Communication is key for 3MT winner

UNBC Stories
Student wearing white blouse with green embroidery standing in interior hallway.
Natural Resources and Environmental Studies PhD candidate Sunny Tseng will represent UNBC at the Three Minute Thesis Western Regional Competition in late May.

Sunny Tseng set the scene for summarizing her post-graduate research at UNBC’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition by inviting the audience in the Bentley Centre to imagine being in a dark, snowy forest when a mysterious owl call pierces the night.

The Natural Resources and Environmental Studies PhD candidate mimicked the call of a Barred Owl and went on to describe her research into developing a vocalization model, using the frequency and duration of notes, to identify individual Barred Owls. Sunny won both first place in the competition and the People’s Choice Award and is thrilled to be representing UNBC at the 2023 Western Regional 3MT Competition at the University of Saskatchewan on May 25.

The international student’s passion for birds took flight during academic field work in the Siberian tundra.

“I have been interested in wildlife conservation and environmental studies for many years,” Sunny says. “But it was collecting the sound recordings of various precious birds and experiencing the splendid biodiversity during my field work in Siberia that made me decide to devote myself to conservation research studies.”

She was drawn from her home in Taiwan to Prince George and the pursuit of a PhD by the opportunity to work with UNBC Biology Professor Dr. Ken Otter, who specializes in avian acoustic research.

“UNBC has provided me with the resources and supports to develop my research,” says Sunny who has spent countless hours setting up audio recorders in the John Prince Research Forest, which is managed cooperatively through a partnership agreement between the Tl’azt’en First Nation and UNBC.

“I am so grateful for the unique environment at UNBC,” she says. “I get to work with such a diverse group of people out in the field and from industry. It’s given me the ability to communicate with people from different backgrounds.”

And Sunny says the 3MT experience has added another layer to her communications skills. “It has encouraged me to think more broadly, not only being able to communicate with people in the same research field, but also with public audiences.”

“The 3MT is such a special way of presenting research - I found it more like a performance than a formal presentation,” says the PhD candidate, who is looking forward to the Western Regional Competition.

“I am very excited to be meeting with students from different universities and different disciplines; exchanging ideas and sharing our passion for science communication; and even the potential for collaboration between universities.”

The Western Regional 3MT Competition begins at 12 p.m. PT on May 25