The Meeting of the Minds conference, hosted annually by the University of Lethbridge Graduate Students' Association (GSA), celebrates the diverse research occurring on our campuses. 3 Minute Thesis™ (3MT) is an international research communication competition originating from the University of Queensland.

Top students from qualifying heats present their research in three-minute segments, in a way that general audiences can understand. These talks are quick snapshots of some of the fascinating work our students are doing. This year's winner will represent ULethbridge at the Western Regional Competition in May.

Here are synopses from this year's four award-winning presenters:

People's choice award | Fish Under Fire

Chloe Devoy | Master of Science student | Biological Sciences

"Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) are added to a variety of flammable products to increase their fire resistance. Despite their value in protecting against fire, there is concern about the effects of BFRs that enter the environment. 1,2,5,6-tetrabromocyclooctane (TBCO) is an emerging BFR that has been researched limitedly. In this study we tested the effects of dietary exposure to TBCO using Japanese medaka fish as a model species. It was determined that TBCO induces embryotoxicity and impairs reproduction in these fish and their progeny. This study will ultimately provide insight into the long-term effects of TBCO on as its usage increases."

Third place | Improving Executive Function Through Tactile Stimulation in Children Under Two Years

Sally Sade | Master Science student | Neuroscience

"The government of Alberta conducted a census to measure kindergarten readiness in children. The results showed that children in Alberta scored below the Canadian average, furthermore, Lethbridge’s children scored below Alberta’s norms. In response to these findings, the Building Brains Together (BBT) program created a curriculum composed of interactive games that have been shown to build executive function skills in 3–7-year-old children. The purpose of this project will be to assess the effects of a newly developed curriculum within the 0-2 age group."

Second place | Forgetting Alzheimer's: The Hidden Power of Cannabis Extracts

Danika Robinson | Master of Science student | Neuroscience

"Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder categorized by progressive memory loss and sweeping deterioration of one’s cognitive ability. Amyloid-β (Aꞵ) is a malignant protein that accumulates in the brain as AD progresses and is present in all forms of AD, making it a protein of interest. The immune system becomes activated in the presence of Aꞵ and triggers an inflammatory response. If the natural immune system cannot properly eliminate Aꞵ, it remains activated and over time, this prolonged inflammatory response becomes extremely damaging. Here presents an opportunity to treat AD and why my research on cannabis is necessary."

First place | From toys to tools: does play facilitate tool use?

Camilla Cenni | PhD student | Evolution and behaviour

"Tools are essential in our lives. But how did we evolve the ability to use tools? A prominent hypothesis in child development holds that by playing with objects, kids learn their properties and can later apply this knowledge to use these objects as tools. In my research, I am testing this hypothesis in monkeys, some of our closest relatives. Specifically, I am asking, does playing with an object facilitate its use as tool in monkeys? Answers from species closely related to us could add insights into our understanding of how and why tools are so pivotal in human life."