QSB’s Portia Mira Wins GradSlam!, Advances to Finals

April 19, 2018

After a fierce round of competition during last week’s UC Merced GradSlam! finals, the third time was the charm for quantitative and systems biology (QSB) student Portia Mira, who emerged as the campus’s new champion.

For her success, Mira earned a $5,000 grand prize and the honor of representing UC Merced at the systemwide GradSlam! contest on May 3 at LinkedIn headquarters in San Francisco.

Runners-up were fourth-year mechanical engineering student Michelle Len, who placed second, and second-year QSB student Craig Ennis, who placed third.

Mira’s research involves antibiotic resistance, a growing public and global health problem. Twice as many people die from antibiotic-resistant infections than HIV. If this trend continues, more people will die from antibiotic-resistant infections than from cancer by 2050.

It’s also an expensive challenge, she said. The United States spends more than $20 billion annually in medical costs associated with antibiotic-resistant infections.

“We can’t really depend on the development of new antibiotics because bacteria will just become resistant to them,” she said.

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