Research student wins Editor’s Choice award at 3MT final

Lachlan Hart

A UNE Master of Science student will receive national exposure for his research on the ancient ‘Lightning Ridge Croc’ after his project was selected by the editor of Cosmos Magazine to feature in the magazine.

The honour came as Lachlan Hart was representing UNE at the Asia-Pacific Three Minute Thesis (3MT) final at the University of Queensland recently.

And while he didn’t place at the event, his 3MT, “The Mistaken Identity of the Lightning Ridge Croc”, took out an Editor’s Choice award.

The school teacher and father-of-three admitted to being “stoked” with the result, despite finishing outside the top 10 (there were 55 competitors) in the final.

“I was okay with not making the top 10,” Lachlan said.

“To me, one of the key reasons for participating in the 3MT is to get your research heard and recognised, so I have achieved what I set out to do.”

Originally an online student from Sydney’s west, Lachlan uprooted his family and moved to Armidale to undertake the master’s by research in paleontology, focusing on fossil crocodyliforms, under the tutelage of UNE’s renowned fossil expert Dr Phil Bell.

Despite his heavy workload – he works four days a week at Sandon Public School – and busy home life, Lachlan had low expectations after not even making the UNE 3MT finals last year.

“The 3MT is a compulsory activity for all HDR candidates in the School of Environmental and Rural Science, so I wasn’t really expecting much this year, apart from ticking the box to say I had fulfilled this requirement,” he admitted.

But having participated last year he knew what to expect, so drafted a speech and spent a few hours making a slide.

“In the end all I was trying to do was tell an interesting story, and I’m lucky that my research a project has a good tale that goes with it,” he said.

To his surprise he won, quite an achievement when you consider his competitors were all PhD candidates.

“That made winning the UNE final all the more satisfying,” he said.

And what advice does he have others thinking about participating in the 3MT?

“Enjoy the moment – even if public speaking isn’t your thing. See it as a challenge, not a task,” he said.

“Speaking in front of people is something all academics must do. It’s part of the job, might as well get used to it.”