Campus & Community

Explain your thesis in 3 minutes

2 min read

Seniors awarded for pithy presentations on topics ranging from gerrymandering to the psychology of schadenfreude

College seniors spend months researching and writing their senior theses, becoming experts on niche topics in a broad range of fields, from physics to philosophy. Those who entered the Pitch Your Thesis Competition, held by the Harvard College Writing Center, distilled those hours of work and hundreds of pages of analysis into a digestible, three-minute oral presentation.

Unlike last year’s inaugural Three-Minute Thesis event on campus, the 2020 Pitch Your Thesis Competition was a digital affair. Entrants each sent in a video presentation for judging, explaining their thesis topic and findings. The presentations, much like they would have been in person, were required to be logical, succinct, and without excessive jargon or unexplained terminology.

Hakeem Angulu ’20, a joint concentrator in computer science and statistics, won first prize for the video explaining his thesis, “The Voting Power Gap: Identifying Racial Gerrymandering with a Discrete Voter Model.” Second place went to Kelsey Ichikawa ’20, a neurobiology and philosophy concentrator, for a presentation on “The Reward of Others’ Pain: Imaging the Brain, and the Ethics of Schadenfreude,” and government concentrator Brandon Martinez ’20 received the third-place prize for a presentation on “The Politics of Electoral Reform in American Cities.”

Kelsey Ichikawa won second-place for her presentation on schadenfreude.
Brandon Martinez won third-place for his talk on electoral reform.