The Final Round of Grad Slam is almost here!

by Nicole Poletto, Professional Development Peer
Thursday, April 20, 2017 9:15 AM


After two weeks of competition and 71 amazing competitors, only 9 graduate students remain ​to compete in the final round of the 2017 Grad Slam this Friday. With thousands of dollars of prize money up for grabs, this​ is sure to be an event that you won't want to miss. But don't worry, if you can't make it in person to support your friends and fellow grads, you can tune into the live-stream through UC Santa Barbara's Facebook page to catch all the excitement!

Final Round

Friday, April 21 | 3 to 4 p.m.
Corwin Pavilion

Jim Mondo | Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
Many in Motion: Modeling Metastasis in the Fly
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.

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.

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. 

Amanda Kaczmarek | Psychological and Brain Sciences
Tylenol and Advil Effects on Mental Rotation
Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Advil (ibuprofen) are two widely-used, over-the-counter medications used to treat minor pains or reduce fever. Recent research suggests that Tylenol may have broader psychological effects, such as how we visualize people who are in our “ingroup” or “outgroup.” We wanted to determine if this difference might be due to Tylenol’s effect on social information processing, or on visual ability. We conducted a double-blind study comparing Tylenol, Advil, and placebo and found that taking Tylenol seems to hamper the ability to perform a spatial reasoning task.

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.

Daniel Phillips | Geography
Defining the Community of Interest as a Cognitive Region
When deciding where to draw the boundaries for electoral districts, officials often strive to ensure that communities of interest are not split up but kept wholly within those boundaries. But what constitutes a community of interest is vague, with legal and academic sources describing either a thematic region with shared demographic and land-use traits, or a cognitive region that is meaningful to people and commonly agreed upon. This presentation shows how I identified communities of interest within Santa Barbara as cognitive regions--by surveying residents about the size and locational extent of their community and finding areas of agreement. I also discuss how I assessed the degree to which these regions overlap with the new city council districts.

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).

Dominique Houston | Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
DID I PAUSE? DIAPAUSE: A Story of Suspended Animation
Over the last century, the average person's lifespan has increased by 30 years in the United States. Unfortunately, these additional years have come at a cost; our so called "golden years" are now plagued with a multitude of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, and cancer. So how can we improve the quality of these golden years? My research seeks to address this by uncovering the molecular mechanisms underlying the prevention of age related degeneration in the fruit fly. 

Max Nowak  | Chemical Engineering
Breaching the Blood-Brain Barrier
The Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) is notorious for being perhaps the most difficult biological barrier to cross. Despite extensive research on the BBB itself, very little is known about what factors influence how much or how fast something can get to the other side. This talk will discuss our work towards using a microfluidic BBB model to understand how nanoparticle properties affect their ability to cross the BBB.