Sarangi named winner in Science Slam: Postdoc Edition

Sarangi named winner in Science Slam: Postdoc Edition Thursday, November 30, 2017

Debalin Sarangi
Debalin Sarangi presents at the 2017 Science Slam: Postdoc Edition. Photo courtesy of Murtaza Nalwala | Civil Engineering Major

Debalin Sarangi, an agronomy postdoctoral research associate, was one of three winners in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s second annual Science Slam: Postdoc Edition held Nov. 8. The event was part of the university’s 2017 Fall Research Fair.

Postdoctoral researchers had five-minutes and three slides to creatively explain their research at Nebraska in an accessible and entertaining way that would allow a general, public audience to easily understand and enjoy the information. The three winning speeches were decided by the audience.

Sarangi’s presentation was titled “Out of the Swamp: A Successful Invasion-Story of a Weed.” Sarangi talked about his research in Nebraska soybean fields and how common waterhemp, a weed historically found in a riparian habitat in the mid-south United States, has become a nightmare for the agricultural commodity growers in the Midwest.

Why would a postdoctoral researcher participate in something so outside their comfort zone? Sarangi said his top reasons included the opportunity to share his research with a cross-department group in an easy and understandable way and to meet and listen to postdocs from different departments and research areas. And finally, winners would receive a cash award and travel grant which would look good on his curriculum vitae.

According to Sarangi, preparing for the science slam was not easy and was a totally different experience.

“Even though it was just a five-minute talk for a general audience, making this presentation was much harder than preparing a conference or extension presentation where people knew about common waterhemp, tillage and herbicide-resistance,” Sarangi said. “I had to present a topic in a really short time, using just three PowerPoint slides. Initially, it was tough for me to find a suitable topic and the proper language for a general audience.”

In the end, Sarangi found the experience fun.

“The Science Slam was a great opportunity for me to improve my public-speaking skills,” he said. “I want to become an assistant professor in agronomy and weed science and this experience will help me achieve this goal.”

Sarangi works with Amit Jhala, assistant professor of agronomy and horticulture and a Nebraska Extension weed specialist.

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