Graduate Student Visits D.C. for the Inaugural ACC 3MT® Competition and Research Forum

Graduate Student Visits D.C. for the Inaugural ACC 3MT® Competition and Research Forum

Brandon Applewhite with 3MT 2019 Champion Konstantina Kritharidou in front of the Capitol.
By Jessica Alvarez

Brandon Applewhite with 3MT 2019 Champion Konstantina Kritharidou in front of the Capitol.

Graduate Student Visits D.C. for the Inaugural ACC 3MT® Competition and Research Forum

By Jessica Alvarez
McKnight Fellow Brandon Applewhite had a great experience participating in the ACC 3MT® Competition and Research Forum

Within the ever-evolving field of tissue regenerative medicine, we find University of Miami graduate student and McKnight Doctoral Fellow, Brandon Applewhite. His research on restoring damaged tissue using the body’s natural mechanisms is not a simple process, but one he dives into fervidly. With a focus on spinal cord injuries, he is working with bioactive scaffolds that encourage nerves to regenerate after injury. As a McKnight Fellow, Brandon received the opportunity to attend the inaugural Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition and Research Forum in Washington D.C., which brought together 13 universities from the ACC’S Academic Consortium division. Brandon reflects, “I was able to really see the inextricable connection between researchers and the public sector.”

Although various topics were highlighted in this forum, one of particular interest to Brandon was the relation of policy to research. Brandon states, “from funding to regulations, policy plays an important role in what we can and cannot do as researchers which can be beneficial and hindering. In the case of animal research, there are stringent guidelines imposed to ensure animals receive optimal care and are not harmed which we all can agree is commendable. On the other hand, current policy on cannabis therapeutics makes it nearly impossible for researchers like myself to test the utility of these promising medicines in our own research.” Although this is only one example Brandon presented, there are many examples of obstacles researchers face when working in highly regulated fields.

Brandon particularly enjoyed the 3MT® presentations, where individuals have only 3 minutes to present their research in a quick and concise manner. Brandon “enjoyed listening to the diverse topics the competitors from each school presented and seeing the different ways they went about condensing very heavy scientific research into three minutes while retaining their enthusiasm and passion for the work they do.”

Being that this forum took place in Washington D.C., Brandon also had the opportunity to see some of the renowned landmarks in the City. This enriching experience offered Brandon into potential career paths he had not previously considered. He emphasizes, “Before this event, I never considered working for the federal government. After listening to the panel of scientists currently employed within the government, it opened my eyes to the opportunities available to someone with a PhD that are not just serving as a senator or representative. I do have a passion for writing and, now, a penchant for science advocacy so I think a role within the National Institutes of Health or National Science Foundation as a scientific writer or something along those lines would be rewarding.”

To learn more about the University of Miami’s participation in this event, read about it here.