Grad Slam 2013 Final Round recap

by Patricia Marroquin, Communications Director
Monday, April 22, 2013 11:59 PM

The nine Grad Slam finalists: From left, Bob Lansdorp, Mohammad Mirzadeh, Peter Mage, Torrey Trust, Jasmin Llamas, Misty Riddle, Cyrus Dreyer, Britney Pennington, and Briana Simmons. Credit: Patricia MarroquinA lively Performance Showcase with opera and play readings, a dazzling 3D tour of the AlloSphere, and a Poster Showcase featuring more than a dozen exhibits were among the events that preceded UC Santa Barbara's Grad Slam Finals and Graduate Student Reception on Friday afternoon.

In welcoming the audience to the Grad Slam Finals, part of Graduate Student Showcase, Dr. Carol Genetti, Dean of the Graduate Division, thanked the sponsors, the judges for each of the rounds, and all those who worked to plan Graduate Student Showcase events, especially Retention Services Director Whitney Winn, who she called “the organizational genius behind the Showcase.”

“Most of all,” Dr. Genetti said, “I want to thank the graduate students themselves, all of the participants who have taken the time out of their very busy lives to enrich us with their work, their thoughts, and their grand ideas.”

She praised the diversity of the more than 80 talks, on topics including mathematical symmetry,  quantum computing, U.S. diplomacy with Cuba, kelp beds, even effective hand-washing.

“This Showcase has given us the opportunity to hear from passionate scholars and to connect with the big ideas at the creative cutting edge,” Dr. Genetti said.  “Graduate students both reflect and enable their faculty, and the synergy between these populations is the central force, the fuel, that drives research productivity on this campus.”

The following are the nine Grad Slam finalists, their disciplines, and the titles of their talks.

Bob Lansdorp, Materials, “How Do Nano-Motors Unzip Your Genes?”

Jasmin Llamas, Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, “The Importance of Familia for Latina/o College Students: Examining Familial Support on Intragroup Marginalization”

Torrey Trust, Education, “K-12 Tech Tools Database: Understanding How Open Educational Resources Shape Student Learning”

Misty Riddle, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, “Reprogramming Cell Fate and Remodeling Organs in a Tiny Worm”

Mohammad Mirzadeh, Mechanical Engineering, “Direct Numerical Simulation of Supercapacitors' Charging Dynamics”

Britney Pennington, Biomolecular Science and Engineering, “Directly Reprogramming Human Cells to Treat Ocular Diseases”

Cyrus Dreyer, Materials, “Lighting the World From the Head of a Pin: Engineering Across Length Scales”

Peter Mage, Materials, “Taking the Guesswork Out of Medicine: Sensors, Steamships, and Loops”

Briana Simmons, History of Art & Architecture, “The Plantation Economy: Material Culture, Architecture, and Global Exchange in Nineteenth-Century Brazil”

Grad Slam Grand Prize Winner Peter Mage with finalists Misty Riddle and Britney Pennington. Credit: Patricia MarroquinAfter spirited presentations, the judges left the auditorium to deliberate while the audience asked questions of the finalists. When the judges returned, the top three finishers were announced:

The Grand Prize winner of a $2,500 research fund is Peter Mage. Misty and Britney each received $1,000 research funds.

Following the Grad Slam, students and their guests dined on Middle Eastern fare on the Hatlen Theater patio while enjoying the Indian and Middle Eastern music of Professor Scott Marcus’ grad students. Before the Finals, a Graduate Playwrights’ Showcase featured new work of grad students Gregory Dodds ("The Happiest Place on Earth"), Donald Molosi ("Dear Zibanani"), and Brian Granger ("Cold Hill Road").