The Engineer Has it in a GradSlam Event at UC Riverside

Graduate students explain the impact of their research to underscore the importances of the research enterprise

Joe Childers, dean of the Graduate Division at UC Riverside, congratulates GradSlam champion Peter Byrley, a graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. Michael J. Elderman

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — In a high-pressure three minutes, UC Riverside graduate students explained their research Monday, April 4, focusing on the impact, and the relevance to daily life. This contest is called GradSlam and it is held at every University of California campus to determine who will compete for the top spot in the University of California.

UC Riverside’s champion is Peter Byrley, a graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering. His talk was called: “Renewable Nanopower: The New Age of Earth Abundant Electronics.” Not only did he earn a $5,000 fellowship to support his research, but he will represent UC Riverside in the final round in San Francisco on April 22, with UC President Janet Napolitano as the master of ceremonies. The competition will be at the headquarters of LinkedIn.

The Riverside judges awarded a $2,000 fellowship to Liliana Gonzalez, a graduate student in Psychology, for her  talk on “Adaptation to Your Environment Compliments of a Dynamic and Ever-Changing Brain.” And the second runner up, Maurisa Thompson, from the Department of Creative Writing, earned a $1,000 graduate fellowship for a talk called “The Typist and What She Left Behind.”

Maurisa Thompson, creative writing, celebrates post talk. MIchael J. Elderman

Maurisa Thompson, creative writing, celebrates post talk.
MIchael J. Elderman

“Grad Slam is one of the most useful and rewarding events our graduate students participate in,” said Joseph Childers, the dean of UCR’s Graduate Division. “The contestants must grab the audience’s attention, teach something useful, new, and exciting, and underscore the impact of their research.” He said the finalists have practiced for weeks for this moment.

In Riverside the students were presenting to an audience and a panel of four judges: Dallas Holmes, a retired judge of the Riverside Superior Court; Joe Virata, UCR’s assistant dean of students; Cheryl Marie Hansberger, chief of staff for Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey; and designer and writer Michael Ferrera.

“We had competitors from across campus, indicating the breadth and quality of the research of our graduate students,” Childers said.

Other contestants were

Nichole Ginnan – Plant Pathology
“Microbiomes and Sustainable Agriculture”

 Dietlinde Heilmayr – Psychology
“Growing Healthy Humans”

Monique Mansour – Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts
“A Change of Place”

Melissa Morgan – Chemistry
“An Ecosystem Stress Test: Brine Shrimp as an Indicator for Distressed Salt Lakes”

Jaimie Stewart – Bioengineering
“Using RNA as a Versatile Engineering Tool Within Cells”

All the competitors with Dean Childers, far left, and Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, far right. Michael J. Elderman

All the competitors with Dean Childers, far left, and Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, far right.
Michael J. Elderman

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