Preview of Grad Slam prelim rounds 3 and 4: April 11

by Nicole Poletto, Professional Development Peer
Monday, April 10, 2017 9:00 AM

The 5th Annual Grad Slam continues with prelim rounds 3 and 4. Remember to get out the vote to help your favorite presenters 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 3

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

Jacob Berenbeim | ​Chemistry
Please No Flash Photography
We study the interaction of molecules with light. History's great painters studied the same interaction of light and color with pigments to tell a story in a painting. However, as skilled as they were, the Great's could not predict the fading of their Works in time. We study why these paintings fade and pose the assertion that onr of the greatest painters of all time was  the wheels of evolution and it's choice of the pigments necessary in the painting of life, our dna.

Leah Foltz | Biomolecular Science & Engineering
Personalized Medicine: How to Cure Blindness with Your Own Cells 
While the idea of adapting treatment for individual patients has been around for centuries, recent strides in stem cell research have made personalized medicine a reality. Since 2006, scientists have mastered methods for reprograming adult cells into stem cells. In my research, I use stem cells created from the skin of a patient with an inherited blinding disease. With gene-editing technology, we can correct the disease-causing mutation to better understand what goes wrong and to potentially use these cells as a personalized treatment.  

Aranya Goswami | Electrical & Computer Engineering
Tunnel Transistors: Going through Walls to Save Energy
Quantum Tunneling is a strange phenomenon observed for particles like electrons which allow them to go through apparently impenetrable energy barriers, something considered impossible in classical physics. I'm working on harnessing this exotic property to build highly efficient transistors, the tiny switches which form the building blocks of every computer. In future, this can result in cellphones and laptops which last 10 times longer on the same battery and which give off much less heat.

Laura Hooton | History
A Border Triangle: Los Angeles, Ensenada, and Oklahoma
Last year I spoke about the Little Liberia colony, and the importance of the U.S.-Mexico border in the story, and the roles of Los Angeles and Ensenada, as well as the African American identity, to this story.  But my dissertation has now taken on an additional group of people - Oklahoma.  This presentation will briefly discuss how adding wealthy African Americans from Oklahoma can actually deepen an already interesting story about an African American agricultural colony in Baja California in the early 1900s. 

​Alexandra Miller | Physics
Measuring the Topology of Spacetime in Quantum Gravity
One of the biggest open questions in physics today is: what is the correct theory of quantum gravity?  In this talk, I will discuss my work in analyzing one aspect of this problem, which is the question of how to determine the topology (roughly, the number of holes) of a given quantum spacetime.

Laura Reynolds | Earth Science
Pollution and Pollen: Evidence of Human Influence in California Sediments
Humans have drastically shaped the California coastline over thousands of years. Pollution markers and exotic pollen preserved in sediments can help differentiate post-industrial sediments from pre-industrial sediments-- this helps us tease out which environmental changes are due to human influence from those related to natural variability. Some scientists have recently argued that globally recognized pollution horizons mark the beginning of a new geological epoch: the anthropocene. In grad slams past I have talked about natural hazards-- this time I will be focusing on human impact on coastal environments.

Leila Zonouzi | Global Studies 
The Imagined Reality of Displaced Iranians
For this presentation, I will be arguing that the Iranian Diasporic community lives in their own social imaginary--the imaginary Iran within the United States. I will make my case by referencing the worlds of authors, students, and the migrants after the 1979 Revolution. This imaginary is filled to the brim with nostalgia and hope, and clouded by a false reality of the home country.

Round 4

Tuesday, April 11 | 3 to 4 p.m.
SRB Multipurpose Room

Jessica Couture | Environmental Science & Management
Comparing Salmon Feeds Using Life Cycle Assessments
Feeds make up about 80% of the climate impact of aquaculture production and are the greatest cost for companies economically and many of the most popular seafood species are not just fed, but carnivorous. As a result, a lot of work has gone into finding more economic and environmentally friendly ways to feed these prized fish. Salmon mariculture represents the largest carnivorous fish production globally and requires a nutrient rich, high protein feed. A significant portion of these feeds are supplied by wild caught fish meal and fish oil but wild fish stocks are declining and prices are rising. Can we replace these expensive ingredients with ones that have a smaller environmental impact?

