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2015 IGPS Presentations - Compelling and Innovative As Ever

Two students talking next about a poster presentation
Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - 12:00am

For the the fifth consecutive year, the Graduate Student Association (GSA) has successfully coordinated and hosted the Interdisciplinary Graduate and Professional Student Symposium (IGPS) at UC Davis. IGPS attracts a diverse group of students - as both participants and attendees - because of its creative, comprehensive and collaborative nature. The symposium features panels, presentations, performances, and art work, which often merge research topics that would otherwise seem incongruent. This year’s IGPS also featured a new segment, Grad Slam, a competition which encourages participants to demonstrate their research and ability to communicate to a general audience in just under three minutes! Read more about UC Davis’ first Grad Slam winner and his upcoming travels to the Bay Area, where he will represent UC Davis and compete with other finalists from the University of California.

One of the most engaging talks this year was given by Neuroscience and Psychology graduate student Abigail Laman-Maharg, whose oral presentation, Stress and Sex: How Context Affects Depression, won the $5,000 Chancellor’s Grand Prize for Best Oral Presentation and Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Social Sciences.

Laman-Maharg used a mouse model to study how stress affects males and females differently in the context of anxiety and depression. “Anxiety and depression are almost twice as common in women as in men, but most...animal models used to study these disorders are male,” she said. “We really need more people studying anxiety and depression in females,” she concluded.

On the art and performance-driven spectrum of IGPS, Anna Davidson, Ph.D. candidate in plant sciences and current MFA student in art studio, astonished the audience with Plant Theremin and won Dean’s Prize for Best Artwork, which was also accompanied by a $1000 award from Graduate Studies.

The theremin, also known as the etherphone, is an early electronic musical instrument produced by Soviet government-sponsored research on proximity sensors, but has remained a unique instrument that has captivated many. The instrument is played without any physical contact. “The thereminist stands in front of the instrument moving [her] hands near the two antennae, one...responsible for pitch, and the other, volume. These antennae act as plates in a capacitor. The difference between the frequencies of the two oscillators at each moment allows the creation of a different tone in the audio frequency range, resulting in audio signals that are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker,” Davidson explained.

Davidson’s background in plant physiology and her interest in the unique instrument inspired her to build a theremin made out of a plant. She uses the plant theremin by holding her hand up to the plant and literally “playing” the notes of the plant. “The aim of this new musical instrument is to bring people, music and plants together and to invoke curiosity of plants, physics and music,” she expressed. (See a video of Davidson talking about and playing a plant theremin.)

GSA saw the new UC-wide Grad Slam tournament as an opportunity to expand participation from students interested in intersecting disciplines and stimulate more public interest in the diverse research happening on campus.

Forrest “Ryan” Dowdy, a graduate student in Food Science & Technology, won Dean’s Prize for Best Grad Slam Presentation, along with a $1000 award from Graduate Studies, for Powering California with Food Waste. The Simmons Lab, for which Dowdy works, asks questions about how to use California’s food waste for renewable energy. His own project uses “microbial fuel cells” to generate electricity from food waste. “[The microbial fuel cells] are essentially living batteries. This [project] is very exciting to me personally because it involves food, water and energy, which are crucial issues right now for California,” Dowdy said.

Dowdy, along with Laman-Maharg and Davidson, are just a few of the individuals whose research have raised important questions and compelled both audience and judges to expand their ideas about the transformative nature and potentiality of interdisciplinary studies.

“I feel like [IGPS] is really growing into something that UC Davis is known for. Talking to external groups, I know that other campuses are beginning to model after IGPS,” says Robyn Jimenez, coordinator of the 2015 IGPS. “It’s really a team effort. We have great support from administrators and graduate studies. Everything went really well.”

Graduate and professional students often find themselves immersed in their own programs and research, and IGPS is a fantastic opportunity to connect with others. It’s also a great way for UC Davis graduate and professional students to showcase their research to the broader community. Davidson, Abby, and Dowdy reflected on the value of the interdisciplinary experience.

