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Ms Beatson triumphed among the eight PhD finalists, and Deanna Beckett (right), of the Otago preventive and social medicine department, was the best of three masters student finalists.
Contestants each have three minutes to outline their thesis and must comply with strict rules, or face disqualification.
Ms Beatson will now travel to Brisbane to compete in the latest international Asia-Pacific Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition on September 29.
Ms Beckett will now compete at the latest annual Masters 3MT Inter-University Challenge at Victoria University of Wellington on August 24.