Two Graduate Students Win Awards at Research Live! Competition

Research live 2015

Robin Holland (left) and Ipek Tasan (right)

Ipek Tasan (Biochemistry) won First Place, and Robin Holland (Microbiology and Veterinary Medicine) won the People's Choice Award.

Congratulations to Ipek Tasan (Biochemistry) and Robin Holland (Microbiology and Veterinary Medicine) for their prize-winning presentations at the Graduate College’s first ever Research Live! Competition.

The 65 graduate students in the competition were challenged with presenting their research topic using only two slides in just three minutes. Presentations were scored on delivery, clarity, effectiveness of visual material, and accessibility of language.

Tasan's presentation, "Finding the Partners in Crime Causing Colon Cancer," described her work in the Zhao Lab researching the genetic changes that cause cancer. She is working to develop a method for removing genes that are the potential "partners in crime" causing cancer by using robotic automation and genetic engineering techniques. By determining absence of which two genes reverses the cancer, she hopes to identify novel cancer causative gene pairs, which can help designing more targeted, individualized therapies.

“Explaining my research in only 3 minutes was such a challenging and exciting experience,” said Tasan. “I am very honored to be the winner of the first Research Live! competition at UIUC.”

Holland’s presentation, “Taking Down the Powerhouse,” focused on her research in pathogenic microorganisms, specifically exploring a common strategy that pathogens use to cause disease. She characterized pathogens as an enemy that sends small bombs to their target, mitochondria, the body’s powerhouse.

Holland decided to focus on this topic due to her fascination of pathogens’ interaction with mitochondria while working in her current research laboratory under Dr. Steven Blanke, professor of microbiology.

“I decided that if I am ever going to improve my speaking skills, I need to do things that I am uncomfortable with, and even if I fail, at least I know I tried and can learn from those experiences and move forward next time,” said Holland.

The goal of this competition was for graduate students to think about their research from a different viewpoint. They had to convey a message that is easily understood by an average member of the community while also expressing the importance of their work. Second and third place went to Marc Ryan Gancayco, “Sublancin: An Antibiotic with a Sweet Side” (Chemistry) and Vahid Mirshafiee, “Targeted Delivery of Anticancer Drugs to Tumors” (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)

Watch a video of Tasan's presentation on "Finding the Partners in Crime Causing Colon Cancer."

Watch a video of Holland’s presentation on “Taking Down the Powerhouse.”

—Written by Nora McKay and Steph Adams

January 08, 2016.