Preview of Grad Slam prelim rounds 1 and 2: Monday, April 10

by Nicole Poletto, Professional Development Peer
Sunday, April 09, 2017 9:00 AM

The 5th Annual Grad Slam kicks off Monday, April 10! Come out to the first two preliminary rounds, where your People's Choice vote can help your favorites advance to the semifinal rounds. Check out a preview of the presentations below, and be sure to follow us on Facebook for live updates on the winners of each round. 

Round 1

Monday, April 10 | 11 a.m. to noon
Engineering Science Building 1001

Andrew Cawley | Environmental Science & Management 
Climate Change, Costs, and Caribou
Certain human activities that improve our quality of life - urban growth, interconnected road networks, and natural resource development – often cause harm to the natural habitats and the animals within them.  This is playing out as we speak with caribou herds across Canada: the activities that strengthen our communities are causing caribou populations to crash, and have resulted in it being classified as a federal "Threatened Species”.  My research aims to balance human and caribou needs within the Mackenzie River Basin, an area that covers 1/5th of Canada.  I am using spatial economic analysis and climate projection modeling to identify where the most valuable spaces for humans and caribou will be under a warming climate, and create a reserve system which maximizes caribou protection while minimizing economic losses.

Owen Colegrove | Physics
Illuminating Dark Forces
This material will focus more broadly on the search for physics beyond the standard model.  First, I will illustrate the scope and difficulty of searches for new physics.  Second, I will tie in my own various research projects.

Carina Edelman | Earth Science
Unlocking Earth's Time Capsules
The rare earth elements occur in small quantities in rocks on Earth. They are used in modern green technologies such as solar panels and electric cars. My research uses a well-studied geologic process called radioactive decay to characterize these rare earth deposits, and study the tectonic processes occurring in present-day Colorado 1.7 billion years ago.

Ben Gross | Mathematics 
Why Do the Shapes of Cells Matter?
While it is often convenient to use so-called "Spherical-Cows" to approximate the geometry of complex shapes, this can remove very important data from a calculation. The shapes of Cell Membranes, Vesicles, and Micelles play a key role in how they function within living organisms. In particular, we examine how a membrane's curvature affects the movement of the  lipids within it . 

Kelly Ibsen | Chemical Engineering
No More Needles: The Promise of Non-Invasive Drug Delivery via Ionic Liquids
Needle phobia creates a significant compliance issue for patients who require daily injections to live, such as diabetics. This talk will introduce a class of ionic liquids that can penetrate skin with minimal irritation, and is capable of enabling the transport of large molecules such as insulin through the skin and into the bloodstream.

Jim Mondo | Mollecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
Pulling Together: Cells Talking Through Tension
Cell migration is a fascinating and complex biological process that is critical for embryonic development, wound healing and immune system function.  Improper regulation of cell migration can lead to diseases - most notably cancer metastasis.   We study how collectives of cells coordinate with one another to migrate in a physiological context.  Our goal is to understand how physical interactions between cells regulate the biochemical pathways required for migration.

Elisabeth Rareshide | Anthropology
Outside of the Reach of the Mission Bell: Chinigchinich Ritual Practice among the Tongva during the Mission Period in Alta California (AD 1769-1834)
The Mission Period in Alta California (AD 1769-1834) radically changed the lives of indigenous people, including the Tongva, as Franciscan missionaries tried to convert them to Christianity. However, archaeological evidence of ritual practice of the Chinigchinich religion at sites such as Lemon Tank on San Clemente Island suggests continuity in Tongva ritual practice into the Mission Period. Furthermore, patterns of consumption of native and foreign material culture may reveal new layers of meaning in persistent ritual practices. If Tongva people were actively avoiding incorporating colonial material culture (such as glass beads) in their ritual practices, the Chinigchinich religion could have been part of a nativistic revitalization movement in which people tried to expunge colonial influence. 

