Congratulations to Natalia Mühl Castoldi, a dedicated affiliate PhD student who was awarded first place in the QUT Faculty of Engineering and University Competition 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) with her presentation, ‘Backs to the Future: Modelling Scoliosis on October 6, 2023.

This is a significant achievement, marking the end of her PhD journey at QUT as she submitted her final thesis the day prior.

The 3MT was originally envisioned by Prof Al McEwan, the previous Director of the University of Queensland’s Graduate School who was inspired by QLD’s time of drought and 3-minute shower timers to create the elevated pitch competition back in 2008. 

The skill of effectively communicating research and its significance to diverse audiences is a crucial attribute for any accomplished researcher. QUT’s Graduate Research Education & Development hosts the annual Graduate Research Student Showcase, which includes the international competition, Three Minute Thesis (3MT) as part of our commitment to world-class researchers who can refine their academic, presentation, and research communication skills.  

Participants are tasked with the challenging assignment of summarizing their research and its significance in a concise three-minute presentation aimed at a non-specialist audience.  Natalia’s dedication and innovative research have garnered recognition from the judging panel, with the inclusion of biochemical effects in her model. This inclusion creates a more accurate model that can be used to investigate a wider range of theories of the cause of scoliosis. Once aetiology can be attained the treatment for scoliosis will improve dramatically, increasing positive outcomes for people with the diagnosis.   

Her ability to convey complex concepts succinctly within three minutes is impressive and gained her the ‘People’s Choice’ award at the Faculty of Engineering level competition, and to a very engaging presentation in the Asia-Pacific competition. 

Further, congratulations goes to runner-up Jacqueline Roots for her presentation ‘One ultrasound to unlock independence.’   

Overall it is fantastic to see the development of skills in the centre’s PhD students. This is an incredible acknowledgment for Natalia, the centre and her superiors who oversaw the project Prof. Peter Pivonka, Prof Vittorio Sansalone, A/Prof Laura Gregory, Dr Maria Antico, and Dr Dermot O’Rourke. 

Well done Natalia!