Three University of Cincinnati students and three faculty members faced off American Idol-style during a research-based competition Tuesday.
Hosted by Elissa Yancey, associate professor of journalism, Science Idol stemmed from a class — Innovation in Science Communication — and focused on bridging the gap between scientists and journalists.
Students Elizabeth Kopras, Shilpa Shah and Doug Disbennett, as well as faculty members David Nash, professor of geology, Erin Haynes, assistant professor of environmental health, and Brooke Crowley, assistant professor of geology and anthropology took the stage throughout the night to present research from their fields of expertise in an effort to win the Science Idol trophy.
Some participants wore costumes, including a medieval knight and Elvis Presley getup.
One contestant performed an interpretive tap dance.
“When they told me that Dr. Nash was coming as Elvis, I knew I had to one up him,” said Elizabeth Kopras, junior research associate of epidemiology.
Lane Hart, former student body president, emceed the event.
Greg Hand, university spokesperson, Brenda Hunda, adjunct instructor, and Amy Townsend-Smalls, assistant professor of geology and geography, judged the competition.
The judges selected the winner based on communication, entertainment and familiarity with the subject.
Some topics discussed throughout the night included methane emissions, the effects of exposure to manganese and a new mini-computer called Raspberry Pi.
“The message of this is that science is cool, science is fun and research is important for all of us to understand and know about,” Yancey said. “It’s not just for people in labs. This stuff impacts our lives on a daily basis and there’s way too much of a disconnect between what scientists do and what the average citizen understands. So we really want to bridge that gap.”
Kopras won the competition with her presentation on epidemiology and her medieval knight costume she wore to emphasize diets of the past.
“I’m very excited and honored to have won, especially against the incredible competition,” Kopras said.
The inaugural Science Idol was a huge success, Yancey said, and she hopes to make it an annual event.