20 April 2018

2017 YSSPer Nemi Vora

Nemi Vora is a PhD candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. She recently received the runner up prize at the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Pitt Competition. Below she describes how she approached communicating her research to a general audience.

© Nemi Vora

© Nemi Vora

2017 YSSPer Nemi Vora recently won the runner up prize at the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Pitt Competition. Her speech was heavily based on her work during the YSSP, which dealt with understanding the Food-Energy-Water nexus in the United States through quantifying opportunities and interventions in food trade networks.

Many young researchers are confronted with presenting their research to a general audience, and below Nemi shares her approach.

"Three-minute thesis, originally developed at the University of Queensland, has become a popular competition held at the University level across 600 institutes. As the name suggests, the participants are required to condense their PhD work in three minutes and cater to a general audience. I’ve always wanted to take part in it, and when my University hosted it, I took the opportunity.

As my YSSP work on food-energy-water nexus in United States will be part of my thesis, I integrated many results and insights from it. When preparing my talk, the biggest challenge was deciding which words qualify as jargon and avoiding them. 3 minutes was not enough time to explain some of the words essential to my work- such as “food-energy-water nexus”,” systems analysis”, and “aquifers”. So, I stuck to the essence of work- which was understanding connections between energy and water resources in agriculture and trying to balance their use. To explain data-laden spatial figures involving ecological networks, trade models, and groundwater aquifers, I stripped them of complex concepts and talked about groundwater sources as “blotches” on the map. Food security and environment conservation are serious topics and the narrative can get heavy and dark very fast, so I usually make it a point to state something obvious and ridiculous (e.g. stop eating food) to lighten the mood and proceed to talk about more actionable solutions."

Nemi receiving her prize at the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Pitt Competition.

About Nemi Vora

Nemi is a PhD candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. She participated in the 2017 Young Summer Scientist Program, receiving funding through the YSSP Fund. Her research involves modeling food-energy-water nexus at the country scale- with a focus on the U.S and is specifically interested in food security and trade, and complexity science.

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Last edited: 23 April 2018


Monika Bauer

IIASA Network and Alumni Officer Communications and External Relations Department

IIASA Network and Alumni Officer Communications - Communications and External Relations Department

T +43(0) 2236 807 223

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