Lu and Reichel win grand prize at 90-second thesis contest

Both Steven Lu and Kimberly Reichel won the grand prize — $500 each — at the second annual Graduate Student 90-Second Thesis Competition Feb. 21.

Lu, an engineering graduate student, presented “Cartilage Regeneration Through Tissue Engineering.” Reichel, an applied physics and electrical and computer engineering graduate student, presented “Terahertz Waveguides: A Highway Between Research and Application.”

Graduate students who won awards at the 90-Second Thesis Competition were (from left) Heather Dial, Chad Byers, Aundrea Matthews, Kimberly Reichel, Rajoshi Biswas and Mayank Kumar. Not pictured: Eslam Elshahat and Steven Lu. (Photo by Cherrie Thompson)

For the competition, graduate students were told to give a brief overview of their work as if they were on the elevator at an academic conference with a potential employer or investor and had only 90 seconds — the length of the elevator ride — to convince that person that their research is interesting and worthy of support. A panel of Rice faculty, staff and alumni and Houston professionals judged the grad students on the message content and delivery.

More than 30 students entered this year’s competition, which was held in Duncan Hall’s McMurtry Auditorium. They were able to consult Rice’s Center for Written, Oral and Visual Communications for help with planning their presentations.

Mayank Kumar in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering was voted the audience’s favorite for his presentation, “Non-contact Detection of Vital Signs.” He won an iPad.

Awards were also given for the best presentation in academic subject areas. Each awardee received $300.

Eslam Elshahat in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Chad Byers in the Chemistry Department won awards for the best natural sciences presentation. Elshahat’s talk was titled “Going Back in Time” and Byers’ was “Light-based Electrochemistry at the Nanoscale.”

Aundrea Matthews in the Department of Religious Studies won the award for best humanities presentation, “Telling Stories Without Words.”

Heather Dial in the Department of Psychology won the award for best social sciences presentation, “Bat, Pat, Zip, Ship: Speech Perception and Short-term Memory Processes in Stroke.”

Rajoshi Biswas in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department won the award for best engineering presentation, “’Lie to Me’ – Adherence to Asthma Medication.”

About B.J. Almond

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