Femke Cnossen third in 3 Minute Thesis competition in Kraków

PhD candidate Femke Cnossen with the Faculty of Economics and Business came in third in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition held in Kraków, Poland, on Friday, June 7. ‘I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished.’
By René Hoogschagen / Translation Sarah van Steenderen

In the 3MT, PhD candidates present the research they’ve often been working on for years to a jury in just three minutes, using a single PowerPoint slide with no moving images. Qualifying rounds for the competition are held at two hundred universities all over the world. In March of this year, Cnossen won the 3MT at the RUG, earning her a spot in the international competition in Kraków as one of nineteen competitors.

Cnossen said afterwards that she was a little disappointed, but she’s mainly happy with what she’s accomplished. ‘It went really well. I practised hard, using a timer in front of the mirror. I had it memorised perfectly. I got great responses from the audience as well. I had a blast. I’m just really proud of what I’ve accomplished.’


The Groningen scientist studies how labour is subsumed by computers and machines and what this means for people. Will more people lose their jobs? Or will they be able to adapt?

A data set consisting of information on 25,000 Dutch people compiled over a period of five to ten years suggested that it depends on how easy it is to automate tasks. ‘Tasks that require creativity, social intelligence, or problem-solving abilities aren’t as easy to automate’, Cnossen said during her presentation. ‘It’s those qualities that make us human.’

Waste matter

Cnossen was up against Claudia Schmidt from Göttingen and Owen James from Edinburgh. ‘They were really good’, the Groningen researcher said. Schmidt won the competition with her presentation on how cells clean up waste matter. ‘She had a really fun presentation. She compared it with cleaning your room.’

James compared the speed of damaged connections in the brain to a computer’s ADSL connection. ‘Really cool’, said Cnossen.

Travel money

Third place won her a prize of one thousand euro in travel money. ‘It’s a pretty nice sum’, she says. ‘I’m sure I’ll find something nice to spend it on.’ Schmidt won three thousand euro, and James two thousand.

The three might have been rivals, but they certainly didn’t act like it; on Friday night, they went out to dinner together in Kraków. After that, Cnossen returned to her research. ‘I’m also doing exploratory research into people who are educated in twenty-first century skills, and if their chances on the labour market are better than others’.’


11 June 2019 | 11-6-2019, 12:51