Williamson native and NETL Research Associate Kristyn Johnson-May recently took the top prize at the national Ignite Off! Competition for her dynamic Ignite Talk — a fast-paced presentation that uses 20 picture-centric slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds.
She previously advanced from the local round at NETL and went on to compete against the other finalists from Argonne National Laboratory and Oakridge National Laboratory, winning for a presentation on her research investigating rotating detonation engines.
Johnson-May is part of the Professional Internship Program, and her mentor is Don Ferguson.
“I was very happy to represent NETL in the final round of the competition,” Johnson-May said. “The entire experience, both presenting my own work in such a unique format as well as learning about the work of other researchers, was very interesting and beyond rewarding. To win the competition is truly an honor that would not have been attainable without the support of our pressure gain combustion team.”
Johnson-May was one of two NETL finalists that went on to the national round. The other NETL finalist, Tanner Stelmach also had a strong presentation, which was focused on chemical looping combustion.
“The beauty of scientific discovery lies in its power to challenge the status quo, to affect how we live our lives in new and innovative ways,” Stelmach said. “This is only made possible by sharing science engagingly, uplifting people and inspiring passion in those around us. The Ignite Off competition was a strong exercise of these skills and one that I will value throughout my career and life.”
Kirk Gerdes, Ph.D., chief of staff for NETL’s Science & Technology Strategic Plans & Programs, served as a one of the judges for the final national competition.
“It was refreshing to experience the talent of all the competitors – each was a worthy submission,” Gerdes said. “Kristyn’s presentation was truly superior, her technical content and engaging delivery were a winning combination. She represented NETL with skill and poise, and we should all be proud.”
Johnson-May and Stelmach were chosen as finalists from a total of 11 research associates at NETL. Their journey began with an exclusive online learning course provided by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education.
“It was such a pleasure to see these bright minds improving over the weeks,” Patricia Adkins-Coliane, NETL Internship Program Coordinator, said. “Because they were being judged on their ability to communicate their research, the skills they learn will be useful for so much more in their careers.”
Johnson-May is the daughter of Ronnie and Leasha Johnson of Williamson and was the valedictorian in the class of 2014 at Mingo Central High School.
Johnson-May recently received her bachelor’s degree in the mechanical and aerospace engineering program at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University.
Since completing her undergraduate courses, she decided to stay in the academia world and work more on the research side of engineering and was accepted into the doctoral program at WVU.