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2020 Grad Slam Finalists

This year's Grad Slam qualifying round had 21 participants. Each submitted a three-minute video pitch along with a three-slide presentation explaining their research to a general audience. 
The campus’s 10 Grad Slam finalists are:

Amber ArroyoAmber Arroyo, Psychological Sciences

“Are Smartphone Apps Helpful or Harmful for Sleep?”

Amber is a fourth year Ph.D. student. Her research combines evidence-based methods of behavior change with technology to deliver innovative health interventions to high-risk and hard to reach populations. She works with diverse forms of data (i.e., biomarkers, wearables, EMA, surveys, anthropometrics) to gain a comprehensive view of wellbeing as it is formed through the dynamic balance of biological, psychological, and social health.


Shayna BennettShayna Bennett, Applied Mathematics

“A New Tool to Fight Invasive Species”

Shayna is a third year Ph.D. student. Mathematics is a powerful tool for predicting changes in space and time. In Shayna's research, she is using partial differential equations to model the spread of invasive species across heterogeneous landscapes and the effect of network landscape features such as rivers and roads on spreading rate and pattern.


Phoebe CoyPhoebe Coy, Applied Mathematics

“Waving Hello to Accurate Approximations”

Phoebe is a second year master's student. She is developing a new method for approximating solutions to the wave equation.



Craig EnnisCraig Ennis, Quantitative and Systems Biology

“Identifying New Drug Targets for Drug-Resistant Biofilms”

Craig is a fourth year Ph.D. student. His research focus is on the unique antibiotic resistance properties of surface-attached microbial communities called biofilms. His doctoral research could significantly expand the understanding of antifungal resistance mechanisms and may lead to developing novel therapeutics against biofilm infections.


Melinda GonzalesMelinda Gonzales, Environmental Sciences

“Working with Dairy People and Farmers to Reduce Emissions From Cow Manure”

Melinda is a first year Ph.D. student. She is researching the potential of biochar, charred biomass, in reducing methane emissions produced from dairy manure management.



Deanna HallidayDeanna Halliday, Psychological Sciences

“Up in Smoke: Smokers' Cravings Change Their Beliefs, Not Just Their Smoking Behaviors”

Deanna is a third year Ph.D. student. In her Grad Slam presentation, Deanna presents the findings of a study where she measured how nicotine cravings influence beliefs about smoking.



Boe MendewalaBoe Mendewala, Physics

“The Solar Solution: Upgrading Energy Technology”

Boe is a sixth year Ph.D. student. Her research studies the optical properties of hybrid perovskite materials for solar energy and lighting applications.



Zachary PetrekZachary Petrek, Chemistry and Chemical Biology

“Do It Yourself: Diagnosing Diseases Without a Doctor”

Zachary is a fourth year Ph.D. student. His research focuses on developing self-diagnostic medical devices that are able to move diagnosis for a wide range of medical conditions from the doctor's office to one’s own home.



Heather SteverHeather Stever, Quantitative and Systems Biology

“Small Bugs, Big insight”

Heather is a second year Ph.D. student. She researches the microbial symbionts of seed bugs in order to understand how microbiomes shift when host diets and habitats drastically change.



Aaron WheelerAaron Wheeler, Physics

“Advancing Adoption of Solar Electric Automobiles”

Aaron is a third year Ph.D. student. His current research interests
are Solar module design, manufacture, and performance.