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Entries in grad slam (58)

Tuesday
Feb162016

Registration Now Open for 2016 Grad Slam Competition

UCSB's Grad Slam competition is back, and it's better than ever! Here's what you need to know and how you can sign up to participate in this year's competition, scheduled for April 4-15.

What is the Grad Slam?

Launched in 2013, Grad Slam is an award-winning campus-wide competition for the best three-minute talk by a graduate student. Participants are judged on the basis of having a clear and effective presentation that is geared for a general university audience and has demonstrable intellectual significance.

Why should I compete?

For fortune and fame, of course! This year, we're giving away more than $15,000 in cash and prizes, including a Grand Prize of $5,000. Plus, the winner will get to compete in a UC-wide Grad Slam competition for the chance to win even more money!

I'm intrigued, but I need a snazzy video to entice me more.

Here you go!

I'm sold. Where do I sign up?

Glad you asked! Click here to fill out the registration form. The deadline to sign up is Friday, March 11. (Note: this is an extension of the original deadline of March 4.)

OK, I signed up. Now what?

We will be launching the 2016 Grad Slam page soon, but in the meantime you can check out previous years' competitions for more information. And be sure to stay tuned to The GradPost for more information on workshops, resources, and more to help you craft and refine your presentation. If you have questions, you can email Robert Hamm.

Tuesday
Oct132015

Grad Slam Is ‘Perfect Practice’ to Tell the Stories of Research, UC President Napolitano Says

UC President Janet NapolitanoIn a column this week on the independent news and commentary website The Conversation, University of California President Janet Napolitano wrote of the responsibility of the academic community to “ensure that the work and voices of researchers are front and center in the public square.” And she praised the Grad Slam, which had its origins at UC Santa Barbara under Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti, as an excellent way to accomplish that.

Scientists, President Napolitano said, should be seen as regular people asking and answering important questions. She added that society needs more scientists who can explain what they do in language that is both compelling and understandable to a lay audience.

“At the University of California, we pride ourselves not only on the quality of our research, but also on its contribution to improving aspects of the world we live in,” President Napolitano wrote. “It also is possible,” she added, “to have some fun in demonstrating the broad, societal significance of research.”

Having “fun” for a “serious purpose” is how she describes the Grad Slam. Following is an excerpt of her remarks about the UC Grad Slam. To view her full column on The Conversation website, read “Why more scientists are needed in the public square.”

***

“Last May, I had the opportunity to emcee the first-ever University of California system-wide Grad Slam.

The Grad Slam asked UC graduate students to take their years of academic toil and research, and present their work to an audience in just three minutes, free of jargon or technical lingo.

Think of these presentations as TED talks on steroids or the ultimate in elevator speeches. Each of our 10 campuses held a local competition, and the finals took place at our system-wide headquarters in Oakland. Several of those finalists are featured on The Conversation’s website [including Daniel Hieber, UCSB’s Champion who went on to take second place in the UC-wide Grad Slam].

While it was a fun event, the purpose was very serious.

Good, sound science depends on hypotheses, experiments, and reasoned methodologies. It requires a willingness to ask new questions and try new approaches. It requires one to take risks and experience failures.

But good, sound science also requires clear explanation, succinct presentation, and contextual understanding. Telling the story is half the battle, and Grad Slam is perfect practice.”

Monday
Apr272015

Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Selvi Ersoy Pursues Science 'Theatrically'

Selvi ErsoySelvi Ersoy. Photo courtesy of Selvi ErsoyFifth-year doctoral candidate in microbiology Selvi Ersoy is many things to many people and most of these things are awesome. To women in science and engineering, she’s known as the Co-President of WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering). To her undergraduate students, she’s known as the most enthusiastic TA ever (and winner of the 2014-2015 Academic Senate Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award). To fans of the 2015 Grad Slam, she’s known as the finalist who asked, “Is your doctor killing you?”

Selvi grew up in Cupertino, California (yes, that Cupertino) to a Turkish father and an American mother. She was named Selvi, which means tall and beautiful in Turkish. When someone like me says she’s halfway there, someone else always chimes in “Halfway there? Selvi’s not tall.”

Selvi had plans other than science when she was younger. She loved to dance, to sing, and to participate in musical theater. She scoured schools for theater programs. But after her mother strongly implied that success in the theater arts would be a failed experiment, she went on to pursue science “theatrically,” earning a B.S. in Genetics at UC Irvine with a minor in Medical Anthropology. She received her M.A. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at UCSB on her way to her doctoral degree.

I had seen Selvi at the Grad Slam preliminary and final rounds and found her to be one of the most animated and funny presenters. She turned out to be just as animated and funny during our interview. We talked about everything from what she learned during her "lost year in grad school" to her yoga progress to why she loves teaching (and why her students love her back). She also had some good advice for future Grad Slam competitors.

