About 200 people attended the third - and first on US soil - Trilateral Science Slam in the ballroom of the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson on July 11th. They were enthralled by and rooted for six spirited “slammers” from Germany, Russia and the USA:
Lorenz Adlung, a German computational biologist, broke the obesity pandemic down to a cellular level, further “breaking it down” by rapping the conclusion with his research findings. Suffice it to say he brought down the house!
Danila Barskiy, a Russian physical chemist, started off the evening by making an analogy of hyperpolarization, a new method being used to make better quality MRI, to perfectly conducting an orchestra, thereby uniting his two great passions: science and music.
Enno Esser, a German chemical engineer, used his considerable charm to convince us that we are well on the way to developing technology that will allow us to continue using diesel engines for those instances where renewables will likely be unable to fulfil our needs.
Konstantin Prokhorov, a Russian mining researcher - for whom this event served not only as a first visit to the US but also his first trip outside of Russia - did an onstage demonstration of techniques used to extract infinitesimal amounts of gold from ore, blowing the bottom off a glass bottle before a captivated audience.
Kirby Parnell, an American marine biologist and Fulbright alumna, came on stage dressed in a seal onesie. Need we say more? Her devotion to working with marine mammals and desire to know more about their many mysterious behaviors, finding novel ways to use devices not typically associated with marine research, was palpable and won over the entire audience.
Rui Wang, an American bio-engineer, simultaneously intrigued and grossed us out with tales both mythological and real about the powers of the rather simple-looking freshwater cnidarian Hydra. She is optimistic that it will one day show us the way to regenerating a human limb or organ.
And the winner is…
… Rui Wang! With her genuine fascination (which, by the way, carried over to the Saguaro cacti she saw in Tucson) and quirky, deadpan humor, Rui struck just the right balance between the fantastic and the scientific to win over the audience. It was a tight competition, as audience applause varied only slightly for each of the superbly done slams, but Rui nudged out the others with her brand of earnest, clearly articulated, no-nonsense science and her straight-faced, somewhat irreverent, at times morbid amusement, winning over a crowd half-composed of physicists, chemists and astronomers - Cottrell and Fulbright-Cottrell Scholars attending the Cottrell Scholar Conference at the resort. And in doing so secured a first American victory for this third trilateral science slam!
A special thanks to Dr. Kathrin Steinbrenner, Deputy Consul General from Germany's consulate in Los Angeles, for attending and so graciously engaging with guests and slammers alike.
The slam was hosted by Fulbright Germany, the German-Russian Forum e.V. and the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), and was produced by policult, as part of the Year of German-American Friendship (Wunderbar Together).
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