Char Brecevic Wins 2021 Notre Dame Graduate School Shaheen 3MT® Competition

Author: Aaron Bell

Char Brecevic, Ph.D. student in the History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) ProgramChar Brecevic, Ph.D. student in the History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) Program

Char Brecevic, a Ph.D. student from the History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) Program, won the 2021 Notre Dame Graduate School Shaheen Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®) on Wednesday, October 13th on the stage in Carey Auditorium in the Hesburgh Library.

The Shaheen 3MT® is a competition open to all graduate students in which they explain their research in an accessible manner to an audience of specialists and non-specialists alike. The catch is that they are limited to one static slide to illustrate their work, and must finish in three minutes or less. Competitors present from a stage to a panel of judges in front of a live audience. 

Brecevic was awarded a top prize of $2000 for winning the competition. A second place prize of $1500 went to Ola Abdalsalam (BIOE) and $1000 to the People’s Choice winner, Kathleen Hayes (CHEM).

All nine finalists deserve recognition for placing in college-specific preliminary rounds to earn their spot in the finals.  The other finalists competing in the event were Sevda Arslan (ANTH), Luca Boccioli (PHYS), Nicolas Garcia (EE), Janeala Morsby (BCHM), Sarah Seto (PSY) and Vivek (CBE).

Brecevic’s presentation, titled “Managing Type-2 Diabetes: Imagining a Way Forward,” explores the problem of poor self-management among diabetics—resulting in deadly complications and increased healthcare expenditures. Her central argument is that knowledge and access to healthcare resources are not sufficient for successful self-management. Since type 2 diabetes is largely asymptomatic, most diabetics do not perceive any cues reminding them to take care of their condition—compare this to having a headache that is so painful one cannot help but stop and take some ibuprofen. If patients are most likely to engage in health behaviors when they see or feel a symptom, the solution lies in making visible that which is asymptomatic.

As a fellow with the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS) and the Notre Dame Technology Ethics Center (ND-TEC), Brecevic is working with her faculty advisors Professors Heather Douglas and Don Howard toward a solution such as this. Collaborating with campus partners to develop software allowing diabetics to visualize a simulated representation of what happens to their bodies when they engage in relevant health behaviors. The guiding hypothesis is that this visualization will enable diabetics to see how seemingly small choices about one’s diet, physical activity, and medication-taking habits affect their bodies—even when their body looks and feels no different. The goal is to provide a widely accessible visualization tool to all diabetics, especially those in underserved communities who are disproportionately afflicted with and affected by type 2 diabetes.

Brecevic will go on to compete at regional and national 3MT competitions against 3MT winners from other institutions.