What is the one thing people would be most surprised to know about you?

Selvi in CabaretSelvi in Cabaret. She can still do that kick. Photo courtesy of Selvi ErsoyWhen I was growing up I was really, really into musical theater. I loved it. I was in lots of musicals. I loved dancing and I was taking dance lessons, vocal classes, doing drama club, and theater. As a junior in high school, I looked into all the college dance and performance programs. When I told my Mom, she was just like, “No, you’re not going to do that. You need to do something practical.”

So, let’s talk about your research now. Apparently, you kill a lot of mice. How would you describe your research in such a way that doesn’t make you look like a killer?

I study how the host influences bacterial antibiotic resistance and the genetic mechanisms of those changes in bacteria.

Good, concise answer. You participated in the 2015 Grad Slam and made it all the way to the finals. Why did you get involved?

I thought, “What would be more fun than giving a three-minute pitch in front of people and being funny?” That seemed like a blast to me. The cash prizes were also a huge incentive, and clearly a big motivator. I think I would have done it if there weren’t the cash prizes, but I may not have worked so hard.

Getting to preparation. How did you work so hard?

For me, I practiced my pitch every time I was alone. I’d just start saying it out loud. Sometimes I’m in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, saying “Is your doctor killing you?” you know, doing all the hand motions. Thinking, “Oh my god, I hope none of my roommates are hearing this.”

Selvi making it simple at the 2015 Grad Slam Finals. Credit: Sonia Fernandez

What advice you would give future participants so they can win?

I practiced a lot and I tried to get advice from people. After each round, I tried to hear what people were saying to make it clearer. One of the problems with my pitch was that it was a little complicated. I tried so much to simplify it.

If you want to be a champion, just make it as simple as possible.

That’s good advice. On the subject of advice, what advice would you give to an incoming graduate student now that you’re in your fifth year?

Student Spotlight LogoI thought when I started grad school that people were just going to tell me what to do, tell me how my project was going to work, you know, tell me what I’m going to figure out and I would just do x, y, z and be done. Working in a lab, it’s not like that at all. It’s very open-ended. There’s not a clear path. You really need to work early on to figure out what your path will be. That’s your best chance for success.

If you’re going to succeed and finish grad school and escape with your sanity, you have to take everything that you’ve done, everything that didn’t work or that was a setback, and somehow think of it in a positive light. I spent a year doing stuff that just didn’t work. The only way I could reconcile my effort was to say I gained a lot of practice with my bench work, that I now knew how to set up an experiment very efficiently.

So it seems like you learned how to handle stress. How do you relax?

Selvi doing aerial yogaSelvi doing aerial yoga. Photo courtesy of Selvi ErsoyI’m obsessed with yoga! I started in grad school. My labmate said, “Let's do some yoga at the Rec Cen.” It was good exercise. I felt physically stronger. Then I started going to a studio (Better Days Yoga in Goleta). Instead of once a week, I went all the time. When things weren’t working out in my lab, I could go to yoga and see my improvement there.

You recently won the Academic Senate Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Tell me more about your teaching experience? What has helped you become “outstanding?”

I generally teach upper-division genetics courses: 101 A and B. I also teach the bacterial pathogenesis lab. What I like about teaching, especially when I get to teach genetics and bacterial pathogenesis, is the subject. I find it very interesting.

When I started teaching, I got so excited before my first class. While coming up with my lesson plan, I remember thinking, “How am I going to explain this to my students?” When I got to class, I just said, “Hey everybody, I’m so happy to be here!”

Selvi Ersoy and her labmate Jessica Kubicek-Sutherland at the April 2014 UCSB TEDx conference. Photo courtesy of Selvi ErsoyThat’s something that all my students wrote on my evaluations, even to this day: “Super enthusiastic TA!” I think since I was so excited about teaching, the students got more enthusiastic to be in class.

Because of that, I started getting lots of emails from students asking questions about class. They felt really comfortable emailing me. I wrote back detailed responses about how to solve problems. And then I started getting more personal life questions from students like, “I’m thinking about applying to grad school. What do you recommend?” “What do I do after I graduate?” or “How do I find a research lab?”

I really care about all my students. I try to learn as many names as I can. I make an effort. And I bully them into writing good evaluations. Just kidding. “You better write me good reviews, guys!” (She laughs).

Who has helped you along the way?

Selvi Ersoy in the lab, perfecting her bench work. Photo courtesy of Selvi ErsoyMy parents were the ones that told me, “No to theater. Yes to science.” They always said, “You’re really good at math, you’re really good at science, you should do those things.”  They also had high expectations and I felt I had to meet those expectations. I didn’t hate that. I’m really happy with that guidance.

