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College of Textiles Students Win Top Places in 3MT

Three Minute Thesis
Winners of the 2018 Three Minute Thesis, pictured with Peter Harries, left, interim dean of the Graduate School: Ciera Cipriani, first place; Vivek Samu, People's Choice winner; and Engy Shafik, second place winner. (Becky Kirkland photo)

By Darren White

Two College of Textiles students were the top winners Oct. 30 in the 2018 Three Minute Thesis competition, sponsored by the Graduate School. The People’s Choice winner, chosen by vote of the audience, was a student from the College of Engineering.

First place winner Ciera Cipriani is a master’s student in textile chemistry, whose presentation was titled, “Shapely Molecules Prevent Dyeing Dangers.” She talked about her research seeking dye molecules in fabric that don’t create toxic substances when they break down. As the sun fades the dye in some clothing, the fabrics release toxins. Cipriani’s research focuses on how to create dye molecules that don’t break down when exposed to sunlight.

Cipriani earned a bachelor’s degree from NC State in polymer and color chemistry. As a master’s student, she works in the Vinueza labs, home to a library of nearly 100,000 dye and fabric samples.

Second place winner was Engy Shafik, a Ph.D. student in textile technology management, whose presentation was, “Diffusing an Electronic Waste Bomb.” Her research addresses the issue of how companies can make it easier for consumers to recycle or reuse much of the electronic waste – cell phones and other devices – discarded each year into landfills. Her model has the added benefit of reducing cost to the company. Shafik has had internships with Lenovo and FedEx.

Vivek Samu, a Ph.D. student in civil engineering, was voted the People’s Choice winner by members of the audience who were present. His presentation title was, “Looking Beneath Soil Using Hammer Impact.” He described how striking a bridge support with a hammer is an efficient and cost-effective means of determining how deep the supports go into the ground. It is one way to determine the soundness of bridges, especially bridges that are so old that records of the support depth don’t exist.

Samu is the recipient of NC State’s Award of Excellence in Classroom Teaching and the Coffev Graduate Fellowship Award. He is currently working on research with the N.C. Department of Transportation and the Alaska State Department of Transport and will be traveling to remote bridge locations near glaciers in Alaska to test them.

Three Minute Thesis, an international competition, challenges graduate students to share their research in three minutes with one slide. The finalists were chosen during preliminary rounds held Sept. 25-27, and the event is part of NC State’s Red and White Week leading up to homecoming. The competition was held in the Duke Energy Center of Hunt Library.

Greg Fishel, WRAL meteorologist and 3MT master of ceremonies, shows off his Graduate School t-shirt on the air
Greg Fishel, WRAL meteorologist and 3MT master of ceremonies, shows off his Graduate School t-shirt on the air Tuesday night.

A panel of four judges selected the first and second place winners from 10 finalists. The judges were Melissa Buscher, director of global communications and marketing, LORD CORP.; Rep. John A. Fraley, member, N.C. General Assembly; Jeff Pfeiffer, vice president and product officer, North America Lexis Nexis; and Marie Williams, associate vice chancellor for human resources, NC State University.

Greg Fishel, meteorologist for WRAL in Raleigh, was the master of ceremonies for the event. On the evening news cast, Fishel showed off the Graduate School t-shirt he received as a thank you for serving as MC.

Other finalists who competed in Three Minute Thesis are:

Agriculture and Life Sciences

  • Katherine Kelly, master’s student, animal science
  • Stella Nhanala, Ph.D. student, horticultural science
  • Hannah Wapshott, Ph.D. student, plant and microbial biology


  • Amber Hubbard, Ph.D. student, chemical and biomolecular engineering


  • Katharine Ahrens, Ph.D. student, mathematics
  • Nathan Corder, Ph.D. student, statistics
  • Melissa Gaddy, Ph.D student, mathematics

This post was originally published in Graduate News.