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 brought 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 were awarded at the research symposium on April 9, 2015. Posters were 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.

Research award applications are due September 25. To apply, please fill out the online application form.

2014-15 Winners

2015 Discovery Challenge Research Symposium
  • Darryl Wesener – A Protein of the Innate Human Immune System Recognizes Carbohydrates Utilized Exclusively by Microbes
  • Ritodhi Chakraborty – Climate and Agricultural Change at the Third Pole: The Impact of Change in Precipitation on Small Farmer Agriculture in the Himalayas
  • Ramakrishnan Durairajan – Internet Atlas: A Geographic Database of the Physical Internet
  • Jiehao Guan – Development of a Chemically Modified Gold Nanoparticle-Based Optical Sensor for Highly Sensitive and Selective Detection of Heavy Metal Contamination in Water Samples
2014 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)
View a presentation about applying for a Discovery Challenge Research Award.

*To be eligible for the award, at least one member of the team must have attended the Discovery Challenge Research Symposium on April 9 or one of the networking events on June 25, July 23 or August 26.