WARF Discovery Challenge

Announcing the third annual WARF Discovery Challenge!

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) announces the third edition of the Discovery Challenge, a research competition for UW–Madison graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from all departments and fields of study.

The Discovery Challenge, part of the WARF Student Ambassador Program, aims to promote cross-disciplinary research. It provides a forum for students to share research results, exchange ideas, improve their communication skills and seek new collaborators.

It began with the Discovery Challenge Seminar Series, a series of lectures and workshops focused on improving research and presentation skills. The seminar series was followed by the Discovery Challenge Research Symposium on May 21, 2014. Graduate students and postdoctoral researchers competed for a total of $2,000 in cash prizes at the symposium. Participants and those who attended the symposium were eligible to participate in Discovery Challenge Research Award Competition, which was held in the fall of 2014. Two awards of $7,500 each were made to research teams to advance their innovative and collaborative projects.

Discovery Challenge Seminar Series

Several informative sessions and workshops were offered in advance of the research symposium as part of the Discovery Challenge Series. We encourage anyone interested in learning more about developing a collaborative research program and preparing to present their research to watch the presentations from the sessions.

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.

A total of four cash prizes of $500 each were awarded at the research symposium on May 21, 2014. 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 were eligible to participate in the competition for a $7,500 research award.

Eligibility for the competition required presenters to work with collaborators outside their own discipline. Teams submitted a brief proposal describing an original research idea. Two proposals were selected to receive as much as $7,500 in grant money 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 2015 Discovery Challenge Research Symposium.
Awards were announced at a ceremony held on October 21, 2014.

Congratulations to the winners of the 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)

Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 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

Important Dates

Discovery Challenge Research Award Competition

  • Awards were announced on October 21.