Published: Jan. 30, 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 Emma St. Lawrence, a doctoral candidate in media studies who focuses on affective media (how media affects human emotions) and new materiality (the role of non-human entities in how connections are made). Their 3MT presentation’s title is, “To Seek Newer Worlds: Mediating Reality in a Time of Plague.”

Emma St. Lawrence

Emma St. Lawrence

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

I study the way we use stories to make sense of ourselves and our world.

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

I've always been a strong believer in the power of stories and how they shape both our identities and the way we interact with the world. Even after investigating this core idea in my BA and MA, I found I still wasn't quite done thinking about it—and even in my last year of a PhD, I find I haven't yet tired myself out on the subject.

What is your favorite thing about the research you do?

All the media I personally engage with counts as research! Reading, listening, streaming, watching in theatres—every story I encounter helps me draw new connections and reframe how I view the vast, interconnected universe of modern media.

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

I've more-or-less done all my schooling at King's College London (BA) and University of Southern California (MA) back-to-back. On the way, however, I've been able to explore and work in a few different areas of the cultural sector (museums, film archives, film studios, arts promotion, etc).

What is your favorite food and why?

Pomegranates, but they've got to be the whole, fresh ones; none of the packaged seeds, please. They require effort and time spent taking the admittedly frustrating fruit apart, but they're so incredibly delicious and rich with reward.

Tell us a random fact about yourself

A monkey stole my ice cream once when I was a kid and I've hated all primates ever since.