MARIA Murphy has completed an undergraduate degree, two masters degrees and devoted thousands of hours to her PhD studies.
But she points to competing in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, to be held at the University of Newcastle's Conservatorium on Friday, as "one of the hardest things I've ever had to do at university".
"Trying to concertina what you've been working away at part-time for three-and-a-half-years into three minutes is quite daunting," said Ms Murphy, who has presented her research at two conferences, but never this concisely.
"You'd think you could knock it over easily, but it's time consuming and a challenge to really drill down to the most important parts of your research.
"It's helped me hone my writing skills and narrow it down to key components to make it relatable."
Ms Murphy is one of 15 post-graduate students - three from each of UON's five faculties - who will showcase their innovative research in just 180 seconds and using only one PowerPoint slide.
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Professor Deborah Hodgson said students must explain "what they are doing; how they are doing it; and why they are doing it".
"It's a first chance for some of our brightest minds to share their research with the world," she said.
"It's also a real demonstration of the breadth of promising work being carried out by our Higher Degree by Research candidates, who are helping to pave the future of research and solve real-world problems.
"It fills us with a huge sense of pride."
Ms Murphy works for Hunter New England Health as both a dietitian in the intermediate stay mental health unit in Newcastle and as the clinical lead for nutrition and dietetics in mental health.
She wanted to do research that ticked the three boxes of physical activity, diabetes and mental health.
She said the Teachers Health Fund had found more than 30 per cent of its annual pay outs went to diabetes related care. Its charity arm put forward funding for research.
Ms Murphy's SMART Health Teachers Study followed 104 teachers with or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes for 18 months.
It used exercise and behaviour change techniques to help increase their physical activity and found that teachers increased their strength training, had better control of blood sugar and cholesterol levels and lower levels of anxiety.
She has almost finished the second of an expected six articles to be published in peer reviewed scientific journals, which will form her thesis.
The competition winner will receive $5000 and represent UON at the Asia-Pacific final in Brisbane In October.
Tickets to the competition are free but registration is essential via Eventbrite.