Science Slam’s 2015 Grand Slam Combines Scholarship and Entertainment

science-slam-banner Friday night, May 1st, was the culminating event for the College of Science’s inaugural Science Slam scholarship competition: the Grand Slam. During the event, held in the Johnson Center Atrium, six student researchers gave rousing and often comedic presentations about their research to a lay audience of over 130 in a battle for a $2000 scholarship prize.

The Science Slam competition events allow “students, faculty, and alumni to mingle and learn about the great research being conducted by students in the College of Science” said Kerone Wetter, the advisor of the GMU Science Slam student organization. The student organization is responsible for the logistics of the competition, additional outreach activities, and general body meeting support.

The competitors, called Slammers, were back on stage with polished presentations after winning smaller scholarships in preliminary Science Slam rounds. Judges for the Grand Slam event included the College of Science Associate Dean of Research Ali Andalibi, Alumni Chapter president Walter McLeod MS ’94, community partner Marcus Soriano of the Rotaract Club of DC, GGS Associate Professor Matt Rice, and Reid Schwebach, Coordinator of High School Outreach and Recruitment as well as the Governor’s School at Innovation Park.

Dr. Andalibi praised the students who presented, but also recognized that there is more work to be done in preparing other students to speak confidently and effectively about their research. Dr. Andalibi will continue to be directly involved with the program in the 2015-’16 academic year.

_MG_4917cropDr. Peggy Agouris, Dean of the College of Science closed the night by thanking the judges, audience and supporters, and presented the awards. The first place prize of $2000 was awarded to Sarah Kuppert, a grad student in Environmental Science & Policy, for her presentation titled Environmental DNA, while 2nd place went to Ryan Pfeifle, an undergraduate student studying Physics, for his presentation titled Microlensing Event Detection at the George Mason University Observatory. Second and third place presentations were awarded $500 each.

Slammers Juliana Moskowitz (BioEngineering) and Jaqueline Shaia (Biology), whose group presentation SNOT’s our Problem received 3rd place overall, commented that this program was so different from traditional poster presentations. “I’m really happy we were able to be involved because it gave us an opportunity to tell more people about what we do and get them excited about it in a fun way,” says Jaqueline.

The Science Slam program in the College of Science will expand in the 2015-’16 academic year to include outreach opportunities in the local community as well as extracurricular and co-curricular opportunities to help current students better craft effective pitches about their work.

About the College of Science

George Mason University’s College of Science (COS) offers over 40 interdisciplinary degree and certificate programs in physical, life, mathematical, earth and space sciences, data, forensics and policy to over 3000 students each year. The college, a crucial part of the university’s goal to promote research of consequence, accounts for roughly 30% of the university’s research expenditure. The college’s broad regional presence, combined with strategic national and international connections, reinforces the college’s mission to provide world-class scientific leadership important to modern society. George Mason University, located just outside of Washington, DC, is Virginia’s largest public research university. For additional information, email