My labmate Jessica Kubicek-Sutherland also helped break me in to grad school. She told me, “This is what’s going to happen.” What to expect and not to expect. I think if I had been alone, I may have just dropped out. I was really glad to have her there to help me out. I was her little mentee.

Also, my advisor made me grittier and tougher, and I appreciate that. I need to be able to handle things when I’m not perfect, when I screw up.

What is the one thing you hope to be doing 5 or 10 years out of graduate school?

I’m definitely planning on getting a postdoc position for a few years to do my research. Depending on how that goes, I might go on to be a professor. 

Friday
Apr242015

Cheer on UCSB at Live-Streaming Event for UC Grad Slam on May 4

At the inaugural UC systemwide Grad Slam tournament, to be held on May 4 in Oakland, 10 graduate students will compete to explain their research in terms that will interest, excite, and engage the public – and do so before the clock runs out.

The spirited contest will offer participants an opportunity to see these talented scholars in action, and offer a unique window into the breadth and impact of graduate research taking place across UC campuses. The first-place winners from each of the 10 participating UC campuses will compete to capture the systemwide prize, including a total of $10,000 in award money for the top three participants.

UC President Janet Napolitano will lead the event. A distinguished panel of judges representing industry, government, and higher education will select the winner, who will be named immediately following the lunch reception.

The event is invitation-only, but UCSB's Graduate Division will be live-streaming the contest on May 4 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Student Resource Building Multipurpose Room. Come cheer on UCSB's Grad Slam Champion Daniel Hieber as he competes to win the grand prize and bring the coveted trophy to its rightful home in Cheadle Hall.

The contestants will be (in order of appearance):

  • Davis: Ryan Dowdy, Food Science, "Powering California with Food Waste"
  • Berkeley: Alexis Shusterman, Chemistry, "COMonitoring in HD"
  • San Diego: Alex Phan, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, "Fight for Sight"
  • San Francisco: Sama Ahmed, Neuroscience, "Choosing Mates: How to Know Your Species"
  • Irvine: Ashley Fong, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, "Stem Cells: How to Mend a Broken Heart"
  • Riverside: Jeanette Rapicavoli, Plant Pathology, "Primed for Battle: Utilizing Microbial Patterns to Strengthen the Plant Immune System"
  • Santa Cruz: Justine Smith, Environmental Studies, "Humans as Top Dog: Ecological Effects of Carnivore Fear"
  • Santa Barbara: Daniel Hieber, Linguistics, "Renaissance on the Bayou: Reviving the Chitimacha Language"
  • Los Angeles: Jean Paul Santos, Electrical Engineering, "How to Talk to Mars"
  • Merced: Nathaniel Bogie, Environmental Systems, "Drinking from the Same Straw: Battling Drought Stress in the African Sahel"

2015 UCSB Grad Slam winner Daniel Hieber. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Monday
Apr202015

Grad Slam 2015 Final Round for UCSB: The Right to Represent

The 10 finalists were acknowledged by the audience and Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti before they took questions. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Winning logo design by Lennon Grinta

At last we've arrived at the Final Round for UCSB 2015 Grad Slam. It's been a long, weary road to the Finals and lots of tears were shed on the way, mostly mine. If you weren't one of the hundreds in attendance at Corwin Pavilion on Friday afternoon to bear witness, this is what went down.

The UCSB Final round featured 10 winners from the Semifinal rounds vying for vast sums of money, bragging rights, and the right to represent UCSB at the UC Campuswide Grad Slam Final in Oakland on May 4. The finalist hopefuls entered the room, looking their best, hoping to grasp the blue ribbon of greatness, but only one left the room with the Grand Prize and a date for future glory. While only one became UCSB's Champion, all were winners. The finalists were surprised to learn that each would receive a free speaker from sponsor Sonos. Other corporate sponsors this year were Yardi, which provided the $5,000 Grand Prize, and QAD.

There was a packed crowd in Corwin Pavilion for the Finals. Credit: Patricia MarroquinHere are the 10 finalists and their far-reaching topics.

