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 held in the spring, followed by a research award competition held in the fall.

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 13, 2016. 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 are 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 submit brief proposals describing original research ideas. Winning proposals receive a research award to fund work on the project. Winners of the Discovery Challenge Research Award Competition also have the opportunity to present their work at the 2017 Discovery Challenge Research Symposium.

Research award applications will be due in fall 2016. 

2015 Winners

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
Discovery Challenge Research Award Competition
  • Mengyi Cao (bacteriology) and Matthew Stilwell (biochemistry) – A Microfluidic Device for Tracking Bacteria-Animal Symbioses
  • Mustafa Ozcam (food science) and Rachel Wilson (surgery) – Suppression of Intestinal Inflammation and Its Effect on Colorectal Cancer

View the past winners page to see more winning projects.