Graduate students compete to entice viewers with their research

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen

Graduate students compete to entice viewers with their research

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen
The fifth annual Three-Minute Thesis Competition offers a window into the variety of student research happening at the University’s schools and colleges.

Kimberly Boswell saw the positive effects of cannabis to help ease depression years ago.

And once she saw the wave of states legalizing marijuana in this country, the economist also saw an opportunity for a rapidly growing industry. Since then, Boswell, an economics Ph.D. candidate at the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School, has explored how the nascent cannabis industry is impacting residents in states where it is sold widely.

As the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana, Boswell focused on California, and used data to investigate how cannabis dispensaries are affecting home values. Despite widespread misconceptions, she found that dispensaries often helped increase the price of homes around them. 

“I was able to shadow the head of a cannabis cultivation company in California to see the ins and outs of the market,” she said, adding that often the dispensaries spruce up the infrastructure around their business. “And my results aligned with what I was seeing on the ground.”

Boswell is one of 10 students who will be sharing their research at the Graduate School’s fifth annual Three-Minute Thesis Competition, which will be held virtually this Thursday, Feb. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. Some of the other competitors include Felicia Casanova, a sociology student who explored the barriers to health care for undocumented Latinx farmworkers living in the Homestead area; Nima Hosseinzadeh, a Ph.D. student in civil engineering who is exploring the use of an environmentally friendly concrete product that could fortify roadways so they crack less often under harsh weather; and Shannon Newberry, an architecture student looking into how inflatable structures infuse humor into building design.

These few represent the diversity and breadth of research happening at the Graduate School, said Tatiana Perrino, associate dean and organizer for the competition.

“It is so important to stay connected as a University community in these unique times, and what better reason to do so than by hearing about these graduate students’ intriguing research,” said Perrino, who is also a professor of public health sciences. “This year’s competitors are an extremely thoughtful group, and their research addresses pressing, present-day challenges in very creative ways.”

The competition will force these students to distill years of research into just three minutes to help them bolster their public speaking skills and to share their in-depth research projects with the University community. The judges for this year—Jeffrey Duerk, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost; Maria Stampino, dean of undergraduate affairs and professor of modern languages and literature; and Osamudia James, associate provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as a law professor; will determine a winner and make an announcement after the live presentations on Thursday night.

To attend the three-minute Thesis Competition, register here and be sure to choose the number of virtual tickets needed or email To read more about the competitors and their projects, visit the Graduate School’s website here.