Lydia Rachbauer, a postdoctoral researcher at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and the Biosciences Area’s Biological Systems and Engineering Division was selected for first place and people’s choice prizes in the inaugural Bay Area Research SLAM competition on October 28, 2021. Rachbauer delighted the audience and judges with her three-minute story on utilizing the microbes found in fish guts to convert seaweed into sustainable biofuels.
Rachbauer, Ryan Kingsbury from Energy Technologies, and Rajiv Ramanujam Prabhakar from Energy Sciences represented Berkeley Lab against the top-3 finalists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and SLAC National Laboratory. Sarah Sandholtz from Livermore’s Biosciences & Biotechnology division placed second and Berkeley Lab’s Ryan Kingsbury placed third.
As winner of the Bay Area Research SLAM, Lydia’s name will be engraved on the official SLAM trophy which will be displayed at Berkeley Lab until the next SLAM. In future competitions, the trophy will be engraved with the names of the subsequent winners and will be displayed at their laboratory.
The 2021 Bay Area Research SLAM was judged by Kim Budil – Lab Director, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Chi-Chang Kao – Lab Director, SLAC National Lab, Amber Mace – Executive Director, California Council on Science & Technology, Susan Seestrom – Advanced Science and Technology Associate Labs Director and Chief Research Officer, Sandia National Lab, and Mike Witherell – Lab Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The contest was hosted by UC Berkeley public policy professor Janet Napolitano, who also previously served as the president of the University of California and the US Secretary of Homeland Security.