Health sciences dominate winning Screech pitches

By Patrick Kurp, Engineering Communications
November 13, 2017
Originally Posted to Rice Engineering

Research rooted in health and medicine dominated the winning pitches at the sixth annual Screech Competition, sponsored by the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL).
Nineteen graduate students from eight of the nine engineering departments at Rice University participated in the event, held Nov. 7 in McMurtry Auditorium of Duncan Hall.
“This year was dominated by the health sciences. The majority were very well prepared.  In the past the quality of the pitches has fluctuated. This year, they all did a great job,” said Kaz Karwowski, RCEL executive director.
Melody Tan, a second-year graduate student in bioengineering (BIOE), took first place and was awarded a $500 prize for her pitch, “Improving Oral Cancer Diagnosis with High-Resolution Microendoscopy.” Her adviser is Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Malcolm Gillis University Professor and professor of BIOE.
Second place was a three-way tie, with $200 going to each of the winners:
Aswathy Girija, third-year student in electrical and computer engineering (ECE), “Know What You Breath In: Optical Sensing of Trace Gases,” advised by Frank Tittel, J.S. Abercrombie Professor of ECE, and professor of BIOE.
Amit Jain, third-year student in chemical and biomolecular engineering (ChBE), “An Environmentally Friendly Approach to Remove Salt Ions from Water,” advised by Rafael Verduzco, associate professor of ChBE.
Sudha Yellapantula, third-year student in ECE, “Analyzing Brain Dynamics Involved in Human Language,” advised by Behnaam Aazhang, J.S. Abercrombie Professor of ECE.
The Audience Choice Award and a $150 prize went to Arun Mahadevan, a fifth-year graduate student in BIOE, “The Social Network of Stem Cells,” advised by Amina Qutub, assistant professor of BIOE.
BIOE was named Best Department and awarded $200. The audience numbered about 50 and the judges included C. Fred Higgs, III, RCEL faculty director; Karwowski; and Tom Phalen, lecturer in engineering leadership.
Screech participants received coaching from Jan Hewitt and Gayle Moran of the RCEL communications faculty. Screech sponsors included Rick and Cheryl Mifflin, Chuck Newell and Hanadi Rifai.
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