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Pitch:90 expands

Student researchers in any STEM field at UD may participate in Pitch:90

Pitch:90, a science-oriented elevator pitch competition sponsored by the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN), is expanding to include graduate and undergraduate student researchers in any STEM field at the University of Delaware.

Participants in the event have 90 seconds to tell the audience and a panel of judges why their research matters in everyday language without the aid of props or slides. The top five pitchers are awarded monetary prizes, including a $500 grand prize.

In the past, eligibility for the competition has been limited to students whose research mentors were faculty affiliated with DENIN.

Audrey Gamble, a doctoral student in environmental soil chemistry and chair of the Pitch:90 planning committee, says that after the success of the event’s first two years, it was time to open up the competition to a wider audience.

According to Gamble, the expansion means that students conducting research in any science, technology, engineering or mathematics field (STEM) — including the health sciences, psychological and brain sciences or physics, for example — will now be eligible to compete.

“We were getting requests from students in fields outside the environmental sciences who wanted to participate,” she said. “We wanted to make that possible, but it means an extra layer of organization and planning in order to accommodate a greater number of contestants.”

In order to keep the showcase event to a manageable length for all concerned, Gamble explained that the planning committee opted to schedule preliminary rounds by college in mid-October. The top seven pitchers from each preliminary competition will then advance to the finals on Nov. 16.

“By holding the preliminaries by college, we’ll ensure that we have a good mix of disciplines represented at the finals,” she said.

A full explanation of the event, the application process and the schedule of preliminary rounds are posted on the Pitch:90 webpage. Students must apply via an online form by 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 10. They will then be assigned a time for their preliminary round, which will take place during the week of Oct. 17.

Gamble says one of the best ways students can prepare for the competition is to watch the videos of previous competitions available on YouTube.

“That way you’ll get a good idea of what worked and what didn’t and the level of technicality to aim for,” she said. “Contestants should keep in mind that the judges at the finals have ranged from a high school student to a stay-at-home mom to a state senator, and you want your pitch to be interesting and understandable to all of them.”

Contestants who are selected in the preliminary rounds will also have opportunities to receive peer and professional coaching to help refine their pitches and their delivery before the finals.

The Pitch:90 planning committee includes representatives from UD colleges offering STEM degrees. Contestants may contact their representative with questions: Joshua Sanchez (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources), Julia Guimond (College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment), Alicia Broderick (College of Engineering), Chris Arble (College of Arts and Sciences), and Audrey Gamble (College of Health Sciences).