If you asked Michelle Beltran how she feels about public speaking, she’d tell you she dreads it.
I am excited to meet the graduate students from different universities across Canada, and I look forward to learning about the incredible research that is being conducted by the 3MT participants.
However, she excelled at it during The University of Winnipeg 10th annual 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition in March, taking home first-place honours and a berth in the Western Regional 3MT Competition at the University of Saskatchewan on May 25.
“I didn’t even expect to win,” she said before laughing. “My supervisor, Dr. Danielle Defries, wanted me to sign up for some self-development.”
Beltran, who completed her Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Biochemistry in 2021 and is now a second-year student in the Master of Science in Bioscience, Technology and Public Policy program, says she’s both nervous and excited to represent UWinnipeg.
“I am excited to meet the graduate students from different universities across Canada, and I look forward to learning about the incredible research that is being conducted by the 3MT participants,” she said. “What began as a personal challenge to step out of my comfort zone and to face my fear of public speaking, turned out to be very rewarding. I feel honoured to have this amazing opportunity to represent the UWinnipeg at the Western Regionals 3MT Competition.”
Under the supervision of Dr. Defries, Beltran’s research interest includes understanding how short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) modify properties of enteric glial cells (EGCs), and if they may act as a potential therapeutic strategy for the attenuation of intestinal inflammation and intestinal barrier disruption.
Her UWinnipeg 3MT Competition presentation was Oh My Gut: Effects of Short Chain Fatty Acids on Enteric Glial Cells.
“This study will elucidate how SCFAs, by modifying EGC activity, attenuate intestinal epithelial barrier (IEB) disruption,” Beltran explained. “Overall, this will provide insight of EGCs physiological roles, and their potential use for preventing chronic diseases associated with IEB dysfunction.”
As she looks ahead to the competition next week, Beltran says her experience presenting in March will be helpful, as she now knows how to make her research easily digestible to a general audience.
With that said, she’s still working to refine her original presentation.
“I’m looking to improve my public speaking skills, and I’ll be getting coaching with that,” she said. “I’m also getting some help and guidance from the media team with my slide.”
If Beltran wins the Western Regional 3MT Competition, she will move on to the 2023 National 3MT Showcase in November, which is part of the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies Conference.