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Top California Graduate Scientists to Present at Girls in STEAM 2021 

These inspiring female graduate students will share their three-minute presentations that aim to make their complex, high-level scientific research more accessible to the public.
Four of California’s top graduate school scholars recognized in the University of California, Irvine Grad Slam 2021 competition will present their award-winning research to young female STEAM enthusiasts at St. Margaret’s Girls in STEAM 2021 Symposium on April 20. Representing the fields of mathematical computation, systems biology, biomedical engineering, material science and neuroscience, these inspiring female graduate students will share their award-winning three-minute dynamic and highly engaging presentations that aim to make their complex, high-level scientific research more accessible to the public.

Coined “mind-bending research made simple,” University of California Grad Slam is an annual contest at all of its campuses to make scientific research accessible by providing emerging scientists and scholars with the skills to engage the public in their work. The UC Grad Slam showcases and awards the best three-minute research presentations by graduate scholars across the 10-school university system highlighting the excellence, importance and relevance of UC graduate scholars and their research. The program is also designed to increase graduate students' communication skills and their capacity to effectively present their work with poise and confidence.

Four of UC Irvine’s top 2021 Grad Slam finalists, including Champion Leslie Heid, will present at the St. Margaret’s event, which will be held virtually this year. Doctoral-candidate Heid will move on to the statewide UC Grad Slam finals in May. This is the fourth year UCI Grad Slam female winners and finalists have presented at St. Margaret’s Girls in STEAM Symposium.

“We often say, if you can see it, you can be it. We are very honored and excited to welcome back amazing female scientists from UC Irvine who are incredible role models for young women and girls. They are very impressive, dynamic and cool women tackling important real-world issues and challenges with their research. I know they will captivate and resonate well with our attendees,” said St. Margaret’s Director of Educational Technology and Girls in STEAM organizer Angela Mackenzie. “These women embody and illustrate the many paths and abilities of women in STEAM fields for our girls and young women. Their presentations are a must-see, and we are grateful for them dedicating their time to the symposium and our girls.”

UCI Grad Slam Winners Presenting at Girls in STEAM 2021 are:

UCI Grad Slam 2021 Champion Leslie Heid: Mathematical, Computational, and Systems Biology

Research: Quantifying DNA Methylation Pseudotime to Rewrite a Cell’s Fate

Leslie Heid moved to California to pursue higher education and recently achieved a BA in Applied Mathematics with a focus on Physics from California State University, Fullerton. Having now entered her Ph.D. graduate phase at University of California, Irvine, Leslie is looking forward to working on a wide range of lab projects; already she has developed an equation for determining pseudo time in DNA methylation and is now experimenting with really cool lasers.  She is currently employed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory modeling spacecraft communications needs for the Deep Space Network (moon and beyond). Leslie keeps herself very busy most of the time, but has in the past made a career of playing contract bridge and enjoys listening to audiobooks about history and high-fantasy.

UCI Grad Slam 2021 2nd Place Winner Jessica Vidmark: Biomedical Engineering

Research: Deep Neural Stimulation to Aid Movement Disorders in Children

Jessica Vidmark is a 3rd-year Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. student in the Sanger Lab at University of California, Irvine. She received her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology with summa cum laude honors and the Faculty Honors Award, thereafter graduating from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden with a master’s degree in Medical Engineering. Jessica’s research revolves around investigating neural connectivity in deep brain regions, with the goal to provide the most effective treatment possible for children with movement disorders.

UCI Grad Slam 2021 3rd Place Winner Hamsi Radhakrishnan: Neurobiology and Behavior/Mathematical Computational and Systems Biology

Research: Diffusion Weighted MRI to Predict Cell Count in the Brain

Hamsi Radhakrishnan is a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Craig Stark’s Lab in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at University of California, Irvine. She uses MRI and computational modeling to study how the structural properties of the brain change with age, disease, and cognitive differences. In college, she majored in biotechnology engineering, where she created anti-bacterial carbon nanoparticles using groundnut shells. She also serves as the co-chair for the K-12 Ambassador Committee in the Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, where they host events to get children excited about science! When not doing science and outreach, she enjoys poetry, cooking, board games, and watching especially terrible romantic comedies (the cheesier the better, obviously).  

UCI Grad Slam 2021 Finalist Ying Huang: Materials Science and Engineering

Research: Engineer a Catalyst to Help with Natural Resources

Ying Huang is pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering at UC Irvine. Before entering UCI, she earned her master's degree at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Her research is helping in diversifying the energy options and decreasing greenhouse gases emission. Outside of the study, Ying enjoys playing the piano and reading some novels.

About and Register for Girls in STEAM 2021
Girls in STEAM 2021 is for all girls in grades 4 – 12 in the Southern California area— those who are already advanced STEAM scholars and those who just want to check it out and learn more about science, technology, engineering, arts and math because the fields of STEAM need their talents, interests, perspectives and skills. The event will be held virtually via Zoom this year. Click here to register and for more information. There is no cost to attend the event. Deadline to register is April 1, 2021.

Girls in STEAM was created by STEAM educators at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School to encourage girls into STEAM courses and academic paths because females in particular are underrepresented in advanced STEAM courses in high school and higher education and in professional fields of industry. Research shows that more diverse workforces, like having a gender balance, results in higher efficiency and more creative outcomes—essentially STEAM and the world need the perspective, talents, ideas and ingenuity of girls and women. Girls in STEAM has been a tremendous success, welcoming hundreds of future “women in STEAM,” from across Southern California and an incredible array of inspiring women leaders in their fields – engineers, scientists and researchers, medical doctors and nurses, computer programmers and technology, and entrepreneurs in conversation, collaboration and celebration of STEAM. Over the years, the event has included key note speaker presentations, hands-on workshops and activities, break-out panel discussions by field, and a mentoring lunch, and presentations from UCI Grad Slam finalists. Due to Orange County health and safety guidelines for large gatherings at this time, Girls in STEAM 2021 will be held virtually.
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