Three Graduate Researchers Named Winners of 2019 Nutshell Games

This photo shows about 30 people standing on a stage facing the audience (and the viewer) with a large slide behind them that reads "Nutshell Games" and "The Center for Communicating Science, among other text bits.
The 2019 Nutshell Games participants posed for a group photograph at the end of the presentation competition. Photo credit: Lauren Holt

Elizabeth ShadleVaishakhi Suresh, and Grace Davis were named prize winners at Virginia Tech’s 4th annual Nutshell Games, held November 16 at the Moss Arts Center.

Hosted by Virginia Tech’s Center for Communicating Science and held in conjunction with the Virginia Tech Science Festival, the Nutshell Games allow Virginia Tech graduate students 90 seconds to present their research–research in a nutshell–to a public audience. Three winners, determined by a panel of judges to have been the most engaging and to have communicated their research the most clearly, each receive a $500 prize. All of the contestants receive a professional quality video recording of their talk–and the opportunity to share their research.

Shadle, a graduate student in biological sciences, won with a kiddie pool and a talk titled “Understanding Frogs in a Hotter, Dryer World: An Experimental Pond Approach.”

Suresh, wearing an upper body “exoskeleton” that served to illustrate her talk, won with her presentation titled “Opportunities and Challenges in Exoskeleton-Based Rehabilitation.” She is studying industrial and systems engineering.

Davis, dressed for vacation and rolling a suitcase onto the stage, won with her talk “Cancer Vacation.” A human nutrition, foods, and exercise graduate student, she is researching cancer and obesity.

This photo shows three young women standing on a stage.
Elizabeth Shadle, Vaishakhi Suresh, and Grace Davis (left to right) were the 2019 Nutshell Games winners. Photo credit: Lauren Holt

While the judges convened to determine the three winners, Miss Virginia 2019 Camille Schrier (now Miss America!) performed a chemistry demonstration onstage. She talked to the audience about her Miss Virginia pageant experiences with a hydrogen peroxide reaction that shoots colorful foams out of glass cylinders. Schrier is a Virginia Tech dual degree graduate who majored in systems biology in the College of Science and biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Nutshell Games presenters this year included 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. Nutshell Games talks from this year and previous years can be viewed on the Center for Communicating Science YouTube channel.

With an emphasis on communicating to a public audience, the Nutshell Games were judged by a panel of eight people from both on and off campus, including two seventh graders. The judges were

  • 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, 7thgrader, Blacksburg Middle School
  • Molly Morris, 7thgrader, Eastern Elementary/Middle School
  • Bob Whiton, Virginia Tech chemistry alumnus

The following is a list of the graduate students who competed this year:

Emma Coleman, The Road to Healthier Neighborhoods, Civil Engineering

Emily Kieffer, Head Impact Exposure and Concussion Tolerance in Men’s and Women’s Collegiate Rugby, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics

Tanya Mitropoulos, Work Work Work Work Work: The Impact of Post-Work Emailing on Recovery and Well-Being, Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Elisa Gagliano, Radical SAM Enzymes, Life Science

Cynthia Hampton, “Good” Men, “Bad” Systems?, Engineering Education

Gourav Sharma, Understanding DNA: The Door to the Future of Agriculture, Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science

Amy Moore, Apples to Alcohol, Food Science and Technology

Elizabeth Shadle, Understanding Frogs in a Hotter, Dryer World: An Experimental Pond Approach, Biological Sciences

Grace Davis, Cancer Vacation, Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise

Max Mikel-Stites, Can You Hear Better if You’re Lopsided?, Engineering Mechanics

Brittany Nackley, What’s Driving Us Crazy?, Biological Psychology

Mostafa Mohammed, Enhance Teaching of Computer Science Theory Courses, Computer Science

Nastaran Khalili, Modeling and Analyzing Fake News Diffusion Through Social Media, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Chandani Shrestha, Promoting Conscientious Discussions in Classrooms Using ThoughtSwap, Computer and Information Sciences

Parul Sharma, “Hi Alexa, What’s Wrong with My Tomato Plant?”, Genetics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology

Connor Owens, Who Is Talking to You Before You Are Born?, Animal Science, Dairy

Renata Carneiro, How Do You Choose Your Food?, Food Science and Technology

Vaishakhi Suresh, Opportunities and Challenges in Exoskeleton-Based Rehabilitation, Industrial and Systems Engineering

Yezi Yang, Who Killed the Archaeocyathids?, Geosciences

Jessica Resor, Alexa, How Do Families Use You?, Human Development and Family Science

Stephanie Edwards Compton, What Do a Jungle and a Tumor Have in Common?, Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise

Bailey Walker, Cellular Communication Within the Cumulus Oocyte Complex, Animal and Poultry Science

Ziling Wu, Biomimetic Materials Research: What Can We Learn from Natural Structural Materials?, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Zahra Moghimi, Helping a Machine to See, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Kulyash Zhumadilova, Genome Architecture, Biological Sciences

Holly Morrison, Growing Mini Organs to Study the Development of Colorectal Cancer, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences

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