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UW Graduate Students Win International Science Competition

November 15, 2010
Two graduate students working at computer
University of Wyoming graduate students Amit Padhi, standing, and Jorden Hayes recently won first place at the Society of Exploration Geophysicists International Challenge Bowl, defeating 11 other teams from across the world.

There are two collegiate world champions walking the University of Wyoming campus.

When it comes to geology and geosciences, Jorden Hayes and Amit Padhi have no equals.

The pair of UW graduate students recently won first place at the Society of Exploration Geophysicists International Challenge Bowl, defeating 11 other teams from across the world in a competition that tests students' breadth and depth of knowledge about the field of geoscience.

"Jorden and Amit have really done UW proud with this achievement," says Steve Holbrook, Hayes' adviser and a professor in the UW Department of Geology and Geophysics. "Their accomplishment shows that our geophysics students stand among the best in the world."

In the finals, Hayes and Padhi beat Meriem Grifi and Andrew Brenders of the University of Western Ontario in Canada to end a three-hour event that included teams from North America, South America, Europe and the Middle East. They won $1,000 for their performance.

Padhi's adviser, Subhashis Mallick, also a professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics, says the students' victory brings UW "among the top institutions for geosciences education."

The University of Houston and University of Oklahoma also represented the U.S. in the fourth annual competition, staged at the Hyatt Regency in Denver.

"Professors Mallick and Holbrook, by their encouragement, teaching, and advising, have been integral to this achievement," says Hayes, of Richland Center, Wis. "We were very confident and successful in the seismology portion of the competition in large part due to the coursework taught by the geophysics faculty.

Says Padhi, of Bhubaneswar, India, "I am elated that I could contribute to the fame of the prestigious geoscience department here at UW."

The support and teaching of UW faculty made it possible "to compete against other such formidable teams from across the world and finally win the world title," he adds.

To reach the finals, Hayes and Padhi won one of 11 regional events, beating teams from Stanford University and the Colorado School of Mines.

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