  • Sarah Abdul-Wajid, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Using Sea Squirts to Find New Genetic Factors Controlling Birth Defects.” Sarah's research on sea squirts will help prevent a birth defect that affects one in 1,000 human babies. Her detailed slides provided audience members with images of what she sees under her microscope.
  • David Copp, Mechanical Engineering: “Closing the Loop: Engineering an Artificial Pancreas." David's research will help regulate blood glucose to aid diabetes patients. His mathematical algorithms can run continuous glucose sensors more effectively, and one day may help run an artificial pancreas.
  • The ribbons, glass trophy, and Sonos speakers are displayed onstage. Credit: Patricia MarroquinSelvi Ersoy, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Killing Me Softly with Antibiotics.” Selvi's presentation showcased the problems with current protocols in antibiotic efficacy testing. She compared lab test environments (in which antibiotics are tested in a lab broth akin to a Caesar's Palace buffet) to actual physiological environments (in which antibiotics face immunity systems that rival the tenacity of Mr. T) in order to show that scientists have been determining antibiotic dosing all wrong.
  • Matthew Gebbie, Materials: “Simplifying Nature's Invention: Engineering Mussel Proteins into Biomedical Glues." Matthew's research takes inspiration from the way that mussels adhere to surfaces in aqueous environments as the basis for developing simplified versions of these adhesives in order to produce more positive and less traumatic outcomes in orthopedic surgery.
  • Abel Gustafson, Communication: “Predicting Election Outcomes Using Wikipedia.” Abel demonstrated how the communication patterns of Internet users using sites such as Wikipedia can predict the outcome of United States political elections with greater accuracy than the traditional prediction models that are made from public opinion polls.
  • Daniel Hieber, Linguistics: “Renaissance on the Bayou: Reviving the Chitimacha Language.” Daniel is working with language documentation material recorded over 70 years ago in order to revive the Chitimacha language in Louisiana, to write a dictionary, and even create Rosetta Stone style software.
  • Lakshmanan Nataraj, Electrical and Computer Engineering: “Photographing Computer Programs to Identify Malicious Software.” Lakshmanan wants to stop malware. His research looked at computer programs in a completely different way: as digital photographs. His programs looked for patterns in these images, similar to how we would look for patterns in our daily photos, and then trained a system using Artificial Intelligence to identify malicious software programs.
  • Jessica Perkins, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “Life Cycle Assessment: There's More to the Story.” In a courageous move, Jessica turned off the PowerPoint slide projector and asked us to focus on the ballpoint pen in her hand. She encouraged us to think of all  the depleted resources, carbon emissions, and waste created in the making of this simple pen. Her life-cycle assessment research can help identify the unintended consequences of our materials and manufacturing decisions. "I could have told you about the projector, but we probably would have been here until the morning."
  • Erik Spickard, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Gonads to Guts: Reprogramming an Organ in the Nematode C. elegans.” Erik is trying to figure out why a little worm's gonad turned into a second gut when a particular gene was turned on in the worm. He believes that this process of changing one organ into another (or "transorganogenesis") could revolutionize the way that doctors treat failing or dysfunctional organs in humans.
  • Yan Wencheng, History of Art and Architecture: “Writing Modernity: Constructing a History of Chinese Architecture, 1920-1949.” Wencheng explained that although demolition comprises the majority of current Chinese urban architecture, there is no vocabulary to describe the process. She seeks to help shape the new vocabulary of modern Chinese architecture for architects, art historians, and others.

After a suspense-filled deliberation, the judges crowned one UCSB grad student Champion for the 2015 Grad Slam and the right to fight on for UCSB glory, while also acknowledging two other students as Runners-Up.

And the UCSB 2015 Grad Slam Champion and winner of $5,000 is ...

Daniel Hieber

And the Runners-Up are ...

Abel Gustafson

Jessica Perkins

The winners of the 2015 UCSB Grad Slam: Champion Daniel Hieber (Linguistics), center; and Runners-Up Abel Gustafson (Communication) and Jessica Perkins (Bren). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Kyle's Kudos

The winners congratulate one another while Dr. Tania Israel applauds. Credit: Patricia MarroquinBest Algorithm: David Copp (Artificial Pancreas)

Best Attention Getter: Selvi Ersoy (Is your doctor killing you?)

Best Kim Kardashian Reference: Sarah Abdul-Wajid ("You can watch it live, just like reality TV.")

Best Visuals: Yan Wencheng (Construction Destruction)

Kafka Award: Erik Spickard ("Have you ever lain in bed worrying that your lung turned into a kidney?")

Man on A Mission: Lakshmanan Nataraj ("We want to send a message to the evil hackers!")

Mr. Big Data: Abel Gustafson ("Just like undergraduates who were in need of an answer, we turned to Wikipedia.")

The seats were marked with the finalists' names. Credit: Patricia MarroquinPen is Mightier than the Slide Award: Jessica Perkins (Bic pen)

Rico Suave Award: Daniel Hieber (Smoothest gesturing, eyebrow movement, and eye contact with audience)

Sports Injury Savior: Matthew Gebbie (Mussel Proteins)

Final Round Judges

  • Jan Campbell, Senior Vice President for Philanthropic Services, Santa Barbara Foundation; Member UCSB Board of Trustees
  • Brent Constantz, Found and CEO, Blue Planet; Consulting Associate Professor, Geological Sciences, Stanford University
  • Shirley Lim, Professor Emerita, English, UCSB
  • Michael Witherell, Vice Chancellor for Research; Professor of Physics, UCSB

The Chitimacha language and Wikipedia were the topics of discussion by Daniel Hieber, left, and Abel Gustafson. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Mussel proteins were the topic for Matthew Gebbie; and Chinese architecture was spotlighted in Yan Wencheng's talk. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Erik Spickard and Jessica Perkins presented their talks at the Grad Slam Finals. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

David Copp spoke about an artificial pancreas; and Sarah Abdul-Wajid discussed sea squirts. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Selvi Ersoy discussed antibiotics and Lakshmanan Nataraj spoke about malicious software. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Communications Peer Melissa Rapp and Professional Development Peer Shawn Warner-Garcia also contributed to this article.