  • “[IGPS is] a great way to bring students from disciplines all over campus together to exchange...work and ideas.” — Davidson
  • “It’s great practice in presenting...work to a general audience. I [also] really enjoyed hearing about research projects going on in other departments.” — Abby
  • “It’s obvious that we have a diverse and talented group of graduate students at UC Davis. I’m looking forward to future IGPS competitions…[and] I’m proud to be an Aggie.” — Dowdy

2015 Interdisciplinary Graduate & Professional Student Symposium Awards

Oral Talk Presentation Awards

Chancellor’s Grand Prize for Best Oral Presentation | Abigail Laman-Maharg, Stress and Sex: How Context Affects Depression. Neuroscience/Psychology. $5000 Awarded by Office of the Chancellor.

Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies | Annalisa Teixeira, The Role of Keyboarding in the Development and Rentention of L2 Spanish Vocabulary. Spanish and Portuguese. $1000 Awarded by College of Letters and Science.

Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Social Sciences | Abigail Laman-Maharg, Stress and Sex: How Context Affects Depression. Neuroscience, Psychology. $1000 Awarded by College of Letters and Science.

Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Mathematical and Physical Sciences | Allison Rubin, Using Li diffusion to track thermal histories within single zircon crystals. Geology. $1000 Awarded by College of Letters and Science.

Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Engineering | Jeff Kessler, Quantifying Technology Innovation. College of Engineering. $1000 Awarded by College of Engineering.

Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Education | Michele Zugnoni, Encouraging Empowerment Through Expression. School of Education. $1000 Awarded by School of Education.

Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Nursing | Jerry John Nutor, Household Resources as Determinants of Child Mortality in Ghana. Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. $1000 Awarded by Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Medicine | Elizabeth Fox, Elucidating the antigenic epitopes of maternal autoantibodies in ASD: Establishing biomarkers and developing an animal model. Immunology. $1000 Awarded by School of Medicine.

Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Veterinary Medicine | Laura Budd, One Health Nicaragua: Empowering current & future health workers in Nicaragua & California. School of Veterinary Medicine. $1000 Awarded by School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Biological Sciences | Marla McPherson, Understanding The First Effective Vaccination Against A Cancer: Interactions of Marek's Disease Virus And Vaccines With The Host Genome. Integrative Genetics and Genomics. $1000 Awarded by College of Biological Science.

Dean’s Prize for Best Oral Presentation in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences | Junai Gan, Digestion of complementary food proteins by human milk proteases. Food Science and Technology. $1000 Awarded by College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Poster Presentation Awards

Vice Chancellor’s Prize for Best Poster | Laura Corson & Charlie Dharmasukrit, Student nurses' perception of self-efficacy, readiness, and perceived clincial judgement through the use of multi-patient simulation: A pilot study. Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. $1000 Awarded by Vice Chancellor for Research.

Second Place for Best Poster | Nicole Narayan, Early infant diet has sustained impact on the immune system. Integrative Genetics and Genomics. $500 Awarded by Vice Chancellor for Research.

Third Place for Best Poster | Laura McGowan, Improving modeled snow depth and density within a coupled multi-layer-vegetation-atmosphere model. Land Air Water Resources. $250 Awarded by Vice Chancellor for Research.

Panel Sessions Awards

Provost’s Prize for Best Student Organized Session | Katja Herges, Jerry John Nutor, Venita Sivamani, Vanessa Segundo, Peter Narby, Kristina Victor, Interdisciplinary Research and Practice. Interdisciplinary Panel. $2000 Awarded by Office of the Provost.

Art and Performance Awards

Dean’s Prize for Best Artwork | Anna Davidson, Plant Theremin. Art Studio. $1000 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

Second Place for Best Artwork | Andria Hautamaki, Chilean Patagonia: Ranching Between Ice and Sky. International Agricultural Development. $50 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

Second Place for Best Artwork | Ingrid Youngworth, Unwrapped in Early Days. Integrative Genetics and Genomics. $50 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

Second Place for Best Artwork | Katherine Ingram, Night Fliers. Wildlife Fish and Conservation Biology. $50 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

Dean’s Prize for Best Performance | Akshata Mudinoor, Maria Cardona, Nardrapee Karuna, Jennifer Nill, Scott Strobel, It's All About Cellulase - from waste to liquid gold - converting agricultural waste into energy. Biological and Agricultural Engineering. $1000 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

Second Place for Best Performance | Barbara Gunn, Miguel A. Zepeda Torres, Mariachi Cielito Lindo. Spanish and Portuguese. $500 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

2015 IGPS People’s Choice Awards

People’s Choice for Best Artwork | Anna Davidson, Plant Theremin. Art Studio. $250 Awarded by Vice Chancellor Student Affairs.

