Eighth Annual Three Minute Thesis Competition

Event Date: March 1, 2024

Winners Finalists Judges Emcee Event Photos

Competition Winners

First Place: Mindula Kaumadi Wijayahena

Department: Chemistry

Advisor: Dr. Diana S. Aga

Biography: Hailing from Sri Lanka, Mindula is on a mission to make the world a safer place to live in. With a research focus on detecting and breaking down Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Mindula aims to eliminate the negative health effects of these “forever chemicals” in an environmentally friendly way. For fun, Mindula indulges in reading books, listening to music, hiking, shopping, cooking, and creating YouTube videos to teach chemistry to high school kids in their native language, Sinhala. In the future, Mindula aspires to work in research and development in a well-known industry while also being a visiting lecturer.

Second Place: Ameya Tandel

Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering

Advisor: Dr. Haiqing Lin

Biography: Ameya, from Mumbai, India, is on a mission to develop advanced water filters and membranes for textile wastewater treatment to provide drinkable water to society. In 2022 alone, 100 billion new clothes were produced, with 10,000 tons of dyes, and the existing filters or membranes lack good water purification properties for such a high volume of wastewater. To put it in perspective, 1,800 gallons of water are used to make one pair of jeans, contributing to two billion liters of textile dye wastewater. Ameya is determined to make a difference by developing and engineering surface-modified graphene oxide (GO) based filters or membranes for water purification. If he can connect just 1,000 membrane filters, it can purify eight million liters of wastewater in one year, and 250 membrane purification plants with 1,000 membrane filters can treat the whole two billion liters of textile wastewater produced in a year. When not researching, he enjoys dancing, playing video games and watching movies. Ameya plans to work as a research scientist in a company whose products directly impact human society and donate to schools and colleges in underdeveloped and developing countries.

Third Place: Alber Aqil

Department: Biological Sciences

Advisor: Dr. Omer Gokcumen & Dr. Charlotte Lindqvist

Biography: Hailing from Pakistan, Alber Aqil has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Munich and Buffalo. Alber's research aims to find out how long the indigenous people of Southeast Alaska have lived there. Using DNA from a 3,000-year-old bone, Alber shows that modern-day people from Southeast Alaska are most closely related to the ancient individual. In their spare time, Alber likes to explore different cuisines around Buffalo, read, watch TV shows, and cook. In the future, Alber would like to become a professor.

People's Choice: Sabrina Orsi

Department:  Pharmacology and Toxicology

Advisor: Dr. Roberto Pili

Biography: Sabrina Orsi aims to improve outcomes for kidney cancer patients by investigating the potential of dietary interventions to modulate tumor metabolism. She is an active member of the American Association for Cancer Research and loves to read, craft, bake cookies, take care of her plants and animals, and spend time with friends in her free time. Her future career plans include working in an industry setting to bridge the gap between preclinical research and clinical drug development to improve cancer care. Fun fact: Despite growing up in Virginia, her family is from Western New York and her mom went to UB. She saw the Sabres play in the Winter Classic, went to Virginia Tech and she loves Harry Potter.