Chicago Materials Research Center

Savannah Gowen wins Science Slam Competition involving all 19 MRSEC Centers

Dec 2, 2022

The next time you sink your teeth into a soft slice of bread, think about the material training that went into making that bread. Material training is one of many approaches to designing new materials and involves taking a material and applying a repeated training protocol that modifies small-scale structures in the material. The result is the same material that you started with but with new properties. When it comes to that slice of bread, repeatedly kneading the dough changes its gluten structure and results in a stronger and more elastic version of itself — and also makes for a truly delicious materials science experiment.

That science experiment was one of 19 at the first-ever MRSEC Science Slam, recently held online. Each Science Slam presentation was five minutes long and tailored to a lay audience in the form of live experiments, songs, and poetry.

“Science tells a story,” says Savannah Gowen, a graduate student at the University of Chicago and part of the winning team that presented their research on material training in a video titled, “How to Train Your Gluten.” “This event paid tribute to the fact that you don’t need a textbook to teach or learn something. We can learn through a song or a laugh, and even through hobbies like baking bread.”

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