People’s Choice for Best Performance | Akshata Mudinoor, Maria Cardona, Nardrapee Karuna, Jennifer Nill, Scott Strobel, It's All About Cellulase - from waste to liquid gold - converting agricultural waste into energy. Biological and Agricultural Engineering. $250 Awarded by Vice Chancellor Student Affairs.

Second Place for People’s Choice for Best Performance | Siqi Li, Brain Storm. Design. $50 Awarded by Vice Chancellor Student Affairs.

People’s Choice for Best Student Organized Session | Donald Gibson, Perot Sealao, Tasha Thompson, Dianne Velasco, Genetics of Food: Beyond GMO. Interdisciplinary Panel. $250 Awarded by Vice Chancellor Student Affairs.

People’s Choice Award for Best Poster | Laura McGowan, Improving modeled snow depth and density within a coupled multi-layer-vegetation-atmosphere model. Land Air Water Resources. $250 Awarded by Vice Chancellor Student Affairs.

People’s Choice for Best Oral Presentation | Marla McPherson, Understanding The First Effective Vaccination Against a Cancer: Interactions of Marek's Disease Virus And Vaccines With The Host Genome. Integrative Genetics and Genomics. $250 Awarded by Vice Chancellor Student Affairs.

Second Place for People’s Choice for Best Oral Presentation | Abigail Laman-Maharg, Stress and Sex: How Context Affects Depression. Neuroscience, Psychology. $175 Awarded by Vice Chancellor Student Affairs.

Third Place for People’s Choice for Best Oral Presentation | Sahar Hihath, Dynamic of Nano-second Laser Ablation with High Temporal and Spatial Resolution. Physics. $100 Awarded by Vice ChancellorStudent Affairs.

Fourth Place for People’s Choice for Best Oral Presentation | Randi Jiménez, Utilizing wild Capsicum annuum germplasm for breeding Curtovirus resistance in cultivated chile pepper. Horticulture & Agronomy. $75 Awarded by Vice Chancellor Student Affairs.

Oral Presentation Honorable Mention | Brittany Jellison, Ocean Acidification Impairs Predator Avoidance Behaviors of an Intertidal Snail. Ecology. $50 Awarded by Vice Chancellor Student Affairs.

Oral Presentation Honorable Mention | Destaine Rose, GI inflammation within the ASD population. Immunology. $50 Awarded by Vice Chancellor Student Affairs.

1st Annual UC Davis Grad Slam Awards

Dean's Prize for Best Grad Slam Presentation | Forrest "Ryan" Dowdy, Powering California with Food Waste. Food Science & Technology. $1000 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

Second Place for Best Grad Slam Presentation | Jen Symons, Hitting the Ground Running. Biomedical Engineering. $500 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

Grad Slam Bracket 1 Winner | Sarah Carrat, Naphthalene cytotoxicity in microsomal epoxide hydrolase deficient mice. Pharmacology and Toxicology. $50 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

Grad Slam Bracket 2 Winner | Bert Frederich, Electrotaxis of Cardiac Progenitor Cells, Cardiac Fibroblasts, and induced Pluripotent Cardiac Progenitor Cells requires serum and is directed via VLA4- sVCAM. Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology. $50 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

Grad Slam Bracket 3 Winner | Jen Symons, Hitting the Ground Running. Biomedical Engineering. $50 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

Grad Slam Bracket 4 Winner | Forrest "Ryan" Dowdy, Powering California with Food Waste. Food Science & Technology. $50 Awarded by Graduate Studies.

See you at the 2016 UC Davis IGPS on April 7th and 8th, 2016! 

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