Preview of Grad Slam semifinal round 1: Monday, April 16

by Shawn Warner, Director of Professional Development
Sunday, April 15, 2018 8:00 AM

The Grad Slam semifinals ​kick off with round 1 on Monday, April 16. (View the full semifinal schedule here.) Join us to cheer on your fellow graduate students as they vie for a spot in the final round. Here's a preview of what's to come... be sure to follow us on Facebook for live updates on the winners of each round.

ROUND 1
Mon Apr 16 | 11a-12p
SRB Multipurpose Room

Ali Rahman | ​​Comparative Literature
Digital Rhetoric and Gatekeepers of Knowledge: Islamic Authority in America
Amongst Sunni Muslims, there has long been a crisis of authority given its lack of hierarchal structure.  More recently, modernity has threatened the traditional Islamic authority even more because of the supposedly democratizing technology that diminishes the role of the gatekeeper.  Scholars have since adapted to the new paradigm in which they must utilize their digital savvy to cater to a contemporary audience.  But this technological shift has empowered potentially anyone to create and maintain their own authority regardless of education, credibility, and merit.  This talk will explore the reality facing not just Muslims, but everyone concerned with the reliability of knowledge in the information age.

Andrea Figueroa-Caballero | ​Communication
Trial by TV: The Effects of News Coverage Linking Undocumented Immigrants with Criminality
An examination of the effects of crime news coverage featuring undocumented immigrants, specifically looking at punitive consequences.

Annie Lamontagne | ​Earth Science
Seismicity and Severe Weather: Generation of Seismic Waves by a Tornado
Tornadoes are among the most common natural disasters to occur in the United States. Various methods are used in tornado forecasting, but knowing when a tornado has touched down is hard to determine exactly. Seismic data offers an opportunity to study tornadoes in new ways, using the ground motions generated by the tornado when it touches down.

Neil Dolinski | Materials
3D Printing with Color: One Solution, Multiple Materials 
Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, has enabled the production of structures useful throughout industry and cutting edge research. However, standard 3D printing approaches utilize harmful UV light, require slow layer-by-layer processing, and have vastly inferior properties relative to traditionally manufactured parts. Our group has developed a new technique for 3D printing, Solution Mask Liquid Lithography, which uses purely visible light to build parts 100x faster than state-of-the-art printers while completely eliminating layering. By varying the color of the light used in curing, we can produce parts with programmable local mechanical properties, allowing for the unprecedented growth of complex parts in a single step.

Osvaldo Assuncao | Statistics & Applied Probability
Managing Systemic Risk with a Random Network
The risk of one bank in default affecting the entire banking system is of great concern to regulators around the world. We use studies of contagion mechanisms in random networks to analyze how a default contagion would spread through a banking network. We expand the models of banking networks to include investments in assets not included in the network and analyze how drops in asset prices can trigger a default cascade. ​

​Rachel Torres | Environmental Science & Management
The Role of Urban Trees in a Water-Limited Environment
With urban populations currently taking up about half of the global population and continuing to grow and use natural resources, understanding eco-hydrology in urban areas is more important than ever. The biggest effect of urbanization on hydrologic processes is due to impervious surfaces that increase surface runoff, nutrient loading, and urban heat. In places like the pacific northwest and the east coast, urban vegetation is implemented through low impact development as a stormwater management technique to reduce runoff. However, in water-limited areas like Southern California, urban vegetation takes on a different, more holistic role that is less studied. I plan on combining remote sensing data of downtown Santa Barbara with RHESSys, a spatially distributed ecohydrologic model, to explore the role of urban vegetation in surface temperature cooling, water storage, and nutrient cycling. Using a model will be beneficial to investigate how different species of urban trees respond to drought, which trees are more vulnerable, and where urban trees receive the most water from.

Stephenson Brooks Whitestone | Communication
Authenticity in Eternity: Transgender Identity After Death
All too often, as transpeople age and die, they lose agency over their identity and are, sadly, de-transitioned by their unaccepting families and loved ones. The current study is a qualitative study of aging transpeople (40 y.o. +) to determine their thoughts on identity and death, to find out if they are having critical end-of-life conversations with their loved ones, to see if they are, in fact, taking steps now to defend and protect their identity after death.  People often take  steps to provide for the management of their material assets after death, but what asset is more important than our identity?

Veronica Laos | ​Chemistry
Understanding Neurodegenerative Disorders: One Protein at a Time
As we approach our future, expecting growth in developing countries and a rise of an older population, we can anticipate an imminent rise in neurodegenerative disorders worldwide. It is crucial that we develop a fundamental understanding of the pathogenic cascade involved in the proliferation of these types of diseases. My work focuses on characterizing disease related proteins to identify neurotoxic targets, which can then be applied to evaluate therapeutic agents in their efficacy for treating neurodegenerative disorders.