Using a 5-gallon bucket, a water bottle, and a dinosaur bone, Virginia Tech graduate students Susan Chen, Madeline “Maddy” Grupper, and Brenen Wynd took top honors at the third Nutshell Games, held Oct. 27 at the Moss Arts Center.

Hosted by Virginia Tech’s Center for Communicating Science and held in conjunction with the Virginia Tech Science Festival, the Nutshell Games featured 29 graduate students, each of whom had 90 seconds to present their work in a clear, engaging, and entertaining manner without slides, charts, or posters. 

Chen, a doctoral student in human nutrition, foods, and exercise, won with her talk, “Eat Your Trash: Why Food Waste Matters.” Grupper, a graduate student in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, discussed public trust of drinking water in her presentation, “What Are We Drinking?” Wynd, a doctoral student in the Department of Geosciences, focused on mass extinctions in his talk, "Almost All My Friends Are Dead.”

Each of the three received a $500 prize. All of the contestants will receive a professional-quality video recording of their talk.

With an emphasis on communicating to nonscientists, a panel of six people from both on and off campus judged the contest:

·         Honzik Schenk, a seventh-grader at Blacksburg Middle School.

·         Shernita Lee, director of the Graduate School Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion.

·         Michael Sutphin, Blacksburg Town Council member.

·         Christina Martin, the science, technology, engineering, and math coordinator for Giles County Public Schools.

·         Larry Hawkins, biology teacher at Blacksburg High School.

·         Ruth Waalkes, associate provost for the arts at Virginia Tech.

Presenters this year included graduate students from a wide range of research fields, including biomedical engineering, plant and environmental sciences, industrial and systems engineering, geosciences, biology, psychology, nutrition, rhetoric, and writing.

You can watch all of the presentations on the center’s YouTube channel.

Written by Carolyn J. Kroehler