Sara Molinari, a systems synthetic and physical biology graduate student, won the Audience Favorite Award at the fifth annual 90-Second Thesis Competition March 3 with her presentation titled “Cell Engineering: Differentiation.”
Because she received the most votes from members of the audience, Molinari was presented with a $500 travel grant from the Graduate Student Association. She also received a $150 prize for honorable mention in the biosciences category.
Eleven graduate students participated in this year’s competition, during which they each had 90 seconds to communicate the essence and importance of their research to a broad audience. They were evaluated on their message and delivery. Scores from more than 20 volunteer judges, including Rice staff and alumni and a variety of experts from outside the university, were tallied to determine a winner and an honorable mention in each of four interdisciplinary categories. Winners received $350 and honorable mentions received $150. The judges’ scores did not apply to the Audience Favorite Award.
Sapna Chhabra, a systems synthetic and physical biology graduate student, was the winner in the biosciences category. She presented “Stem Cells – A Model To Study Principles of Early Development.”
Liberal studies graduate student Sheila Mayfield won the arts, culture and language category with her presentation titled “Art Education Through Web-based Smartphone Audio Tours.” English graduate student Rachel Bracken won honorable mention for “National Bodies: Population Expansion and the Literature of American Public Health.”
Chemistry graduate student Yara Kadria-Vili won the materials category with a presentation titled “Carbon Nanotube for Monitoring the Safety of Aircraft and Pipelines.” Bioengineering graduate student Gordon Sun received honorable mention for “Engineering Synthetic Organisms for Biomaterials Production.”
Bioengineering graduate student Sangheon Han won the health and medicine category for “How To Win Hide and Seek with Cancer Cells.” Civil and environmental engineering graduate student Pingfeng Yu won honorable mention for “Harvesting Mother Nature’s Power (Bacteriophage) To Kill Superbugs.”
Seiichi Matsuda, dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies, presented welcoming remarks for the competition, which was held in Duncan Hall’s McMurtry Auditorium. History graduate student Blake Earle, who won the Best in Humanities Award at last year’s 90-Second Thesis Competition, served as emcee.