of an audience in a safe space beforehand was incredibly valuable. “You can practice in front of the mirror as much as you like but nothing can simulate what it’s like to present, under pressure, in front of a live audience. The adrenaline, the nerves, seeing everyone watching you. Having had that experience already gave me so much confidence.” 

Dr. Bozec, as a French scientist, was invited to judge the competition and was delighted to see Juliette perform in French. “It isn’t often you see students take on bilingual challenges like this. It was fantastic to see her, and all the other competitors, present. Learning to communicate research in an accessible way is such a vital skill to learn and it is very rewarding to see the students learn these skills and then see success with them.” 

For Juliette, the experience of competing in three 3MT competitions this year has taught her much about language, performance, story-telling and most of all, given her confidence. “I’m so honored to have won first place. It has all been a tremendous experience and I would definitely recommend anyone from LMP to enter. If you speak even a little French, the bilingual contest is such a great experience.” 

Watch Juliette's performance in the LMP 3MT