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Alumnus Wins Research Slam Competition

Thej Tumkur (Ph.D. ’15) won first place in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 2019 Postdoc Research Slam! Tumkur earned his doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering from Norfolk State. Dr. Mikhail Noginov served as his adviser. Dr. Tumkur beat 12 competitors for the first-place win, which has a cash prize of $4,000.

The research slam, in its fourth year at the laboratory located in Livermore, California, is designed to help postdocs improve their science communication and presentation skills, according to a news release. Participants give a three-minute, three-slide research presentation that is judged on intellectual significance, individual contribution to the project, clarity, delivery, visuals and engagement. Each speaker walks on stage to music of their choice.

Tumkur’s winning presentation was titled, “Put a *Bessel* Ring on It: Shaping Light and the Future of Laser Materials Processing.” According to the release, Dr. Tumkur is developing technology that shapes the beams of lasers used in metal additive manufacturing so that they produce parts more rapidly and with better mechanical strength. Shaping a beam to form a ring of laser light around the central beam improves the property of metal processed in this way, the release said. Tumkur said that preparing for the competition was a fun and enriching experience, according to the release, and that he will use elements of what he learned to communicate his research more effectively.