Speaker on wolf pack success wins 3MT

Theresa Simpson at the front of the room speaking with a picture of a wolf and a map of Wisconsin behind her.

Theresa Simpson, a biology graduate student at UWL, won the 3-Minute Thesis competition on campus Feb. 13. In addition to studying at UWL, she is also part of the Timber Wolf Information Network, a non-profit organization that provides public wolf ecology workshops. Because of her passion for educating about wolves, her tendency is to go into too much detail, she says. She was excited at the opportunity to practice being more concise through the competition.

Three graduate students take home awards after timed thesis presentations

A biology graduate student who is writing a thesis on wolf pack success after growing fascinated with the wolves she spotted near her rural Sparta home, won both the People’s Choice award and first place in Wednesday, Feb. 13, 3-Minute Thesis competition.

The annual competition challenges graduate students to distill the complexities of their academic research into only a three-minute explanation in front of an audience and panel of judges from UWL and the La Crosse community.

Theresa Simpson, who explored factors behind wolf pack success, won the competition. Logan Keding, Biology, was first runner up and Katelyn De Starkey, Physical Therapy, was second runner up. All winners earned scholarships.

Logan Keding, a graduate student in biology, was first-runner up. His presentation was on Liver Toxicity of Vitellogenin Production.

Simpson says distilling years of research into a few minutes is a great practice every thesis-writing graduate student should do. It challenges one to think critically about the core of their work, she says.  It took her three days to get a page and a half of notes down to just one index card. “I have expansive research, so it is hard to winnow it down and leave parts out,” she notes.

Professor Meredith Thomsen, UWL director of Graduate Studies, presents the People’s Choice award to Theresa Simpson. Thomsen organizes the annual 3MT event.

She is very grateful for the latitude offered by UWL’s Biology Department to pursue her specific area of study on wolf colonization. Her work examines pack success based on the time of colonization and territory habitat. She found the first wolves to colonize an area chose the best habitat and were the most successful as a pack. Better understanding wolf habitat is important for wolf management as humans continue to co-exist with wolves. This co-existence is a challenge faced by many states in the U.S. — now and throughout recent history.  

“I chose to do my master’s at UWL because I could design my own masters,” says Simpson. “This allowed me to take the necessary geography classes that would enable me to perform the habitat analyses needed.”

The 3MT competition highlights the diversity of UWL’s graduate programs. UWL offers more than 30 graduate degrees and certificates in areas from science to health and wellness to business and management.  Offerings include on-campus programs and online and hybrid programs. Learn more about UWL graduate school programs.