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FSU student wins national science communication contest

A Florida State graduate student took home first place from the American Chemical Society's Chem Champs 2015 competition for his engaging video explaining how polyelectrolytes work.

Hadi Fares, a doctoral student in Professor Joseph Schlenoff's lab, created a video that equated polyelectrolytes to Kobe Bryant. The video asks what is large, electric and something we can't live without.

Joking that 'no, the answer is not Bryant,' Fares went on to explain that the answer is polyelectrolytes or large repeating units of polymers that are found in everything from Gatorade, soaps, shampoos and even toasters. He also noted that Gatorade is from FSU's rival, the University of Florida.

"I wanted to have a good balance between cultural references — FSU versus UF and Kobe Bryant — and the science of polyelectrolytes used in thin films that we do in our lab," Fares said. "I have to say that I learned a lot about Youtube science videos during the making of the video and after I posted it. I also feel that I learned a lot throughout the competition about talking to a big audience and about science communication."

Hadi produced the video as part of a competition sponsored by the American Chemical Society. The competition consisted of four rounds. For the first round, participants had to make a three-minute video about their research. Round two required a video about a chemical element.

After making it through the second round, eight semifinalists flew to Washington D.C. for presentation and improvisational training, after which they presented to ACS staff who chose four finalists.