Science Major Places 3rd in 2019 Three Minute Thesis Competition

Chemistry Ph.D. student Jay Suttapitugsakul lands in top 3

November 25, 2019

Editor's note: This story was adapted from a story posted on Nov. 20, 2019, by the Office of Graduate Studies.

Decipher the language of sugar molecules on cells. Use cold atoms to measure beyond the quantum limit? Predict how an oil spill will play out. Could you explain how to do any of these in three minutes?

On Nov. 14, 18 Ph.D. students and one master’s student took on the challenge of explaining these topics and others during the final round of the 2019 Georgia Tech Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition.

Among the finalists was Suttipong "Jay" Suttapitugsakul, a chemistry Ph.D. student. His presentation was "Not Just a Sugar Coating! Understanding the Language of Cells through Their Sweet Surface."  He placed third in the annual competition.

Suttapitugsakul studies the roles and functions of cell-surface glycoproteins by integrating mass-spectrometry based proteomics with chemical and enzymatic reactions. The goal is to better understand how cell type, cell state, and extracellular environment affects cell-surface glycoproteins in order to discover new biomarkers and drug targets. His principal investigator is Ronghu Wu, an associate professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Also competing on Nov. 14 was Lin Xin, a physics Ph.D. student. Xin's presentation was "Beat the Quantum Limit." His research is about doing precise measurements beyond the most precise quantum limit by using cold atoms. His principal investigator is School of Physics Professor Michael Chapman.

First prize and a $2,000 research travel grant went to Paola Zanella, a doctoral student in Aerospace Engineering, for her presentation, “Mitigation of Helicopter Accidents Related to Loss of Tail Rotor Effectiveness.”

Following is the complete list of winners:

  • Ph.D. First Place: Paola Zanella, Aerospace Engineering, Mitigation of Helicopter Accidents Related to Loss of Tail Rotor Effectiveness
  • Ph.D Second Place: Smruthi Karthikeyan, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Microbes, Oil Spills and Beyond: Using Microbes to Predict the Impact of Oil Spills
  • Ph.D. Third Place: Suttipong Suttapitugsakul, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Not Just A Sugar Coating! Understanding The Language Of Cells Through their Sweet Surface
  • Ph.D. People’s Choice Award: Jeongwon Kim, Mechanical Engineering, Suppression of Combustion Instability
  • Master’s Winner: Po-Wei Huang, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, A Sustainable Method to Alleviate the Global Thirst of Lithium

For more information about the 3MT Competition, visit

For More Information Contact

A. Maureen Rouhi, Ph.D.
Director of Communications
College of Sciences