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PhD Student Stays Calm Under Pressure to Win Three Minute Thesis Competition

Temrikar's mentor, Dr. Bernd Meibohm, described his student's work as innovative and original.
PhD student Zaid Temrikar, front, winner of this year’s Three Minute Thesis competition, said his mentor, Dr. Bernd Meibohm, in back, has been very supportive of his work and has encouraged him to build his research and presentation skills.

Fifth-year PhD student Zaid Temrikar almost missed his chance to compete in the Three Minute Thesis competition sponsored recently by the Graduate Student Executive Council and the College of Graduate Health Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Temrikar had briefly stepped out of the Schreier Auditorium in the Student-Alumni Center just before his name was called to present his thesis. A friend messaged him, and he hurried into the room, took the stage, calmly described the basics of his research, and in the end, walked out with first prize.

“I didn’t imagine my name would come so quickly,” said Temrikar, who received the people’s choice for another presentation in the same competition in 2019. He will graduate in 2022 and aspires to join the pharmaceutical industry and work in novel drug discovery.

During the annual Three Minute Thesis competition, PhD and master’s degree students have three minutes and one PowerPoint slide to present their thesis and research. The competition is designed to hone presentation skills and teach students how to share their research in language that is accessible to anyone. The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition was founded in 2008 by the University of Queensland.

Temrikar, under the mentorship of Bernd Meibohm, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, associate dean of Graduate Programs and Research in the College of Pharmacy, is researching drug development of anti-infectives to treat tuberculosis. He is focusing on dose determination, including how much of a drug should be administered and how frequently. His presentation was title, “Characterizing anti-tuberculosis activity of spectinamide 1599 on Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) using Hollow Fiber Infection Model.”

PhD student Zaid Temrikar's rapid-fire presentation on his research on anti-infectives for tuberculosis netted him a win in the Three Minute Thesis competition held recently at UTHSC.
Temrikar, who is originally from Mumbai, hopes to join the pharmaceutical industry after he graduates in 2022 and work in drug development.

Temikar said he believes the best presentations display a sense of passion for the work, break complex subjects down slowly and simply, and give the judges and audience an idea of the why behind the research. At least, that’s what he tried to do, he said.

He said Dr. Meibohm has been very supportive, as has the university. “Students here have a lot of resources to grow and develop and hone your skills.”

“Zaid’s research is focused on characterizing novel drug candidates for the treatment of tuberculosis, the most deadly infectious disease worldwide,” Dr. Meibohm said. “He specifically explores the effect of these new medications on different bacterial subpopulations in an effort to avoid or overcome drug resistance. Zaid’s work is highly innovative, original, and addresses a major unmet medical need with global implications.”

Cash prizes were given to the first- and second-place winners, as well as to the people’s choice. As the overall winner, Temrikar will participate in a regional competition in Boston November 9-11, with travel paid by UTHSC.

Other winners of the UTHSC competition, their mentors, and their research are:

  • Second place: Alise Farrell, MSN, RN, an instructor in the UTHSC College of Nursing; mentor Carolyn Graff, PhD, RN, FAAIDD, a professor and PhD program director in the UTHSC College of Nursing; “How parenting stress and child health contribute to child intelligence”
  • People’s choice: (tie) Amal Haji Assa; mentor Michael Carter, DNSc, DNP, FAAN, FNP/GNP-BC, University Distinguished Professor in the College of Nursing; “She (Mom) is not herself!” Delirium: The experience of uncertainty,” and Rachel S. Perkins; mentor Susan Miranda, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; “Bone cancer stem cells”

“Concise and clear communication is an essential skill,” said Donald Thomason, PhD, dean of the College of Graduate Health Sciences. “All of the presenters did a fantastic job of communicating the fundamental importance of their work in words anyone can understand. Kudos!”