People and Community Research

Graduate students excel in inaugural ‘Op-ed Challenge’

The “Op-ed Challenge,” held during the fall semester and sponsored by the Graduate School, gave students an opportunity to hone critical writing skills with a focus on research endeavors.
Op-ed Challenge

The essays touched upon a host of heady topics ranging from battling the climate crisis and obesity during the pandemic to culture, diversity, and how to help children suffering from autism. 

These research-centric articles were submitted by graduate students who opted to participate in the inaugural “Op-ed Challenge” geared toward showcasing the varied and impactful research conducted by graduate students at the University of Miami. The challenge also helped students to improve critical writing skills that will aid them in their career development—whether for grant writing or explaining their work to a general audience. 

Spearheaded and sponsored by the Graduate School, the “Op-ed Challenge” was open to all graduate students and held last fall. Students received mentoring from media experts at the School of Communication, and entries were judged by editorial page editors from the Miami Herald, the Tampa Bay Times, and The Conversation—a nonprofit, independent news organization that syndicates articles written by academic experts. 

An op-ed, so named because of its positioning opposite the editorial page in a newspaper, is considered a concise opinion piece ranging in length from 600 to 800 words and conveys a clear point of view in an authoritative voice. 

Seven schools and colleges were represented in the competition, which received 21 entries. View the entries through the links below. 

Award winners: 

First Place: Grace Snyder, Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science: Stem cell therapy: The answer for coral reefs. 

Second Place (tie): Nikolaos Polizos, College of Arts and Sciences: Maggots for brains: Why animal models are the key to our memories. 

Second Place (tie): Mariana Viso, College of Engineering: The chips that could replace animal testing. 

Third Place: Joseph Bonner, School of Education and Human Development: Childhood obesity and COVID-19: We aren’t doing enough. 

Other entries, in alphabetical order:

Khulud Almutairi, School of Nursing and Health Studies: I support Iranian women and wear my hijab. 

Tericka Cesar, School of Nursing and Health Studies: National Thanksgiving intervention: Food for thought. 

Juan Esquivel, College of Arts and Sciences: A handbook for Florida parents of LGBTQ+ youth. 

Liza Khmara, Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science: The clock is ticking for US biodiversity action. 

Marina McLerran, Frost School of Music: Conducting ourselves on the podium. 

Nkosi Muse, Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science: The City of Miami is not prepared for hurricanes, but the people need it to be. 

Adeline Nagle, Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science: Harnessing Earth’s natural cycles to reverse climate change

Nicolas Nicola, College of Arts and Sciences: Why misinformation isn’t a unique problem. 

Victoria Nieto, Frost School of Music: In the name of cultural preservation. 

Deborah Perez, School of Education and Human Development: Predominantly white institution’s responses to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Eric Randolph, Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science: How to teach an old dog new tricks. 

Yasukiyo Sugimoto, College of Arts and Sciences: Pedagogy of life: An educational lesson on true cultural diversity. 

Theoni Varoudaki, College of Arts and Sciences: Are demographics getting in the way of pain management? 

Matthew Watts, College of Arts and Sciences: Using virtual reality to teach ethics. 

Hilary Yip, Frost School of Music: How we can help children with autism socialize using their natural rhythmic abilities. 

Fang Yuan, Frost School of Music: Synesthetic approach in the classical guitar performance for enhanced creativity and multisensory experiences. 

Hui Zhong, Miller School of Medicine: Fe-S cluster biogenesis regulates mitochondrial translation.