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2023 Grad Slam Finalists

UC Grad Slam logo blue and gold microphoneThe campus’s 2023 Grad Slam finalists are (listed alphabetically by last name):

Grad student Aneelman BrarAneelman Brar

Chemistry and Chemical Biology 

Title: "Recycling Carbon Dioxide; Fuel From Air"

Advisor: Professor Michael Findlater

Research: Aneelman is part of the Findlater group, where she is focused on developing the electrocatalyst based on pincer metal complexes for the direct reduction of captured carbon dioxide into renewable fuels and chemicals.


Ph.D. student Fakhrul BhuiyanFakhrul Bhuiyan

Mechanical Engineering 

Title: "Innovation in Lubricant Addititves – Better Products, Greener Earth"

Advisor: Professor Ashlie Martini

Research: Fakhrul is a computational researcher in the Martini Research Group. He uses molecular dynamics simulations, computer programming, and data analysis techniques to study the mechanical and chemical processes that happen at a sliding interface. His research aims to answer cutting-edge research questions regarding the friction, lubrication, and wear of bulk and nanomaterials to improve their performance.


Ph.D. student Mariela ColomboMariela Colombo

Environmental Systems

Title: "Green Hydrogen for a Greener Future"

Advisor: Professor Sarah Kurtz

Research: Mariela is part of the CEC-LDES project, where we use a computational model to analyze the role of Long Duration Energy Storage as well as other technologies for meeting decarbonization targets in California’s grid.


Ph.D. student Samuel EricksonSamuel Erickson


Title: "It's Full of Stars: Harnessing Light in Space"

Advisor: Professor Sayantani Ghosh

Research: Sam studies perovskite, a next-generation solar cell material. Through optical and electronic measurements, he is working to better understand how this semiconductor behaves in space and how it might be improved for future missions.


Graduate student Abhishek KumarAbhishek Kumar

Mechanical Engineering

Title: "Electric Vehicle Greases: Road to Clean Future"

Advisor: Professor Ashlie Martini

Research: Abhishek is part of the Martini Research Lab, where he developed a novel technique in collaboration with Chevron Corporation to analyze the performance characteristics of electric motor greases. This research will improve energy efficiency of electric vehicles for a clean environment and a better future.


Graduate student Dora MendezDora Mendez

Quantitative and Systems Biology 

Title: "A Diabetic Heart Hero - Thyroid Hormone"

Advisor: Professor Rudy Ortiz

Research: Dora is studying the effects of an exogenous thyroid hormone (thyroxine) treatment on substrate metabolism and redox biology in insulin resistant rat model of metabolic syndrome.


Graduate student Edwin Rivas MerazEdwin Rivas Meraz

Environmental Systems 

Title: "Fishing for Solutions: A New Tool to Treat Mercury Contaminated Sediments in Water"

Advisor: Professor Peggy O'Day

Research: Edwin's research is focused on the development and testing of a solid-phase media that can be applied for environmental remediation of mercury contaminated sediments.


Grad student Muztoba RabbaniMuztoba Rabbani

Materials and Biomaterials Science Engineering

Title: "Understanding Nanoparticles Better for Improved Usage"

Advisor: Professor Ashlie Martini

Research: Studying the deformation mechanisms of metal nanoparticles with molecular dynamics simulation.


Graduate student Jeremiah ReaganJeremiah Reagan

Materials and Biomaterials Science Engineering 

Title: "Shading Water for a Brighter Future"

Advisor: Professor Sarah Kurtz

Research: Jeremiah's work involves a variant design of solar canals using vertical bifacial solar panels. Instead of place solar panels directly over the water, a wall of vertical panels is placed along one side while a reflective tarp is stretched across the water. His research focuses on modeling the differences in energy output between designs, the suitability of different material to use for the tarp, and comparative cost effectiveness if scaled up.


Ph.D. student Ambarish VardanAmbarish Varadan

Quantitative and Systems Biology

Title: "Viruses within the human gut: Friends or Foes?"

Advisor: Professor Juris Grasis

Research: Ambarish is part of the Grasis Lab, where he is investigating whether and by what mechanism(s) bacteriophages activate human intestinal epithelial cells.