Wednesday
Apr152015

Grad Slam 2015 Semifinal Round 3: Glues, Guts, and Games

Competitors in Semifinal Round 3 enjoy a laugh as they take questions from the audience. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

The 2015 Grad Slam Semifinal Round 3 was held on Wednesday afternoon in the Engineering Science Building. Eight competitors came, only four moved on to the finals. Be sure to read to the very end for an exciting twist in this Semifinal round!

Presenting in Semifinal Round 3 were, clockwise from left, Mary Toothman, Ashley Sanford, and Jamie Booth. Credit: Patricia MarroquinHere are the noble contenders and their provocative topics.

  • Jamie Booth, Mechanical Engineering: “Gecko-Inspired Adhesive Materials.” Jamie's research investigates the adhesive properties of the toes of geckos in order replicate the structure that generates intimate contact with almost any surface. Jamie is working to take the insights gained from micro-scale replications of these adhesive properties and address macro-scale problems of implementation.
  • Selvi Ersoy, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Killing Me Softly with Antibiotics.” Selvi's presentation showcased the problems with current protocols in antibiotic efficacy testing. She compared lab test environments (in which antibiotics are tested in a lab broth akin to a Caesar's Palace buffet) to actual physiological environments (in which antibiotics face immunity systems that rival the tenacity of Mr. T) in order to show that scientists have been determining antibiotic dosing all wrong.
  • Graduate Division Associate Dean Karen Myers goes over procedures with the Semifinal Round 3 judges, who include Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, foreground. Credit: Patricia MarroquinMatthew Gebbie, Materials: “Simplifying Nature's Invention: Engineering Mussel Proteins into Biomedical Glues." Matthew's research takes inspiration from the way that mussels adhere to surfaces in aqueous environments as the basis for developing simplified versions of these adhesives in order to produce more positive and less traumatic outcomes in orthopedic surgery.
  • Daniel Hieber, Linguistics: “Renaissance on the Bayou: Reviving the Chitimacha Language.” Daniel is working with language documentation material recorded over 70 years ago in order to revive the Chitimacha language in Louisiana.
  • Celeste Pilegard, Psychological and Brain Sciences: “What Can We Learn From Video Games?” Celeste's research is investigating how to transform highly motivated types of learning in video game environments into long-lasting and meaningful learning using reflective techniques.
  • Associate Dean Karen Myers congratulates Selvi Ersoy. Credit: Patricia MarroquinAshley Sanford, Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology: “The Science of Meaning-Making.” Ashley's talk presented the other side of the post-traumatic stress coin: post-traumatic growth. She is researching how people make sense of traumatic experiences and are ultimately able to grow and learn from those experiences.
  • Erik Spickard, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Gonads to Guts: Reprogramming an Organ in the Nematode C. elegans.” Erik is trying to figure out why a little worm's gonad turned into a second gut when a particular gene was turned on in the worm. He believes that this process of changing one organ into another (or "transorganogenesis") could revolutionize the way that doctors treat failing or dysfunctional organs in humans.
  • Mary Toothman, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology: “In the Water or in the Genes? What Makes an Infectious Disease Deadly (or Not)?" Mary's research investigates the influence of both genetics and physical environments in determining the fatality of a particular type of fungus in frogs.

After deliberating, the judges selected four presenters to compete in the Grad Slam Final Round this Friday, April 17, at 3 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion. Not only that, each of the advancing presenters gets a $200 cash prize!

And the Semifinal Round 3 winners are ...

Selvi Ersoy

Matthew Gebbie

Erik Spickard

Celeste Pilegard*

Well done to all!

Shawn's Superlatives:

Erik Spickard explains "transorganogenesis." Credit: Patricia MarroquinBest Accent: Jamie Booth

Best Grey's Anatomy Moment: Matthew Gebbie (showing an orthoscopic image from his own shoulder surgery)

Best Use of a Foreign Language: Daniel Hieber (Chitimacha)

Best Marrying of Nature and Nurture: Mary Toothman

Most Optimistic: Celeste Pilegard ("Video games might have a place in the classroom of the future!")

Most Inspirational: Ashley Sanford ("The tree with the deepest roots is the last to go down in a storm.")

