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Preliminary Heats Judges

Judges are educated professionals in a variety of positions in academia, corporate, government, and non-profit industries.

Preliminary Heats

Preliminary Heats Judges


Dr. Melissa Grady is an associate professor of choral music education at The University of Kansas. She received her Ph.D. in Choral Pedagogy from The University of Kansas and both her previous degrees in Music Education from Wichita State University. During her eleven-year public school teaching career, Dr. Grady taught at all levels of music education; elementary general music, middle school choir, and high school choir. At KU, Dr. Grady teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in choral music education and vocal pedagogy and conducts the University Singers. An active researcher, Dr. Grady’s research interests include effects of conducting gestures on choral sound, choral warm-ups, female adolescent changing voices, choir spacing, and performance movement.


Cori Gilbert Wallace serves as the Director of Communications and Community Relations for the City of Lawrence, KS. Cori developed her skills as a national director for the March of Dimes Foundation, the first marketing director for the Rose Brooks Center, the largest DV agency in the Midwest, 4 fraternal organizations, a 126 year-old social service agency with four core programs, and now, an unmistakeably vibrant City of 100,000. She is a national speech and debate judge in her free time, and volunteers as a Board member for her alma mater and Flourish Furniture Bank.

Cori is a 1999 graduate of William Woods University with a B.S. in English Communications - Media. An avid volunteer, advocate for belonging, diversity and inclusion efforts in the corporate and non-profit community, and past international board member for Delta Gamma Fraternity, she lives in Lawrence, KS with her partner, two incredible high school students and three dogs.


Dr. Krech is the Senior Research Engineer at DirectSync Surgical, a startup pioneering a new generation of human powered smart implants. She earned her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Kansas as a Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellow. Dr. Krech is also working as the Project Manager for Educational Products at Continuum Educational Technologies, PBC, creating a suite of entrepreneurial education products and comprehensive curriculum to train academic researchers to commercialize discoveries. Dr. Krech joined the faculty at KU as an adjunct lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering Department to teach material science, utilizing her industry experience to help connect foundational material science with engineering design for undergraduate engineering students. She is also an alumna of New Mexico State University, where she received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. There she started the Aggie Innovation Space as part of the University Innovation Fellows program, a student-run maker space and think tank to connect students across campus to promote creative thinking and multi-disciplinary entrepreneurship opportunities among undergraduate students. Outside the office, Ember is passionate about travel, spending time outdoors with family and friends, community outreach and re-imagining STEM and engineering education.

Preliminary Heats Judges


Alyssa Appelman, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas. Her research focuses on news accuracy and credibility. Through a media psychology framework, she empirically tests the effects of journalistic practices. She has conducted projects on the effects and significance of grammatical errors, stylistic errors and factual errors in news articles. She also examines message effects and information processing in digital and social media.


Ted Harris earned his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Kansas as a Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellow. Ted currently works as an aquatic ecologist at the Kansas Biological Survey who specializes in aquatic pollution. Ted's research primarily focuses on harmful blue-green algae blooms, which represent a visual manifestation of aquatic pollution. Ted also serves on the steering committee for the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON); GLEON is a global organization focused on understanding how climate change will impact global surface water quality.


Originally from Wichita, Kansas, Nicole has made Lawrence her home since 2002 earning her BS in Environmental Studies from KU in 2007, followed by an MA and PhD in the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science. Her research focused on popular geopolitics and geolegal arrangements of extraterritorially housed military personnel and crimes of sexual violence involving civilians. Nicole has served KU in many roles, most recently as the Program Manager for Graduate Professional Development and now the Director of Professional Development & Communications in the Office of Graduate Studies. She is currently working on numerous projects supporting professional development and career advancement for graduate students across KU including the PhD Career Pathways Project and GradMaps.