Published: Jan. 26, 2024

The 2024 Three Minute Thesis final competition will be held Feb. 7, from 4 to 6 p.m.

What is the best way to distill a multitude of information into just three minutes?

That’s the question ten graduate students will be wrestling with as part of the Graduate School’s seventh annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, which will be held in the University Memorial Center’s Glenn Miller Ballroom on Feb. 7, 2024, from 4 to 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

This event challenges students to explain their thesis to the general public. They are then evaluated by a panel of judges from across the university, including College of Arts and Sciences Dean Glen Krutz, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Associate Dean Charles Musgraves, Professor of Sociology Lori Hunter, and Physics Professor and Nobel Laureate Eric Cornell.

In the days leading up to the event, we’ll be featuring each of the competitors. Today’s is Zach Schiffman, a doctoral candidate in chemistry, with a focus on atmospheric aerosol. His 3MT presentation’s title is, “The Urea Molecule: From Fertilizer... to Climate Change?”

Zach Schiffman

Zach Schiffman

What did you do before coming to CU Boulder for graduate school?

I studied sources for green energy as an undergrad at William & Mary.

What led you to pursue your doctoral degree in your field of study?

I love to learn about the world around us, and I love to share my learning with others. Atmospheric Science is relevant to every person.

If you had to describe your research in one sentence, what would you say?

I study how molecules in the sky work!

What is your favorite thing about the research you do?

Writing, speaking, and meeting other scientists. All about science communication.

Tell us a random fact about yourself

I used to be a "ghost tour" guide in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, where I used to lead tours around in the middle of the night and tell them old ghost stories!