Quick Pitch

Salvatore Skare, right, Computer Science, earned first place at the competition for his presentation on “Using a Recurrent Neural Network and Articulatory Synthesis to Accurately Model Speech Output.” Skare is pictured with Tony Hanson, of WiSys.

UWL students consider practical impact of their research while competing in WiSys Quick Pitch event

Emily Seib, Nuclear Medicine Technology, earned second place for her presentation on “Establishing a Need for a Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Pediatric Specialty.”

UW-La Crosse students from a variety of disciplines pitched their research projects and innovative ideas during WiSys Quick Pitch competition Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Student Union.

The competition aimed to encourage innovative and entrepreneurial thinking by inspiring students from all academic disciplines to consider the impact of their research and how their findings one day could benefit the local economy and/or society. UWL’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Creativity helped organize the event.

A total of 13 students participated in this year’s competition from a range of academic disciplines. Each had just three minutes to make their pitch to a panel of judges including Provost Betsy Morgan, College of Business Administration Dean Laura Milner and Associate Vice Chancellor Sandy Grunwald.

Kaisa Crawford-Taylor, Physics, earned the People’s Choice Award for her presentation on “Investigating Optimal Mirror Orbits for Darkside Illumination.” Crawford-Taylor is pictured with Scott Cooper, UWL professor and director of Undergraduate Research.

First place went to Salvatore Skare, Computer Science, and second place went to Emily Seib, Nuclear Medicine Technology. The peoples’ choice award — most votes from the audience — went to Kaisa Crawford-Taylor, Physics. In addition to cash prizes of $250 for first place and $125 for second place, the first place winner has the opportunity to present their pitch to an audience of more than 200 peers and compete in the state final during the 12th annual Wisconsin Science & Technology Symposium (WSTS) in summer 2019.

Skare is researching how to implement a novel way of modeling human speech in text-to-speech (TTS) programs. His method involves creating an accurate vocal tract simulator, and using artificial intelligence to translate text into the inputs for this simulator in real time.

“Preparing for the quick pitch competition helped my to reflect upon what the real-world impacts of my research are, as well as singling out the aspects of my work that are most important to convey to a wide audience,” he says.

Participants included:

  • Nancy Yang, Geography, presenting on “Revealing Sanist Space within a University Campus: Marginalization of Mad People at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse”
  • Nick Anton, Marketing, presenting on “Journey to Discover”
  • Salvatore Skare, Computer Science, presenting on “Using a Recurrent Neural Network and Articulatory Synthesis to Accurately Model Speech Output”
  • Monica Bertucci, Microbiology, presenting on “Exploiting Gluconobacter Oxydans for a One-Pot Synthesis of Vitamin C.”
  • Emily Seib, Nuclear Medicine Technology, presenting on “Establishing a Need for a Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Pediatric Specialty.”
  • Kaisa Crawford-Taylor, Physics, presenting on “Investigating Optimal Mirror Orbits for Darkside Illumination”
  • Sam Gowan, Biology, presenting on “Comparing Action Video Games and Mediation as Interventions for Improving Attention.”
  • Gage Stuttgen, Chemistry and Biochemistry, presenting on “Structural and Functional Effects of Altering the Nonpolar core of Hemolysin A.”
  • Alex Robbins, Chemistry, presenting on “Structural properties and enzymatic activity of dUTPase from Epstein-Barr Virus.
  • Cassidy McCann and Abby Bishop, Biomedical Science and Biology, presenting on “The Effects of the Ketogenic Diet on Body Composition and Performance in Training Women.”
  • Ellie Dahms, Biology, presenting on “Production of Optically Pure Acetoin using Gluconobacter Oxydans.”
  • Madi Giordano, Business Management and Marketing, presented on “Farmer’s Market”