David Stamps | Communication
Boys Won't Be Boys: Exploring Masculinity and its Influence on Social Support 
Finding a Place for Conservation in the Galápagos Marine Reserve
This research study examines masculinity, intimacy, and how those correlate with communication practices among men. By providing focus on ideologies surrounding masculinity we expand the discourse on how males seek social support within their social network and the role of masculinity in that interaction.  

Round 2

Monday, April 10 | 3 to 4 p.m.
SRB Multipurpose Room

Shashank Aswathanarayana | Media Arts and Technology
Effect of a Known Environment on the Estimation of Sound Source Distance
The estimation of sound source distance has been a topic of research interest for a number of decades now. Humans are known to be good at localizing sound in the azimuth and elevation, but are poor at estimating the sound source distance. This project looks at examining the effect of a known environment on the estimation of sound source distance.

Becca Best | Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
Unraveling an Unexpected Effect of Tau at Microtubule Ends
Dysregulation and disfunction of the microtubule-associated protein tau is a hallmark of many neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. However, while functional tau is a crucial component of neuronal health, many mysteries remain regarding tau's mechanistic role in cells.  My research focuses on characterizing tau's normal physiological functions in order to better understand how disruption of these functions leads to neurodegeneration. I will discuss recent findings that illustrate a surprising structural effect of tau on microtubule ends as well as the implications of these findings in the context of neurodegeneration.

May ElSherif | Computer Science
The Urban Characteristics of Street Harassment: A First Look
Street harassment is a global problem. In this talk, we seek to gain insights into the characteristics of neighborhoods in which street harassment has occurred. We analyze over 7, 800 worldwide street harassment incidents, gathered by the Hollaback project, to study the association of street harassment with walkability scores.

Erika I-Tremblay | Education
Roles of Writing Centers - A Lesson from the Japanese Example
The US idea of writing centers are often associated with remedial work. This presentation reveals how a study of university writing centers in the Japanese context can help expand the definition(s) of writing centers.

Jeff Inglis | Dynamical Neuroscience 
Do My Actions Matter?: The Role of Contingency in Learning
The Reward Prediction Error Hypothesis (RPEH) is one of the most elegant and empirically supported theories in computational neuroscience. The RPEH describes how your brain computes the difference between the reward you obtained and the reward you expected. Although it is now well established that this computation is encoded by neurons that release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is a major contributor to learning, the theory appears to be incomplete. This presentation advances an augmented theory of reward-mediated learning that emphasizes the importance of your behavior.

Eric Jorgensen | Theater Studies
Reacquired: I, Thou and the American AIDS Play
The corpus of dramatic material written about and in response to HIV/AIDS is a chronicle of both the past and the present of the pandemic.  But an encounter with this corpus on the stage by virtue of the living theater, transforms the relationship with the disease from that of an object (the unchangeable) to that of an experience (the unbound).

Rhys Kennard | ​Materials
Building Blocks for New Electronics
I take existing semiconductors (the “building blocks”) and find novel ways to stack them on top of each other, or arrange them as a mosaic. This could create solar cells and LEDs that are just as efficient as the ones we have today, but much cheaper.

David Miller | ​Geography
Plants, Cities, and Satellites: High Resolution Mapping of Carbon Uptake by Urban Vegetation
With modern satellite remote sensing methods, it has become possible to map carbon uptake (i.e. photosynthesis) across the earth's surface at a global scale, which is highly important for understanding where carbon goes in our environment. However, a very important land area tends to be left out: cities, which are expanding globally and where many of us live. I will show how I use high resolution satellite imagery and other data sources to estimate carbon uptake across a large metropolitan region, and demonstrate the importance of my research in light of anthropogenic climate change and urban development.n 2014, the Salvadoran population surpassed Cubans to become the third largest Latina/o population in the U.S. The children of Salvadoran immigrants have come of age in the United States following their parents' migration out of war-torn El Salvador in the 1980s. Today, Salvadorans in Southern California define their ethnic experiences in contrast to those of the Mexican-descent Latina/o majority and they locate their affinity to Salvadoran culture through the privileges that their U.S. citizenship affords them.