Most Imperative: Selvi Ersoy ("What you don't know CAN kill you.")

Daniel Hieber was chosen to advance to the Final round when Celeste Pilegard withdrew due to a previous commitment. Credit: Patricia MarroquinLongest Word: Eric Spickard ("Transorganogenesis")

 

* Plot Twist!

Due to a previous commitment to present her research at a conference this Friday, Celeste Pilegard withdrew from participation in the Grad Slam Final Round. As a result, the competitor with the next-highest score from both of the judges' semifinal rounds (which occurred Monday and today) was selected to replace Celeste in the Finals.

 

And that competitor is ...

Daniel Hieber!

The winners of Semifinal Round 3 are, from left, Matthew Gebbie (Materials); Celeste Pilegard (Psychological and Brain Sciences); Selvi Ersoy (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology); and Erik Spickard (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology). Celeste is unable to advance to the Finals due to a previous commitment, so Daniel Hieber (Linguistics) will join Selvi, Matthew, and Erik at the Finals on Friday. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Tuesday
Apr142015

Grad Slam 2015 Semifinal Round 2: Heroes, Hope, and a Last Stand

Umi Hoshijima answers a question from the audience while other presenters from Semifinal Round 2 listen. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Here's what you missed at the 2015 Grad Slam Semifinal Round 2 on Tuesday afternoon, which took place in the Multipurpose Room of the Student Resource Building.

Sabrina Liu spoke about the power of hope. Credit: Patricia MarroquinSemifinal Round 2 featured nine crowd favorites (aka "The People's Choice") chosen from the eight preliminary rounds. Sadly, only two of these favorites could advance for a chance to be crowned Grad Slam Champion and Supreme Ruler of the UCSB Grad Student Universe.

Here are the worthy contenders and their titillating topics.

  • Ty Brandt, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “Why Study Snow from the Beach?” Ty discussed how if we combine recent advances that use airborne snow observatory data with eco-hydrologic models, we might be able to reduce river-runoff forecast uncertainty, thereby improving the chances of maximizing the use of California's fresh water resources.
  • Aileen Fullchange, Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology: “The HEROES Project.” Aileen's presentation focused on empathy, its importance, and ways to increase it. Specifically, she talked about the development of an empathy-based intervention, known as the HEROES project (Harnessing Empathy Results in Opportunities for Everyday Solutions).
  • Abel Gustafson, Communication: “Predicting Election Outcomes using Wikipedia.” Abel demonstrated how the communication patterns of Internet users using sites like Wikipedia can predict the outcome of United States political elections with greater accuracy than the traditional prediction models that are made from public opinion polls.
  • Umi Hoshijima discussed kelp forests and global ocean change. Credit: Patricia MarroquinUmihiko Hoshijima, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology: “Kelp Forests on Acid: Local Climate Change Mitigation in a Changing Ocean." Umi talked about how global ocean change is a global problem: one that is difficult to mitigate or manage on a local scale. He showed how kelp forests and seagrasses could locally mitigate the effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia and what this meant for biology and coastal management.
  • Richard Huskey, Communication: “Using Brains to Change Minds.” Richard's talk focused on the neuropsychological process of persuasion. He discussed how brain-imaging data can be used to improve persuasive message design for high-risk people.
  • Aileen Fullchange talked about empathy and the HEROES project. Credit: Patricia MarroquinSabrina Liu, Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology: “The Power of Hope: First Year Students' Adjustment to College Amidst Tragedy." Sabrina explored various psychosocial predictors of college adjustment, such as hope and depression, in first-year students' success. She compared these factors' influence in a typical year versus a high-stress year in which there was an event of mass violence on campus.
  • Ian McCullough, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “A Last Stand? Will California's Ponderosa Pine Forests Survive Climate Change?” Ian talked about how droughts, warming temperatures, and shrinking snow pack pose threats to California's iconic mountain forests. To predict what the future holds for one of California's most ecologically and economically important tree species, he used tree-rings to understand a range of climate change scenarios.
  • Lakshmanan Nataraj, Electrical and Computer Engineering: “Photographing Computer Programs to Identify Malicious Software.” Lakshmanan talked about stopping malware. His research looked at computer programs in a completely different way: as digital photographs. His programs looked for patterns in these images, similar to how we would look for patterns in our daily photos, and then trained a system using Artificial Intelligence to identify malicious software programs.
  • Ken Sterling, Education: “Imagine a Reality TV Show with a Boss Handing a Scan-Tron Form to an Employee." Ken's talk focused on the discussion of high-stakes testing, multiple choice test forms, and the "real world" and how it caused anxiety. He contrasted these high anxiety methods to the benefit of students participating in groups with project-based, hands-on learning.

