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Research Live! Event Details

Research Live! header

Congratulations to our winners!

  • 1st Place: Rebecca Andrus, "Can We Reinvent the Toilet" (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
  • 2nd Place: Lucas Buccafusca, "The Tragedy of the Wind Turbine" (Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering)
  • 3rd Place: Mary Lyons, "In an Era of Academic Rigor, Play in Kindergarten" (Curriculum and Instruction)
  • People's Choice: Sana Saboowala, "Investigating the Biological Effects of Historical Trauma in South Asia" (Integrative Biology)

October 22, 2019
Stage 5 at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Competition begins at 4:00 pm

A reception will follow featuring the musical talents of the UI Graduate Saxophone Quartet, comprised of students from the School of Music, light refreshments, people’s choice award voting, and announcement of the winners. The first place winner will receive $300; second place will receive $200; third place will receive $150; and the people's choice winner will receive $100.

Emceed by Rama Paudel, PhD student in Crop Sciences


  • Rebecca Andrus, Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Mehmet Yalcin Aydin, Mechanical Science and Engineering
  • Mayank Boob, Biophysics and Quantitative Biology
  • Lucas Buccafusca, Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering
  • Abhilasha Gulhane, Technology Management
  • Dong Liu, Geography and Geographic Information Science
  • Mary Lyons, Curriculum and Instruction
  • Srinivasu Mudalagiriyappa, Pathobiology
  • Gelson Pagan, Bioengineering
  • Pranjali Priyadarshini, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Swati Rastogi, Urban and Regional Planning
  • Magen Rooney, Special Education
  • Sana Saboowala, Integrative Biology

Finals Judges

Rachael Dietkus Rachael Dietkus is the new Associate Director of Programs at Siebel Center for Design. She is a two-time alumna of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (BA - Sociology in 2000 and MSW - Leadership & Social Change in 2010). Prior to joining the remarkable Siebel Center for Design team, she was the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the School of Social Work and the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program Coordinator at Veterans Affairs. Rachael has had rich and unique experiences in the non-profit sector, federal government, and now higher education. Her knowledge of non-profits, cause-driven work, and appreciation for creative pursuits have reinforced her commitment to practice human-centered design via a social work lens.
Kevin O'brien Kevin O'Brien, Ph.D., is the Director of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and the Illinois State Water Survey at the Prairie Research Institute (PRI). There he focuses on promoting sustainable economic growth that contributes to the Illinois’ quality of life. Trained in macromolecular engineering, Dr. OBrien has engaged in research and commercialization of green energy technology while at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, SRI International, and Parsons Corp. He has managed multi-million-dollar programs on renewable and sustainable technologies worldwide. At PRI he has led DOE research to make carbon capture economical at coal-fired power plants.
Lori Raetzman Lori Raetzman, PhD is an Associate Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. She is also affiliated with the Neuroscience Program, Interdisciplinary Environmental Toxicology Program and the Institute for Genomic Biology. Lori teaches Endocrinology in the Molecular and Cellular Biology curriculum. She also conducts research on the development of the pituitary and hypothalamus, focusing on intrinsic signaling pathways and the impact of gestational exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Lori is invested in training the next generation of scientists and is currently chair of the Trainee and Career Development Core Committee at the Endocrine Society and Director of Graduate Studies in her department.
Denice Hood Denice Ward Hood is a Teaching Associate Professor of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership in the College of Education. She is affiliated with the Higher Education and Diversity & Equity in Education program areas since coming to UI in 2009. Dr. Hood’s scholarship addresses student access and persistence, online teaching and learning, and program evaluation. Recently (2016-2019), Dr. Hood served as the Director of Graduate Study for the EPOL department.
Tim Yang Tim Yang was last year's winner of Research Live!. He is pursuing a PhD in kinesiology with a focus on disability engineering. He develops smart technologies for people with disabilities, helping them to move and live more independently.