Winners in ETSU's 2020 3 Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition announced

The 3MT® winners standing at the ETSU Foundation Carillon and Alumni Plaza, from left-right: Thomas Ntim, Sharon Bigger and John Teye-Kau.

JOHNSON CITY – Doctoral student Sharon Bigger won East Tennessee State University’s recent 2020 3 Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition with a presentation on “Advance Care Planning Protocols and Hospitalization, Rehospitalization, and Emergency Department Use in Home Health.”

This competition, created at the University of Queensland, Australia, provides graduate students the opportunity to develop professional presentation and research communication skills. Participants distill lengthy, complex projects into engaging, three-minute presentations designed for a general audience using just one slide. Audience members learn what students in master’s and doctoral programs are studying and gain insight into the future of research, design and innovation in a variety of disciplines.

Bigger, a native of Crofton, Maryland, who now resides in Asheville, North Carolina, is studying advance care planning (ACP) in home health and its relationship with acute care services utilization.

“Since ACP is a conversation about values, goals and preferences for future health care treatments,” she says, “it may affect agency rates of hospitalization, rehospitalization and emergency room use, which are considered poor outcomes in home health. ACP may improve these outcomes.”

After graduating in May 2021 with a Ph.D. in nursing, Bigger plans to teach nursing at the graduate level in such subjects as philosophy of science, nursing theory, transcultural health, ethics and nursing research. She would also like to conduct research in hospice and palliative care.

Bigger earned a B.A. degree in sociology from James Madison University in 1995 and worked as a medical interpreter (Spanish-English) before moving into nursing in 2002 upon receiving her AAS degree in nursing from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. She also holds an M.A. in philosophy and religion/women’s studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies and a B.S. in nursing from Western Carolina University. She has been a certified hospice and palliative nurse since 2005 and has taught nursing at the prelicensure, RN-to-BSN, and MSN levels.

Second place in the ETSU competition went to John Hayford Teye-Kau, whose thesis is titled “Synthesis of Phosphatidyl Ethanolamine for Model Studies of the Cell Membrane.” In his research, he aims “to understand the bacterial cell membrane composition and engineer robust membranes for microorganisms to help withstand fuel and maximize biofuel production.”

Teye-Kau, who is currently a research and teaching assistant in the ETSU Department of Chemistry, is from Odumase Krobo in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Before coming to the United States, he worked as a quality control analyst at Geo Medicore Pharmaceuticals Limited, Nsawam, Ghana; as a laboratory technologist at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Kwabenya, Accra; and as manager of Christ Presbyterian Church Cooperative Credit Union in Adenta, Accra. He earned his B.S. in applied chemistry at the University for Development Studies in Tamale, Ghana, in 2013. After graduating from ETSU in May 2021 with his M.S. in organic chemistry, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in medicinal/pharmaceutical chemistry and return to Ghana to work in herbal medicine and start his own pharmaceutical company. He also hopes to make an impact in medicinal chemistry as a lecturer.

Thomas Ntim received the People’s Choice Award, voted on by viewers. His thesis is “Understanding Plant Signaling Towards Improved Energy Crops.” In his research, Ntim says he aims “to understand how plants will survive and grow under different conditions and use this understanding to enhance plant growth and properties relevant to bioenergy production.”

Ntim hails from Offinso in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, and earned his B.S. degree in biochemistry in 2016 at the University of Cape Coast, where he worked as a research/teaching assistant. After graduating from ETSU in May 2021 with his M.S. in chemistry, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry with the aim of developing skills that would enable him to both teach and work in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

This is the third year ETSU has participated in this international competition, and the participating students gave their presentations virtually. By winning top honors in ETSU’s 3MT® event, Bigger will represent ETSU in the virtual Southern Regional Competition during the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools 2021 Annual Meeting in February.

The judges for ETSU’s 3MT® competition were Scott Treadway, actor with Flatrock Playhouse and entrepreneur; Dr. Bonny Ball Copenhaver, president of New River Technical College; and Sandra Harbison, communication specialist with the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.