Preview of Grad Slam prelim rounds 1 and 2: Monday, April 8

by Daina Tagavi, Professional Development Peer
Friday, April 05, 2019 8:00 AM

The 7th Annual Grad Slam kicks off Monday, April 8! 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. 

Mon Apr 8 | 11a-12p

Engineering Science Building 1001

George Degen | ​Chemical Engineering
H​ealing Muscles with Mussels
The human body and the ocean have a lot in common: both are wet and salty, making them challenging environments for adhesive glues. Nevertheless, marine mussels produce glues that stick to almost any surface under water. My goal is to learn from marine mussels and engineer a glue that sticks to muscle tissue in the body—a mussel-inspired medical adhesive!

Greg Ekberg | ​Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
Resolving the Mechanisms of Microbial Competition
Bacteria exist in complex communities, in constant competition for energy, food, space, and shelter. While a specific niche largely dictates the genetic tools required for survival, many bacteria also possess offensive weapons to kill neighboring cells and increase their fitness. My research aims to understand the physical mechanisms and restraints of one of these toxin delivery mechanisms: Contact Dependent Inhibition.  

Sean Gilleran | History
"We Have Your Mechanical Brain": An Internet History of Malcolm X Hall
In 1968, UCSB's Black Student Union occupied the North Hall Computer Center as part of a protest against campus racism and the University's ties to the Vietnam War. In 1969, the third node of the ARPANet, predecessor of the Internet, was installed at the same place. For the faculty, UCSB's computers were key to an informated future with no artificial limits on communication. For the Black Student Union, they were an oppressive "electronic brain." My project will examine the roles of these competing views in shaping the emerging debate over power and meaning in the digital world.

Caitlin Martin | Environmental Science & Management 
Increasing ​Customer Use of Plant-Based, Toxin-Free Personal Care Products
On average, women use about 12 personal care products each day, which exposes them to about 168 different chemical ingredients. Customers want to switch to natural alternatives, but struggle to find the perfect product. The problem customers encounter is that there are too many natural products on the market, and therefore they have difficulty deciding which one to purchase. Customers are dissatisfied with both the current availability of natural products and the method of discovery to find a product that works best for them. 

Sam Zahn | Philosophy
​The Ethics of Incest
My research explores which features of the incestuous relationship are morally relevant. This question is crucial to answer if we are to be justified in assigning blame in cases of incest. I will also briefly discuss how and whether incest laws track moral culpability.

Nicole Zamanzadeh | ​Communication
Media Multitasking and Teen Stress: Developmental And Parental Risk Factors

Today's society is increasingly saturated by and reliant upon portable smart devices, which facilitate constant and simultaneous access to multiple media. This study examined adolescents' vulnerability to unhealthy media habits. Parent-adolescent dyads (N=250) participated in a one-week longitudinal intensive study. The findings elucidate the role of developmental factors such as developing self-regulation capacities and parenting practices in teens' media habits and well-being.

Katelyn Zigner | Geography
Extreme Wind Events and Associated Wildfire Spread in Santa Barbara County
Strong, downslope wind events called 'Sundowners' produce dangerous conditions for the inhabitants of coastal Santa Barbara County, CA. During these events, hot and dry air accelerates down the Santa Ynez Mountains, creating significant wildfire risks. This talk will discuss characteristics and variability of Sundowners and their impacts on wildfires.

Mon Apr 8 | 3-4p
SRB Multipurpose Room

​​Shashank Aswathanarayana | ​​​Media Arts & Technology
I Hear Bangalore3D
I Hear Bangalore3D is an attempt to capture and render 3D recordings of various iconic locations of the city of Bangalore. First order ambisonic recordings were done and processed so that they can be played back using a speaker array configuration through real time matrixing or using headphones through binaural renderings of the recordings. This work has both aesthetic and informational use to it as it also aims at comparing the noise levels of different parts of the city at different times of the day.

Michelle Grue | Education
Dress Like Them or Nah? Black Women Professors and "Professional" Dress
Women of color in academia are frequently marginalized and isolated (Collins, 1990; Crenshaw, 1991; Goodburn, LeCourt, & Leverenz; 2012; Muhs, Niemann, Gonzales, & Harris; 2012). They frequently consider their perception throughout their academic career (Butler, 1988; Foucault, 2012; Logan, 2006), including their dress practices (Cooper, Morris, & Boylorn, 2017; Johnson, Levy, Manthey, & Novotny, 2015; Roach-Higgins & Eicher, 1992). However, Black women in the field of writing, rhetoric, and composition (WRC), find this issue further exacerbated, because White women make up the majority of faculty (Ballif, Davis, & Mountford, 2008) and the advice in the field often overlooks Black women (Ballif et al., 2008). I argue that it is necessary to expand the literature on academic dress practices to better serve and represent Black women. This short talk brings to life some of the ways participants wear and think about their clothing, hair, and beauty ideals.

Chung-Ta Han | Chemical Engineering
A Generalized Approach to Studying Protein's Function Through its Structural Movement
My current research is quantifying transmembrane protein function by measuring its conformation change with novel magnetic resonance instrument. Similar to how we determine the efficiency of a windmill by measuring how fast its sails are moving, we intend to quantify protein transporting functions by measuring the speeds and amplitudes of the relative movements between protein compartments. With this unique quantification tool for transmembrane protein functions, we can make a huge breakthrough in understanding the key factors that modulate transmembrane protein functions in the body.

Kathryn Harrison | Communication
Sharing a (Cyber)Space: Fostering Relationship Maintenance and a Sense of Community in an Assisted Living Community Through Virtual Reality
For most residents of an assisted living community (ALC), the loss of social network ties could damage their access to social support and essential resources, as well as social engagement and attachments. The central focus of this study was to further understand the positive implications of virtual reality on social isolation and engagement in an ALC. It is possible that interacting with one another through VR in an ALC could improve quality of life, closeness, and sense of community. This in turn could allow residents to form and maintain deeper connections to one another and thrive in a potentially stressful and lonely stage of life.  

Eric Jones | ​​​Physics
You Are What You Eat: Linking the Gut Microbiome to Host Behavior
The microbes that inhabit your gut can regulate your mood, your appetite, and your health, but fundamental questions remain: Which microbes are good for you, and which are bad? How can you predict which microbes will colonize your gut? Can you deliberately alter your gut microbes to modify your behavior or health? We use fruit fly experiments and theoretical models to address these questions.

Caroline Owens | Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology
Changes in Cross-Habitat Nutrient Subsidies
High elevation plant communities are restricted by a lack of nutrients, and often rely heavily on 'subsidies' of energy and material that come from lakes and streams. In California's Sierra Nevada, these aquatic-derived subsidies are changing rapidly. Warmer temperatures, changes in precipitation, and the introduction of predators such as trout all threaten to disrupt the movement of subsidies across ecosystem boundaries. Our project investigates the effects of this disruption on recipient terrestrial systems.

​Jennifer Walker | ​​Mechanical Engineering
The Micro-Hammer-Impacting Neuroscience One Cell at a Time
The micro-Hammer project studies Traumatic Brain Injury at the single cell level. In my past talk I described the need for this area of research and the basics behind the device we designed. With this year's talk I can now include biological results and a better idea for future directions.

Jiajia Zheng | ​​Environmental Science & Management
Reducing Global Carbon Footprint of Plastics
Global life cycle GHG emissions of plastics was 1.7 Gt CO2e in 2015, which would grow to 6.5 Gt CO2e by 2050 under the current trajectory. My study demonstrates that only by using a multi-layered approach including renewable energy, recycling, bio-based plastics and slowing down our demand of plastics, can we achieve an absolute reduction.