Adnan gives best graduate student elevator pitch

Mohammed Adnan won first place in Rice’s first campuswide Graduate Student Elevator Pitch Competition May 2.

A graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Adnan received $500 for his presentation, “Continuous Fibers of Boron Nitride Nanotubes.”

Three students tied for second place and each received $300: Jon Brame (Civil and Environmental Engineering), for “Get the Poop Out!”; Shuzhen Ye (Physics and Astronomy) for “Rydberg Atom and Solar System”; and Yu Jun Leong (Civil and Environmental Engineering) for “Particles and Public Health.”

Three awards were given for outstanding achievement in specific areas. Caroline Ewan (Shepherd School of Music) won the arts category for “Cypress Symphony.” Heather Dial (Psychology) won the letters category for “Evaluating Separable Semantic and Phonological Short-Term Memory Components in Stroke Patients Using a Novel Paradigm.” Mark Knight (Electrical and Computer Engineering) won the sciences category for “The OWLympics Challenge:” All three received a $100 gift card to the Rice Coffeehouse.

Chao Sun (Civil and Environmental Engineering) was voted the audience’s favorite and won an iPad mini for “Protection of Buildings Using Smart Tuned Mass Dampers.”

More than 30 graduate students participated in the Elevator Pitch Competition, including Navid Sakhavand from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

For the contest, which was emceed by Graduate Student Association (GSA) External Vice President JD Dornell, grad students had to give 90-second summaries about their research or studies in front of an audience of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members. More than 30 students participated. Volunteer judges rated each presentation on the student’s performance, content and ability to engage the audience intellectually. The challenge was for the grad students to convey the importance of their work just as if they were in an elevator with a potential investor and had to convince that person to fund their research.

“A primary objective of the competition was to promote visibility, communication and, eventually, collaboration amongt students from different departments and schools,” said Arnaud Chevallier, associate vice provost of academic affairs and graduate studies. “We’re delighted that the event helped engage students and other community members beyond their own disciplines to form a community of scholars.”

Before the competition began, Sanders gave special recognition to Rice alum John Sneider ’94 and Rice Emergency Medical Services (EMS). When the Elevator Pitch Competition was originally held April 12, Sneider experienced a cardiac arrest while he was sitting in the audience as a judge. Rice EMS provided treatment while the Houston Fire Department was en route to transport Sneider to the hospital. The competition was rescheduled, and Sneider, who has recovered after being in the hospital for a few weeks, returned to serve as a judge again.

The GSA and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies sponsored the competition.



About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.