November 16: Graduate Researchers to Be Joined by Miss Virginia 2019 at Nutshell Games

A group of people pose on a stage with a screen behind them that reads Center for Communicating Science Nutshell Games
The Nutshell Games brings research to a public audience at the Moss Arts Center.

Where can you learn about 30 research projects in 45 minutes? At Virginia Tech’s Nutshell Games, to be held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, November 16.

Hosted by Virginia Tech’s Center for Communicating Science and held in conjunction with the Virginia Tech Science Festival, the fourth annual Nutshell Games will take place in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre at the Moss Arts Center at the conclusion of the day-long Virginia Tech Science Festival.

Thirty Virginia Tech graduate students will each have 90 seconds to present their research–research in a nutshell–to the audience at this friendly science communication competition. Three winners, determined by a panel of judges to have been the most engaging and to have communicated their research the most clearly, will each receive a $500 prize. All of the contestants will receive a professional quality video recording of their talk–and the opportunity to share their research.

New this year: While the judges convene to determine the three winners, Miss Virginia 2019 and Virginia Tech dual degree graduate (systems biology in the College of Science and biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) Camille Schrier will perform a chemistry demonstration onstage. Schrier performed the talent portion of the Miss Virginia competition in a lab coat, goggles, and rubber gloves, using a hydrogen peroxide reaction to shoot colorful foams into the air.

Schrier is currently a doctor of pharmacy student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her platform issue for the Miss Virginia competition was opioid abuse and drug safety.

“I’ve loved science since I was a little girl,” she said to introduce her competition demonstration. She ended: “Keep an eye out, because science really is all around us!” Schrier hopes to inspire girls across Virginia to explore the world of science.

Nutshell Games presenters this year include graduate students from a wide variety of research fields, including human development, biomedical engineering, plant and environmental sciences, industrial and systems engineering, geosciences, biology, electrical engineering, psychology, nutrition, food science and technology, and many more.

With an emphasis on communicating to a public audience, the Nutshell Games will be judged by a panel of eight people from both on and off campus. The judges are

  • Karen DePauw, dean of graduate education, Virginia Tech
  • Reiss Gidner, Virginia Tech theatre arts and animal and poultry sciences double major
  • Kwame Harrison, associate professor, sociology, Virginia Tech
  • Steve Hulburt, Virginia Tech alumnus and science educator
  • Sarah McAnulty, Skype a Scientist founder and squid researcher
  • Odessa Mayalorca, 7th grader, Blacksburg Middle School
  • Molly Morris, 7th grader, Eastern Elementary/Middle School
  • Bob Whiton, Virginia Tech chemistry alumnus

Nutshell Games presentations have been called “very uplifting,” “interesting and inspiring,” and “truly a sight to see!”  The event is open to the public free of charge.

The following graduate students will be competing in this year’s Nutshell Games:

  1. Emma Coleman, The Road to Healthier Neighborhoods, Civil Engineering
  2. Farshad Farkhondehmaal, What Is Burning Our Forests?, Management Systems Engineering
  3. Emily Kieffer, Head Impact Exposure and Concussion Tolerance in Men’s and Women’s Collegiate Rugby, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics
  4. Tanya Mitropoulos, Work Work Work Work Work: The Impact of Post-Work Emailing on Recovery and Well-Being, Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  5. Elisa Gagliano, Radical SAM Enzymes, Life Sciences
  6. He Jiang, Is It Okay for Teenagers to Have an Opposite-Sex Bestie?, Economics
  7. Cynthia Hampton, “Good” Men, “Bad” Systems?, Engineering Education
  8. Seied Ali Safiabadi Tali, Cell Detection by Plasmon-Enhanced Upconversion Luminescence, Electrical Engineering
  9. Gourav Sharma, Understanding DNA: The Door to the Future of Agriculture, Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science
  10. Amy Moore, Apples to Alcohol, Food Science and Technology
  11. Elizabeth Shadle, Understanding Frogs in a Hotter, Dryer World: An Experimental Pond Approach, Biological Sciences
  12. Grace Davis, Cancer Vacation, Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise
  13. Max Mikel-Stites, Can You Hear Better if You’re Lopsided?, Engineering Mechanics
  14. Brittany Nackley, What’s Driving Us Crazy?, Biological Psychology
  15. Mostafa Mohammed, Enhance Teaching of Computer Science Theory Courses, Computer Science
  16. Nastaran Khalili, Modeling and Analyzing Fake News Diffusion Through Social Media, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  17. Chandani Shrestha, Promoting Conscientious Discussions in Classrooms Using ThoughtSwap, Computer and Information Sciences
  18. Maede Maftouni, Smart Factory, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  19. Parul Sharma, “Hi Alexa, What’s Wrong with My Tomato Plant?”, Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology
  20. Connor Owens, Who Is Talking to You Before You Are Born?, Animal Science, Dairy
  21. Renata Carneiro, How Do You Choose Your Food?, Food Science and Technology
  22. Vaishakhi Suresh, Opportunities and Challenges in Exoskeleton-Based Rehabilitation, Industrial and Systems Engineering
  23. Yezi Yang, Who Killed the Archaeocyathids?, Geosciences
  24. Jessica Resor, Alexa, How Do Families Use You?, Human Development and Family Science
  25. Stephanie Edwards Compton, What Do a Jungle and a Tumor Have in Common?, Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise
  26. Bailey Walker, Cellular Communication Within the Cumulus Oocyte Complex, Animal and Poultry Science
  27. Ziling Wu, Biomimetic Materials Research: What Can We Learn from Natural Structural Materials?, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  28. Zahra Moghimi, Helping a Machine to See, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  29. Kulyash Zhumadilova, Genome Architecture, Biological Sciences
  30. Holly Morrison, Growing Mini Organs to Study the Development of Colorectal Cancer, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences

(A version of this story appears on the CCS website.)

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