Katharine Dickson | Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
Can Cephalopods See Color, and How?
Two seemingly contradictory lines of evidence suggest that cephalopods are able to match the color of their background relatively well when employing their camouflage, but that they only have one opsin with which to detect light (suggesting they can only see one color).  A recent hypothesis in PNAS (Stubbs and Stubbs, 2016) suggests that they may employ chromatic aberration as a way to detect color instead, in lieu of most color-seeing animals' multiple opsins.  I aim to test this hypothesis and investigate how cephalopods take in information from their environment to produce an excellent spectral match to their background.

Kathy Espino-Perez | Psychological and Brain Sciences
One of Us?: Biracial Targets, Perceptions of Prototypicality, and Resource Threat
The United States is becoming increasingly diverse. In fact, the multiracial population grew by over 32% from the year 2000 to 2010. Given that racial / ethnic demographics are changing, multiracial individuals are changing the ways we think about race. In this talk, I will discuss the different racial categorization strategies Whites and Latinos employ when evaluating a biracial Latino-White diversity scholarship applicant. 

Jesilyn Faust | Global Studies
Islamic Feminism and the Way Forward: Learning from the Women's Movements in Morocco
Last year I presented Amina al Filali and how article 475 was repealed in Morocco.  This year, my presentation focuses on the engagement and cooperation between international organizations and women's rights movements.  A large problem in the past was a failure of international organizations to engage with Islamic feminists which caused a setback on some women's rights issues.   By reframing women's and human rights in a global perspective and supporting diverse organizations, we can make better and more long lasting progress on these issues. 

James Giammona | Physics
Building Early Embryos in the Computer
The arrangement of cells in early embryos varies between species. Even at only 4 cells, urchins are in a square while mice are in a pyramid. I simulate a model of the early embryo to understand how life generates these different arrangements by varying physical properties of the cells like adhesion. I'll end by explaining how this simulator can also help us better understand cancer metastasis.

Kathryn Harrison | Communication
The (Un)Importance of a Gut Feeling: Information Seeking Strategies in Online Dating
This study investigated the information seeking strategies (ISS) that online daters use to determine the viability of a potential match. Our findings advance the first two phases of Ramirez et al.’s (2002) conceptual model of social information seeking in CMC and new media. The study utilized a nationally representative sample of 316 participants who indicated that they had previous experience with online dating. Results indicated that personal qualities are generally associated with increased use of ISS and reliance on gut reaction. Perceptions of honesty and perceived homophily between the profile creator and the profile viewer were associated with use of ISS, but not associated with people’s reliance on their gut reaction. Additionally, the sex of the profile viewer and the perceived physical attraction of the person in the profile interact with the other predictor variables outlined herein to produce effects on ISS and on people’s use of their gut feelings.

Karly Marie Miller | ​Marine Science
Why Tourism Matters for Fisheries Management
Small-scale fisheries (SSF) provide livelihoods to over 200 million people, generate 50% of seafood for human consumption, and are major source of protein and micronutrients. They are a ‘safely net’ even for those who do not use fishing as a primary food source or livelihood. Aside from their social and economic importance, SSF can also have a significant impact on the environment, accounting for 25-33% of annual global fisheries catch and as the dominant form of marine resource-use in many coastal regions. SSF are disproportionately concentrated in developing countries where their importance to coastal communities is amplified by poverty, and where high resource dependence and limited environmental management make ecosystems vulnerable to over harvesting. Development, especially tourism, is often looked to as a sustainable way to alleviate pressure on the resource and reduce poverty, yet the actual social and environmental outcomes of development can vary greatly, highlighting the need to better understand both coastal social-ecological interactions and how they are affected by development transitions. In this work I use data and observations from a year in Colombian coastal communities to examine this link between tourism development and SSF, offering ideas for future development planning and resource management.  

Melissa Rapp | ​Education
Getting Teachers to the Highest Grade: Gendered Responses to Evaluations
​Teacher expertise is the most important factor in school quality and student success. Are evaluations providing the support teachers need to improve methods?