First all-ORISE Ignite Off Competition names ORNL intern as its winner

Amish Mishra, an ORISE participant in the National Science Foundation's Mathematical Sciences Graduate Internship (NSF-MSGI) Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

October, 5, 2022  

Amish Mishra (pictured right), an ORISE participant in the National Science Foundation's Mathematical Sciences Graduate Internship (NSF-MSGI) Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), won the 2022 Ignite Off! competition. An annual competition hosted by ORISE, the Ignite Off challenges contestants to showcase their talents by presenting in exactly five minutes their research projects using 20 picture-centric slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. Originally a live competition among DOE national laboratory programs, ORISE opened the 2022 competition to all ORISE research participation program participants at all sponsoring agencies. 

Mishra, a graduate student from Florida Atlantic University, was honored for his talk titled "Shaping Data with Quantum Computers." Placing second was Beatriz Oliva, a participant with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for her talk, "Lead Facility Proximate Schools."

The winners were announced during a national viewing event on August. 24, 2022, during which Ignite Talk videos of the 10 finalists were shown. The audience voted in a live poll for their favorite presentation, and it was Tammy Tan, a participant with the EPA mentored by William Wheeler, who earned "fan favorite" honors for her talk, "Satellite-Based Air Pollution Monitoring."

DOE ORNL Site Office Deputy Manager Michele Branton served as a special guest speaker and one of the national judges. She congratulated the winners and praised the efforts of all who participated. 

“The Ignite Off Competition emphasizes the importance of sharing and communicating the results of scientific research. It is really thrilling to see a group of enthusiastic early researchers rising to the challenge—not only of research but of their ability to communicate results,” said Branton. “I commend all the contestants for your many hours of research and preparation leading to your submission.”

To promote and facilitate the competition, the ORISE STEM Workforce Development team hosted two live information sessions (April and June 2022). The team also conducted an awareness campaign that included targeted email and social media efforts designed not only to bring awareness to the contest but also to the ORISE Learn training modules that were available to all program participants. Combined, these efforts resulted in more than 140 started applications, with approximately 100 completed by the deadline. ORISE then hosted five live practice sessions for the selected contestants where they received feedback directly from the individuals who would later serve as the semi-final’s judges. Judges for the finals included a range of experience levels from across the ORISE community, including DOE and agency sponsors as well as ORISE staff.

"Being able to concisely present is a skill I'm working to build, and I am so grateful to have been able to build this skill through IGNITE. And I would recommend it to any of my colleagues. Thanks!"
-Semi-Finalist, 2022 ORISE Ignite Off Competition

The other finalists in the event included: 

  • Sara Daley — "Metabolism of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Rainbow Trout," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; mentored by Mark Tapper
  • Kevin Menear — "Sulfur Thermal Energy Storage," U.S. Department of Energy; mentored by Dmitry Duplyakin, Ph.D.
  • Karana Wickens — "Role of Serosurveillance in Trachoma Elimination," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; mentored by Diana Martin, Ph.D.
  • Lilian Hislop — "Breeding Better Blueberries," U.S. Department of Agriculture; mentored by Claire Luby, Ph.D., and Michael Hardigan, Ph.D.
  • Sophia Sukkestad — "Prevalence of Hepatitis Delta among HBV/HIV Coinfected Patients in the United States," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; mentored by Tonya Hayden Ph.D., and Lilia Ganova-Raeva, Ph.D.
  • Remy Goldberg — "Hydraulic Fracturing and Produced Water," U.S. Department of Energy; mentored by Lauren Burrows, Ph.D.
  • David McChesney — "Manufacturing Deficiencies in Liquid Drug Products, Data Extraction and Analytics," U.S. Food and Drug Administration; mentored by Allison Aldridge, Ph.D., and Vidya Pai, Ph.D.

A video recording of the 2022 Ignite Off Final National Viewing Event is available online. Learn more about the ORISE Ignite Off Competition.

Media Contacts

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The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asset that is dedicated to enabling critical scientific, research, and health initiatives of the department and its laboratory system by providing world class expertise in STEM workforce development, scientific and technical reviews, and the evaluation of radiation exposure and environmental contamination.

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