Five finalists will compete for first place in the 2023 Sheffield Hallam University Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition final taking place as part of the PGR Showcase on Friday 16 June 2023.  For further details of the PGR Showcase and to register your attendance please visit Eventbrite.

Meet the Finalists

Dareen Assaf, Social and Economic Research Institute

Female Underrepresentation in Syrian University Senior-Leadership Positions: Perceptions, Barriers, and Enablers

This study explores the experiences of Syrian faculty members in senior leadership roles to understand the barriers and enablers of female leadership in academia. The research draws upon theoretical frameworks of Pierre Bourdieu and feminist theories to understand how societal structures and power dynamics perpetuate patriarchy and limit women’s opportunities in leadership positions. 28 female and male academics were interviewed to identify obstacles and suggest ways to empower women in academia. Key themes included patriarchal and cultural practices, lack of diversity and equality discourse, exclusion, and symbolic violence against female academics. This research contributes to filling a literature gap by revealing insights from both genders and suggests ways to empower women in academia in Syria, where leadership is scarce and female leadership is unaddressed.


Sarah Boyce, Industry and Innovation Research Institute

Tackling Infections after Joint Replacement Surgery: A Novel Implant Coating

Joint replacements are amongst the most successful of all surgeries, with more than 250,000 performed in the UK last year. However, post- surgical infections occur in 1-3% of patients, which are difficult to treat and devastating to the patients quality of life.

Alteration of implant surfaces to prevent infection is a major research focus at present, including use of antimicrobial coatings. My research focuses on a tailored, localised antimicrobial release from a novel silica-based, biodegradable sol-gel implant device coating developed at SHU.

Antimicrobial activity and biofilm reduction by antimicrobial sol-gel coatings were assessed via disc diffusion and microdilution culture assays, alongside cytotoxicity and biocompatibility assays using bovine osteoblasts and human mesenchymal stem cells.

The ultrathin coating shows low cytotoxicity, strong biofilm reducing activity and antimicrobial activity comparable to antibiotics alone; indicating potential as a local antimicrobial delivery system to inhibit bacterial growth. Future work will develop and evaluate sol-gel performance in an ex vivo explant bone infection model which will reduce the need for animal experimentation.

The implant coating shows low cytotoxicity, strong biofilm reducing activity and has the potential to prevent infections, reducing the burden on healthcare and patient wellbeing.

Congratulations to Sarah who was the Sheffield Hallam Institutional Final Judge’s Choice Winner and also reached the Semi Finals of the Vitae National 3 Minute Thesis Competition.


Elysa Ioannou, Health Research Institute

Optimising Physical Activity after Gestational Diabetes

Women with previous Gestational Diabetes are 10-times more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes. Physical Activity is one lifestyle change that can reduce this subsequent risk. However, uptake and maintenance of physical activity in women with young children is low, with physical activity levels declining throughout the lifespan, particularly after pregnancy. Current Diabetes Prevention programs, while effective, have low participation rates by young women. This could be due to unique barriers faced at this life-stage. The present PhD therefore aims to better understand how to optimise interventions aiming to increase physical activity in women with previous Gestational Diabetes. A realist-inspired approach was employed to synthesise the data collected, iteratively. Theories as to what might work better, and understand what may not be currently working, were developed using a socio-ecological perspective. These theories will be used to develop recommendations, which will be further refined in a final consultation exercise with stakeholders.

Congratulations to Elysa who was the Sheffield Hallam Institutional Final People’s Choice Winner.


Danielle Kilgour, Social and Economic Research Institute

Sexual Harassment Between Young People: Identity, Culture, Pornography and Social Learning

Recently, there has been a significant increase in research into sexual harassment in schools; these studies have found sexual harassment in schools to be commonplace, some claiming that in many cases it is an everyday occurrence (AAUW, 2011; Ofsted, 2021; Shute, Owens & Slee, 2007). This research will be made up of 3 studies, study 1 will explore the terms and definitions used for sexual behaviours; study 2 will discover school staff and young people opinions and experiences of sexual harassment, PSHE education and barriers to reporting; lastly, study 3 will identify whether social learning, identity, culture, and exposure to pornography are linked to sexual harassment. An elevated risk of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, maladaptive dieting, early dating, substance use, feeling unsafe at school, depression and anxiety are possible impacts of sexual harassment. This is a vital area for further research due to these severe and adverse effects.

Harry Saxton, Industry and Innovation Research Institute

Enhancing Cardiovascular Diagnosis through Personalised Model Parameterisation

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Current diagnostic methods often rely on standardised population-based parameters, which may not accurately reflect the individual patient’s cardiovascular function. This research proposes a novel approach to enhance cardiovascular diagnosis through personalised model parameterisation. The study utilises sensitivity analysis and Kalman filtration techniques to combine medical data into lumped parameter cardiovascular models. Personalising the parameters of the models allows for a more accurate representation of the patient’s cardiovascular system, improving the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. The proposed approach has the potential to provide more individualised and accurate diagnosis, leading to better patient outcomes. This study has implications for the development of personalised healthcare and precision medicine in the field of cardiovascular disease.