After deliberating, the judges tapped two worthy contenders to advance to the Grad Slam Final Round this Friday, April 17, at 3 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion.

And the Semifinal Round 2 winners are ...

Abel Gustafson

Lakshmanan Nataraj

Fight to the last, my friends!

Kyle's Kudos:

Ian McCullough told the audience that he's not a tree hugger, but he might take one out for a coffee. Credit: Patricia MarroquinBest Accent (Again): Ty Brandt

Best Joke: Ian McCullough ("I'm not a tree hugger. I might shake its hand or take it out for a coffee.")

Best Heckler Handler: Ken Sterling (Who wants a kid who's average? There's one in every crowd.")

Best Pocket Square: Umihiko Hoshijima

Best Salesperson: Lakshmanan Nataraj ("The future of cyber security is right here!)

Best Use of Wikipedia: Abel Gustafson

Most Hopeful: Sabrina Liu

Most Interactive: Aileen Fullchange

Most Polite: Richard Huskey

The winners of Semifinal Round 2 (the People's Choice winners), who will advance to the Finals, are, from left, Lakshmanan Nataraj (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Abel Gustafson (Communication). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Monday
Apr132015

Grad Slam 2015 Semifinal Round 1 Recap: Sea Squirts, an Artificial Pancreas, Chinese Architecture, and a Ballpoint Pen

Semifinal Round 1 presenters answered questions from the audience while the judges deliberated. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Never a dull moment at the 2015 Grad Slam! A full audience gathered this morning at the Student Resource Building, enjoying free fruit, croissants, and coffee cake. We were treated to seven riveting presentations from UCSB's graduate student researchers. The tension was high, as only four of the seven contenders will proceed to the final round. Here is your recap:
  • Sarah Abdul-Wajid, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Using Sea Squirts to Find New Genetic Factors Controlling Birth Defects.” Sarah's research on sea squirts will help prevent a birth defect that affects one in 1,000 human babies. Her detailed slides provided audience members with images of what she sees under her microscope. Fascinating!
  • David Copp, Mechanical Engineering: “Closing the Loop: Engineering an Artificial Pancreas." David's research will help regulate blood glucose to aid diabetes patients. His mathematical algorithms can run continuous glucose sensors more effectively, and one day may help run an artificial pancreas.
  • Brian Hoskins, Materials: “Synaptic Engineering." Brian has worked on building synapses out of titanium dioxide. He aims to emulate biological synapses in machines, so that computers can work as efficiently as the human brain. Impressive.
  • Semifinal Round 1 presenters included, from left, Laura Reynolds, Brian Hoskins, and Joshua Kuntzman. Credit: Patricia MarroquinJoshua Kuntzman, Education: “Do You See Why I Love This Subject?: Educational Dialog and the Importance of Real Human Teachers.” Josh has followed teachers in the classroom, tracing educational dialog and other factors. He developed a theory called "Analagous Personalization" to analyze the effectiveness of different teaching methods. During the Q&A, he explained that neither teachers nor students are machines – and there are many downsides to overtesting.
  • Rickie Smith, Graduate Division Director of Academic Services, welcomed guests at the sign-in table. Credit: Patricia MarroquinJessica Perkins, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “Life Cycle Assessment and Decision Making – Finding a Solution, Not Just Changing the Problem.” In a courageous move, Jessica turned off the PowerPoint slide projector and asked us to focus on the ballpoint pen in her hand. Very creative. She encouraged us to think of the depleted resources, carbon emissions, and waste created in the making of a simple pen. Her life-cycle assessment research can help identify the unintended consequences of our materials and manufacturing decisions.
  • Laura Reynolds, Earth Science: “Memories in Mud: How Marshes Tell Us about Past, Present, and Future Sea-Level Change.” Laura's research in salt marshes and with mud critters will help us track sea-level change and the impact of global warming. Her slides showed a mix of her fieldwork and detailed charting research.
  • Wencheng Yan, History of Art and Architecture: “Writing Modernity: Constructing a History of Chinese Architecture, 1920-1949.” Wencheng explained that although demolition comprises the majority of Chinese urban architecture, there is no vernacular to describe the processes. She seeks to help shape the vernacular of modern Chinese architecture for architects, art historians, and others.

After careful consideration, the judges selected four students to advance to the Grad Slam Final Round this Friday, April 17, at 3 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion.

And the Semifinal Round 1 winners are ...

Sarah Abdul-Wajid

David Copp

Jessica Perkins

Wencheng Yan

Congratulations to all!

