WARF Discovery Challenge

The Discovery Challenge, part of the WARF Student Ambassador Program, is a two-part research competition for UW–Madison graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from all departments and fields of study. It aims to promote cross-disciplinary research and provides a forum for students to share research results, exchange ideas, improve their communication skills and seek new collaborators. It consists of a research symposium on April 9, followed by a research award competition held in fall 2015.

Discovery Challenge Research Symposium

The campus-wide research symposium brings together graduate students and postdocs in the sciences, engineering, arts, humanities and beyond to present their existing work and participate in an open exchange of ideas with a view to identifying potential cross-disciplinary collaborators.

Several cash prizes will be awarded at the research symposium on April 9, 2015. Posters will be judged by an interdisciplinary panel of faculty, students and UW–Madison and WARF staff according to the following criteria:

  • How well the presentation describes the project and the need for collaboration to advance its goals
  • The potential of the project to lead to significant advances in the field and/or significant impact on society
  • Innovation and creativity

Discovery Challenge Research Award Competition

This competition is for young scientists at UW–Madison who aim to carry out these cross-disciplinary collaborations with the goal of advancing each party's research projects. All research symposium participants and presenters will be eligible to participate in the competition for a research award.

Eligibility for the competition requires presenters to work with collaborators outside their own discipline. After the research symposium, teams will submit a brief proposal describing an original research idea. Winning proposals will receive a research award to fund work on the project. Winners of the Discovery Challenge Research Award Competition also will have the opportunity to present their work at the 2016 Discovery Challenge Research Symposium.

2014 Winners

Discovery Challenge Research Symposium
  • Szymon Ciesielski – PIM1 dependent proteolysis of the scaffold protein Isu in regulation of Fe-S cluster biogenesis
  • Gagan Gupta – Harnessing resources in the dark silicon era
  • Robert R. Lindner – Autonomous Gaussian decomposition: An algorithm for interpreting the world's spectral big data
  • Shuting Zhang – Conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to furan-based chemicals using molten salt hydrates in biphasic system

Discovery Challenge Research Award Competition
  • Bingming Chen (pharmacy), Ross W. Cheloha (chemistry) and Niyanta Kumar (pharmacy)
  • Ashok Sundramoorthy (biological systems engineering) and Gerald Brady (materials science engineering)