Lydia Rachbauer, a postdoctoral researcher at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in the Biosciences Area’s Biological Systems and Engineering Division was selected for first place and people’s choice prizes in the inaugural Bay Area Research SLAM competition on October 28. Rachbauer delighted the audience and judges with her three-minute story on utilizing the microbes found in fish guts to convert seaweed into sustainable biofuels. Her name will be engraved on the official SLAM trophy, which will be displayed at Berkeley Lab until the next SLAM. In future competitions, the trophy will be engraved with the names of the subsequent winners and will be displayed at their laboratory.
In addition to Rachbauer, Ryan Kingsbury from Energy Technologies and Rajiv Ramanujam Prabhakar from Energy Sciences represented Berkeley Lab against the top three finalists from Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, and SLAC National Laboratories. Sarah Sandholtz from Livermore’s Biosciences and Biotechnology division placed second and Kingsbury placed third.
The event was judged by: Lawrence Livermore National Lab Director Kim Budil; SLAC National Lab Director Chi-Chang Kao; Executive Director of the California Council on Science & Technology Amber Mace; Sandia National Lab Advanced Science and Technology Associate Labs Director and Chief Research Officer Susan Seestrom, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Director Mike Witherell. The competition was hosted by UC Berkeley public policy professor Janet Napolitano, who also previously served as President of the University of California and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.