Samoan support thesis wins speed challenge
A man researching where troubled Samoans go for help has won Massey University's three-minute thesis challenge.
The challenge asked doctoral students to engage their audience in their research and get across what it is about in a lively presentation of just three minutes.
The four judges in Palmerston North yesterday were unanimous in awarding first place to Alesana Pala'amo from Albany.
He said there was a time when the pastor was the go-to person for troubled Samoans, and his research was looking at that and changes in the community.
Pala'amo said he was two years into his doctoral research and probably had another two years to go.
He was "humbled" to win against a strong lineup of contestants and said it was still "sinking in".
The judges said all the researchers were passionate about their work and that showed in their presentations. They all started strongly but many didn't have a strong ending, judge professor Bridget Haywood said.
She said the competition asked students to present a compelling talk about their thesis in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.
The winner came away with $1000 and gets to do battle with other New Zealanders and Australians at the University of Western Australia in Perth.
Runners-up were Ahmed Elwan, who talked about water as a source of life and death, and Kate Blackwood, who spoke about her research into bullying behaviour among nurses. They won $500 each.
The people's choice was Srishti Joshi, who researched spring onions, nitrogen and sulphur.
She said sulphur gave onions their pungent taste. She received $200 of book tokens.
A thesis usually takes eight to nine hours to present to people from the faculty. So this was a once-over-lightly to interest people in their research and hone up their presentation skills.
About 50 people, including other students, Massey University academics and some regional councillors were there.
There were nine finalists.