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UA Takes Top Prizes at first Southwest Showdown 3-Minute Grad Slam Competition

Submitted on May 22, 2018

University of Arizona Takes Top Prizes at first Southwest Showdown 3-Minute Grad Slam Competition

On April 28, three University of Arizona graduate students presented their research for a chance to win up to $3,000 at the region-wide “Southwest Showdown 3-Minute Grad Slam.” UA participants won first and second of the top three prizes.

The competition brings together the most distinguished graduate student presenters from the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the University of Nevada, Reno. Contestants describe their research in three-minute segments that are designed to engage a non-specialist audience. Twelve students competed for prizes totaling $6,500.

In timed TED Talk-style presentations, participants explained not only the content of their research but also its impact and value to society.

The three graduate students who were selected to represent the UA because of their excellent performance in the recent UA Grad Slam competition were:

Travis Sawyer, Optical Sciences, who presented "Uncovering the Spectral Fingerprint of Disease";

Lusine Gomtsian, Medical Pharmacology, who presented "The Opioid Crisis: Exploring the Brain for Solutions";

Valerie Madera-García, Epidemiology, who presented "Unexpected Visitors in Septic Tanks."

Travis Sawyer, a doctoral student in the UA College of Optical Sciences won 1st place, and Lusine Gomtsian, a doctoral student in the College of Medicine-Tucson won 2nd place.

The Southwest Showdown is hosted by the University of Arizona (UA), Northern Arizona University (NAU), the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). Judges for the event were Wardah Jamil, Lead Organizer, TEDxPhoenix; Jill Bray, Vice President for University Relations, ARCS Foundation; Marleen Weintraub, retired Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority employee and friend of the UNLV Graduate College; Emily Lin, Professor of Teaching and Learning, UNLV; Patricia Pohl, Professor and Program Chair of Physical Therapy, NAU; Kara Cleveland, Director, Graduate School Operations, UNR; and Rachel Zarndt, Director, Postdoctoral Affairs and Graduate Recruitment, UNR.