Winners of Grad Slam Semifinal Round 1, who will go on to compete in the Finals, are, from left, Jessica Perkins (Bren); David Copp (Mechanical Engineering); Wencheng Yan (History of Art & Architecture); and Sarah Abdul-Wajid (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Thursday
Apr092015

Grad Slam Round 8 Recap: Beach Snow, Pizza, and Octopus Skin

Wencheng Yan answers a question from the audience while other participants in Round 8 of the Grad Slam look on. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Here’s what you missed at Round 8 (aka "What's For Dinner Round") of UCSB's 2015 Grad Slam on Thursday afternoon in the Santa Cruz Residence Hall. Seven presenters squared off to battle for the right to represent in the next round, talking on topics such as Beach Snow, Pizza, and Octopus Skin. When it was all said and done, only three graduate students triumphed to gain a gift card and a date with Semifinal glory.

Round 8 presenters included, clockwise from top left, S.C. Kaplan; Adam Klein; Desmond Ramirez; and Sungmin Moon. Credit: Patricia MarroquinThe presenters and their topics:

  • William Brandt, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “Why Study Snow from the Beach?”
  • Selvi Ersoy, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Killing Me Softly with Antibiotics” 
  • S.C. Kaplan, French and Italian: “'Apprendre et Endoctriner’: Women Teaching Women in 15th-Century France
  • Adam Klein, Psychological and Brain Sciences: “Illuminating the Circuitry of Addiction”
  • Sungmin Moon, Education: “Pizza, Pisa, PISA”
  • Desmond Ramirez, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology: “'Seeing’ Octopus Skin in the Light of Evolution”
  • Wencheng Yan, History of Art and Architecture: “Writing Modernity: Constructing a History of Chinese Architecture, 1920-1949”

Round 8 was held in a very colorful and artistic space in Santa Cruz Residence Hall. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

And the Round 8 winners are ...

Judges' Selections: Selvi Ersoy and Wencheng Yan.

People's Choice: William Brandt.

Kyle’s Coolest:

  • Coolest Accent: William Brandt (Australian?)
  • Coolest Clip Art: Selvi Ersoy (Bacteria, Mr. Lazy, dead mouse)
  • Coolest Hair: S.C. Kaplan (Red)
  • Coolest Images: Wencheng Yan (Chinese Architecture)

Wencheng, Selvi, and William will all move on to the Semifinals. Way to represent, my friends!

Winners of Grad Slam Round 8 are, from left, Wencheng Yan (History of Art and Architecture); Selvi Ersoy (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology); and William Brandt (Bren School of Environmental Science and Management). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Thursday
Apr092015

Grad Slam Round 7 Recap: Transgender Sensations, Latino Parents, and Invasive Species

Emily Wilson answers a question from the audience while other participants in Round 7 of the Grad Slam look on. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Here’s what you missed at Round 7 (aka "The Rumble Round") of UCSB's 2015 Grad Slam on Thursday morning in 1605 Elings. Eight presenters came forth ready to rumble and discoursed on subjects as varied as Transgender Sensations, Latino Parents, and Invasive Species. After the applause died down, only three graduate students had survived to grasp a gift card and make an appointment for the Semifinals.

Round 7 presenters included, clockwise from top: Zuleyma Rogel, Emily Wilson, Kamala Qalandar, Oree Holban, and Anish Bhattacharjya. Credit: Patricia MarroquinThe presenters and their topics:

  • Anish Bhattacharjya, Chemistry and Biochemistry: “Generating and Using Aryl Grignard Reagents in Water, ONLY Water”
  • Oree Holban, Art: “The Big MM: Transgender Sensations and the Poetry of Limbo”
  • Brian Hoskins, Materials: “Synaptic Engineering”
  • Ian McCullough, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “A Last Stand? Will California's Ponderosa Pine Forests Survive Climate Change?”
  • Kamala Qalandar, Mechanical Engineering: “Small But Mighty: Energy Efficiency in Micromechanical Systems”  
  • Zuleyma Rogel, Education: “Latino Parents' Negotiation and Development of Letters to Their School Board on a Funding Priority”
  • Ashley Sanford, Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology: “The Science of Meaning-Making”
  • Emily Wilson, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology: “Detecting Invasive Species Using Environmental DNA”

And the Round 7 winners are … 

Judges' Selections: Brian Hoskins and Ashley Sanford.

People's Choice: Ian McCullough.

Kyle's Superlatives:

Most Likely to Become a ...

  • Life Coach: Ashley Sanford ("The tree with the strongest roots is the last to go down in a storm")
  • Motivational Speaker: Zuleyma Rogel
  • Pun Master: Ian McCullough ("Go out on a limb")
  • Robot Lord: Kamala Qalandar ("If robots are going to rule the world someday, let's at least make them energy-efficient")

Ashley, Brian, and Ian will all move on to the Semifinals. Fight on, my friends!

The winners of Round 7 are, from left, Ian McCullough (Bren School of Environmental Science and Management), Ashley Sanford (Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology), and Brian Hoskins (Materials). Credit: Patricia Marroquin