By Robin Brooks

A Rad Roberts stands at a podium next to a sign listing the benefits of the Perfect Pitch session. Photo, Robin Brooks, eScience Institute

Rad Roberts co-moderates the event. Photo, Robin Brooks, eScience Institute

The Washington Research Foundation (WRF) Perfect Pitch and Poster Contest was held on Tuesday, July 12th in the HUB South Ballroom. Participants from all four of the WRF-funded research institutes at the University of Washington competed in the event, which challenges contestants to improve their communication skills. All competitors conveyed their research visually through a poster, and some chose to also present orally.


Fellows put their posters up on easels. Photo, Robin Brooks, eScience Institute

Fellows set up for the competition. Photo, Robin Brooks, eScience Institute

Eight fellows from the eScience Institute presented their work at this three-hour event, which was judged by local executives, innovators and directors. Research topics ranged the gamut, from neural decoding to astrophysical transients. Each oral presenter was given 90 seconds to present their pitch. Pitches were judged on how well the entrant presented the problem, conveyed the potential solution and explained the impact of the research.

People gather around posters on easels. Photo, Robin Brooks, eScience Institute

Some of the over thirty posters on display. Photo, Robin Brooks, eScience Institute

Michael Fire, a postdoctoral fellow with the Institute, won one of two overall awards for Best Commercialization Potential, with his pitch on “Fake Profile Identification – Making Online Social Networks Safer.”  Cecilia Noecker, an integrative graduate education and research trainee (IGERT), won first prize in the eScience Institute category with her pitch on “Integrating Omics Data to Identify Microbiome Mechanisms.” The second prize in the eScience category was awarded to eScience postdoctoral fellow Alexander Franks for his pitch on “Understanding the Metabolomics of
Neurodegenerative Disease.” Xiaofeng Meng, another postdoctoral fellow, won best poster for his project entitled “Listen to the Whisper from Earth.”