Second Annual Three Minute Thesis Competition

Event Date: March 9, 2018

Winners Finalists Judges Emcee Event Photos

Competition Finalists

Ann Marie Butler

Ann Marie Butler headshot.

PhD Program: Transnational Studies

Advisor: Jonathan Katz

Biography: Anne Marie Butler is a PhD candidate in the Department of Transnational Studies. She aspires to challenge the landscape of contemporary art by prioritizing art and artists who are persistently overlooked by galleries, dealers and museums. Butler's dissertation focuses on contemporary visual art from Tunisia that uses sub-text to indirectly address Tunisian politics. Among her professional affiliations are the National Women's Studies Association, Middle East Studies Association and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies. In addition to her research activities, Butler enjoys cycling and Scrabble. Her future plans include obtaining a teaching and research position. 

Alok Deshpande

Alok Deshpande headshot.

PhD Program: Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering

Advisor: Andrew Whittaker, Ravi Ranade

Biography: Alok Deshpande hails from India and is a PhD student in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering. He is studying the effects that high temperatures have on concrete walls in nuclear power plants. Deshpande is motivated to determine how to design safer nuclear power plants by understanding the effects of elevated temperatures on the behavior of concrete. His hobbies include reading, traveling and cooking. His future plans include conducting research in the area of earthquake engineering.

Joshua Gordon

Joshua Gordon headshot.

PhD Program: Epidemiology and Environmental Health

Advisor: Jean Wactawski-Wende

Biography: Joshua Gordon is a PhD student in the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health. His research explores the association between oral health and high blood pressure. Gordon's ambition is to develop more effective ways to treat hypertension which contribute to heart disease and stroke. He is a member of the American Medical Student Association and the American Physician Scientist Association. Gordon's hobbies are rock climbing, hiking and playing guitar. After graduation, Gordon plans to work as a physician scientist.

Lynne Klasko-Foster

Lynne Klasko-Foster headshot.

PhD Program: Community Health and Health Behavior

Advisor: Marc Kiviniemi

Biography: Lynne Klasko-Foster is a PhD candidate in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior. She also holds degrees from the University of Rochester and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The purpose of her research is to discover a better understanding of the cognitive and affective components of risk. The goal is to protect a larger segment of the population from contracting HIV or cancer-causing HPV through understanding people's perceptions of personal risk. Klasko-Foster is a member of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and American Public Health Association. She is an avid runner and loves to bake. She aspires to become a research professor.

Jay Leipheimer

Jay Leipheimer headshot.

PhD Program: Microbiology and Immunology

Advisor: John Panepinto

Biography: Jay Leipheimer is a PhD candidate in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He is studying how the fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans, manufactures proteins that allow it to cause disease. Leipheimer is also using this fungal pathogen as a model to study basic molecular biology. He aspires to generate new findings that will aid in novel drug design and reveal base mechanisms that make all life possible. Away from the lab, Leipheimer enjoys watching Netflix, wine and beer tasting, and financial trading. For the future his "plan A" is to work as a biomedical researcher and "plan B" is to work as a bartender.

Souransu Nandi

Souransu Nandi headshot.

PhD Program: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Advisor: Tarunraj Singh

Biography: Souransu Nandi, originally from India, is a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Nandi's research focuses on designing control algorithms for a biomedical device called the artificial pancreas. His goal is for the artificial pancreas to mimic the actions of a normal pancreas enabling diabetic patients to live more freely. Outside of the lab, Nandi is a fan of playing board games and binge watching television shows. Upon graduation, he aspires to work as a full-time researcher to discover solutions that will have a large, positive impact on society.

Neeti Narayan

Neeti Narayan headshot.

PhD Program: Computer Science and Engineering

Advisor: Venu Govindaraju

Biography: Neeti Narayan earned a Master's degree from UB and is currently pursuing a PhD degree in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. In her research, Narayan is working to develop systems to automatically track multiple people across multiple cameras in real time. Her work has the potential to improve the quality of surveillance and identification in cluttered scenes such as at airports and train stations. In addition to her research activities, Narayan enjoys sports especially, racquetball and badminton. Her future plans include working as a faculty member at a university.

James Sackett

James Sackett headshot.

PhD Program: Exercise and Nutrition Sciences

Advisor: Blair Johnson

Biography: James Sackett is a PhD student in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. He is currently investigating the chemical control of breathing in humans during water immersion. The purpose is to discover the underlying mechanisms and dangerous consequences of carbon monoxide retention during underwater diving. Sackett is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Physiological Society. Outside of the lab, his interests include hockey, snowmobiling, hiking and baseball. Sackett plans to become a professor of exercise science.

Hao Zhang

Hao Zhang headshot.

PhD Program: Urban and Regional Planning

Advisor: Li Yin

Biography: Hao Zhang, originally from China, is pursuing his PhD in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. The focus of his research is on understanding the relationship between urban design and obesity in Shanghai. Zhang's goal is to mitigate the obesity epidemic in China as well as in other countries, by modifying the built environment. He is a member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) and the International Association for China Planning (IACP). Zhang's hobbies include painting, cooking, hiking and Tai Chi. In the future, Zhang plans to work as a university professor, think tank expert or entrepreneur.