3MT 2023 Finalist  Jemma Forgie

Jemma Forgie

Human Ecology, College of Natural and Applied Sciences

Nano-Mazes for Better Smoke Protection

Introduce yourself…

I am a master’s student in the Textiles and Clothing program in Human Ecology. I am fascinated by textile science, and love doing research which connects science, industry, and everyday life. I am also an avid crafter and maker, and you can often find me working on my latest knitting project outside of research.

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

I study firefighter protective clothing. Currently, firefighters are at a high risk of cancer due to their exposure to carcinogenic gases and vapors. I’m working on creating a membrane that can be integrated into protective clothing to lower exposure to these gases and vapours. I believe that this membrane can be a solution to lowering firefighter’s carcinogen exposure and increasing their occupational safety.

How did presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help explain your research to the public?

The 3MT made me think about my research in a different way. Before doing the 3MT, I had a hard time communicating to my friends and family what my research was about. When I explained it to them using the metaphor in my 3MT, it helped those close to me understand what I spend all this time studying, and why it is so important to me.

What inspires you to do research?

I am very lucky to be surrounded by so many great colleagues, and they inspire me to keep looking for answers. Our world is changing so quickly, and sometimes it feels like there is not enough time to find suitable solutions. However, when I see the research that those around me are doing and the impact it makes in the real world, I am inspired to continue building a solution, one step at a time.

What are three key words important to your 3MT?

Firefighter, Carcinogen, Pac-man

How does your research impact local, provincial, or global communities at large?

Fire is a part of daily life and accidental fires will continue to be an issue, even as society progresses. Therefore, the work of firefighters is essential at both a local and global scale. The occupation is already dangerous in terms of short-term health effects, but the membrane we are creating can help decrease long-term health impacts caused by chemical exposure. Although our current testing plan will best fit the fire protective clothing standards in North America, the concept can easily be adapted to fit standards of firefighter protective clothing across the world.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?

I would dedicate my research to the firefighters who continue to keep our communities safe against accidental fires. Firefighters have been doing this work for decades; before we had any equipment to keep them safe from fires. I hope this research can improve the safety of firefighters as they continue to do this selfless work.

3MT Image Description: Powerpoint slide containing an image of a firefighter in protective clothing, surrounded by smoke and flames. Above the firefighter, a maze with Pac-Man approaching a ghost is seen.

Watch Jemma's Three Minute Thesis