La Trobe Rural Health School PhD wins Three Minute Thesis competition

Dentist turned rural health researcher Aurlene Jayadhas, has taken out the top prize and People’s Choice award at La Trobe’s recent three-minute thesis (3MT) competition with a presentation on the oral health of rural aged-care residents.

After moving from Chennai, India’s sixth largest city, to Bendigo in 2022, Aurlene sunk her teeth into a PhD exploring interventions to address poor oral health outcomes in aged care.

“It’s an area of research that I think resonates with people. Members of the audience came up to me afterwards to share stories about the health barriers facing the older people in their lives.”

The prize money from the Graduate Research School totalling $4500 will enable Aurlene to promote her research at upcoming conferences and provide incentives to increase participation among aged care residents in more rural locations.    

Aurlene describes the experience of distilling her research into three minutes as invaluable.    

“The most challenging part of 3MT was having the courage to get up there and share my work in an engaging and humorous way, rather than just stating facts about the project,” Aurlene said.  

“I have learned how to informally present my work in layman’s terms, which is so important to giving it a wider audience.”  

Terri Meehan-Andrews, a graduate research coordinator at the La Trobe Rural Health School, said Aurlene’s enthusiasm was infectious.

“The way she included humour, with references to George Lucas and Luke Skywalker, drew the audience in. She then explained the purpose of her research clearly and justified how she was going to do it.”

“Importantly, she clearly established the potential impact of her work.”

Aurlene will now represent La Trobe in the Asia Pacific semi-finals hosted by the University of Queensland this month.

For more information about 3MT at La Trobe see: 3MT® competition, Research, La Trobe University