James Asare from the College of Education has won Washington State University’s 2022 Three Minute Thesis (3MT).
In its eighth year at WSU, 3MT is a competition for doctoral students. Each student competitor gets only three minutes to give a compelling oration about their research. A panel of judges rates their effectiveness in doing this.
Asare, from the Mathematics and Science Education program, became the College of Education’s first-ever overall winner with his presentation about boundary gerrymandering and its effects on public schools.
As Asare explains in his presentation, gerrymandering is the practice of changing or manipulating boundaries of a constituency — often a voting constituency — so as to favor a particular political party or socioeconomic class.
Small shifts in school district boundaries can have big effects on where children attend school, as well as the representation they receive, Asare explains.
His research focues on preventing gerrymandering algorithms that are used by various political parties from perpetrating segregation.
“My research aims to curb inequities in the assignment of minoritized children in public schools,” he said in his presentation.
WSU’s Office of the Provost is the sponsor of the event. Heading into it, Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton said: “This competition provides an opportunity for our doctoral candidates to practice taking their complex research and focusing it into a concise and easily understandable message.”
Asare’s ability to do this well stood out to multiple judges.
One judge said they “understood the connections but wondered how prevalent the connections between political districts and school district boundaries was in the USA.” Another said it was “flawless” with yet another saying it was “such an important topic and very complicated to solve.”
As winner of the event, Asare receives a travel grant for $3,000 to be applied to a research conference of his choice.
“It was an honor to be selected,” Asare said. “I must congratulate the other contestants. Being able to qualify for your respective college is not an easy thing. And everyone did so well in this event. I’m just very pleased.”
Kailie Drumm from the College of Nursing won second place and a $1,500 travel grant. Mohammad Aghababaei from the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture took third place and a $500 travel grant.