Preview of Grad Slam prelim rounds 3 and 4: Tuesday, April 9

by Daina Tagavi, Professional Development Peer
Monday, April 08, 2019 8:00 AM

The 7th Annual Grad Slam continues with prelim rounds 3 and 4. Come cast your People's Choice vote, which 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. 

Tue Apr 9 | 11a-12p
Engineering Science Building 1001

​Austin Abrams | C​hemistry
A Versatile Tool for Biosensing and Unfolding Chemical Reactions in Real Time 
Why should wearable devices be limited to measuring our heart rate, body movement, and blood glucose levels (that is, only for diabetic patients willing to experience the pain)? In this age of nanotechnology and data science, we should be able to predict illness and guide our daily nutrition and exercise habits based on user-friendly and accessible information on a wide array of molecules found in our bodies. In the UCSB Nanolab, I am building a nanofluidic surface sensing platform that could allow for fully autonomous, integrated health monitoring at a fraction of the cost and size of current solutions. In addition, this is a promising tool for unfolding chemical reactions that occur over rapid timescales.

Ana Sofia Guerra | ​Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology
Cloudy with a Chance of Bird Poop: A ​Tale of Seabirds and Nutrients
Wildlife can completely transform the habitats they inhabit. Seabirds, in particular, can transform ecosystems through nutrient excretion - they continuously deposit nutrient rich feces (guano) onto terrestrial and marine environments. The Channel Islands, off the coast of Central California, support some of the largest colonies of Western Gulls, a local seabird. I am exploring the amount of guano​ “raining” down on the islands and the impact rain of guano might have on these ecosystems.

​Avi McClelland-Cohen | ​Communication
From #MeToo to #WeToo: Constituting Movement Identity in a Digitally Networked Context
In social movement organizing, formal structures may emerge that ironically undermine a movement's ability to accomplish large-scale goals--especially so when emergent structures represent professionalized practices modeled after the business world. Trends toward professionalization of the political sector have widespread implications for whether and how movement actors achieve their goals, but the literature has not yet traced how the formalization of professional practices occurs on-the-ground in the everyday interactions of movement leaders and organizers. This project uses a contemporary case study of a large grassroots organization to examine how the communicative practices of leaders and members constitute a professional social movement organization. Findings shed light on how different approaches to power shape leaders' communicative practices, and how these practices can sometimes ironically reproduce the very structures that movement actors set out to transform.

Luke Rosedahl | Dynamical Neuroscience
How Did I Know That: Category Learning and the Human Brain
Categorization is an essential part of the human experience. Every object we recognize, every friend we see, and every car we avoid while driving requires categorization. I will discuss how we study category learning and why it is important.

​Marshall Sharpe | ​Art
Memory, Nostalgia, and Privilege in the South
My paintings and research focus on the life of my grandmother, Bell Mahan, who grew up in Memphis during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.  Because Bell died before I was born, my work builds a bridge to a grandmother I never met. Using primary sources such as journals, a forgotten box of family photographs, and interviews with individuals such as Louise Johnson, her lifelong, African-American maid, my work unpacks themes of memory, privilege, and nostalgia in the deep South.

Juliette Verstaen | Environmental Science & Management
Pros in Procrastination? Estimating the Consequences of Delaying Marine Management
Three billion people in the world rely on fish for food and their livelihood, but the majority of global fisheries are in bad shape. Management actions to protect this resource are difficult to implement, and in some instances not implemented at all. The effects this delay can have on fish populations and the availability of food is not fully understood. I explored the consequences of delaying in a case study of marine reserves as management action in the Gulf of California, Mexico.  

Julie Zurbuchen | Earth Science
Reconstructing Sea-Level in Antarctica: Where is the Missing Ice?
Studies of past sea levels from locations across the globe help us to reconstruct past ice sheets, and predict future global sea-level rise. At the peak of the last ice age, ~20,000 years ago, much of the water that is today in the ocean was frozen in these ice sheets. However, current models of ice sheets are "missing" ~20 m of global sea-level rise worth of ice. Here, I present a sea-level curve from the Antarctic Peninsula that may improve our ice sheet reconstructions and eventually answer the question: where is the "missing ice"?

Tue Apr 9 | 3-4p
SRB Multipurpose Room

Caroline Ackley | ​Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
Defying Gravity: A Worm Story
You might think that the millimeter-long eyeless round worm, C elegans, wouldn't know its head from its hindquarters. However, my research suggests that this tiny animal can navigate a three-dimensional environment by 'deyfing' gravity. Understanding the genes, proteins, and neurons that enable this behavior has implications for cell biology and neuroscience.

Kelsey Dowdy | Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology 
The Song of the Pain of the World: A Non-Native Reed's Life & Death in California Watersheds
Arundo donax, a reed from the Middle East, is traditionally made into a flute that sings the song of the pain of the world. Arundo populations have established throughout California, thriving in degraded watersheds and singing of the landscape's pain; however, Arundo is targeted by land managers for removal and native plant restoration without addressing the source of the pain that this weed represents. My research aims to understand Arundo holistically from establishment to decomposition -- from the agricultural practices that enable its success to its effects on watershed nutrient cycling -- to contribute to wise and informed land management decisions.

Tom Ekman | Education
Mexican Students: Learning Beyond Textbooks
What's it like to be a first-year PhD student? Often quite different from our expectations. We may find that we have good ideas, but we have no idea how to turn them into academic research. Being a 1st year student is both humbling and awesome; it is a unique experience of whittling down one's ideas into a workable research track.

Athith Krishna | Electrical & Computer Engineering
GaN You See the Future? Gallium Nitride Electronics: Pathway for the Next Computing Revolution
Energy needs of the present population of humans is increasing more than ever, and this automatically implies the need to develop extremely energy efficient systems for electronics. A transistor is at the heart of every electronic system and fabrication of highly energy efficient transistors would go a long way in preventing energy going away as waste. Wide-Bandgap materials are clear alternatives to the Beyond-silicon phase of electronics. This talk will introduce one to Gallium nitride(GaN) materials system and its applications in GaN CMOS. 

Samantha McCuskey | Chemical Engineering
How Could Bacteria Power the World?
The bacterial world is full of microbes with extraordinary abilities, among them the skill to produce electricity. In nature, these “electrogenic” bacteria generate current as part of their metabolism and we are creating materials to give that ability to non-electrogenic bacteria. This approach could improve applications such as wastewater treatment, sustainable electricity generation, and bioelectrosynthesis.

Phoebe Racine​ | Environmental Science & Management
Big Mussel: Will They Eat Us Out of the Water?
The Southern California Bight is a highly productive ecosystem, raising interest in its potential to support aquaculture operations, especially mussel farming. With a swell of applications in the permitting pipeline, California has the chance to develop an offshore aquaculture industry. However, there is concern that too much farming could lead to a reduction in Net Primary Productivity (NPP). In this presentation, I'll introduce scenarios that explore ecological thresholds of futuristic mussel farming.

Naveen Venkatesan | Materials
"Magic Paint" - Using Hybrid Perovskites for Efficient Solar Cells
Perovskites are poised to revolutionize the solar cell industry by providing a cheap alternative to current technology. By creating an "ink" of perovskite materials and "painting" them onto a surface, one can create a solar cell that is already breaking efficiency records. However, increasing how long these materials stay stable before degrading is a key impediment to commercialization and we hope our research can help solve this problem.