By Patricia Marroquin for the UCSB Graduate Division
When UCSB Linguistics Ph.D. student Daniel Hieber heard his name called as the second-place finisher in the inaugural UC Grad Slam in Oakland on Monday, he was ecstatic. But “at the same time,” he said, “it felt a bit like icing on the cake” as he stepped onto the stage to accept a $3,000 check and shake the hand of UC President Janet Napolitano. “I was already so happy to have represented my department, my school, and my field of study in the competition and done as well as I had,” Hieber said. “So it was all just fun and celebration from there!”
Hieber was among the 10 champions, one from each of the University of California campuses, to present in the UC Grad Slam, a competition for the best three-minute research talk for a general audience by a graduate student from the UC system. In UCSB’s competition, Hieber had triumphed through a preliminary round, a semifinal round, and the Finals to become UC Santa Barbara’s Champion. The UC-wide event was held in Oakland, and live-streamed at this website, which now features a video recording.
Hieber’s talk, “Renaissance on the Bayou: Reviving the Chitimacha Language,” focused on his work in helping to revive a language in the Louisiana bayou, Chitimacha, whose last native speakers died in the 1930s. He has reconstructed the language, even creating a Rosetta Stone audiotape that tribal members now listen to in their cars. Hieber was the only competitor in the UC Grad Slam not in a science, technology, or engineering field.
After all the students had presented, and took a quick break for lunch, the results were revealed. The judges – who included a venture capitalist, the mayor of Oakland, and a UC Board of Regents member – selected Alex Phan of UC San Diego for the third-place award (a $1,000 prize); Hieber for second place; and Ashley Fong of UC Irvine as the recipient of the inaugural “Slammy” and a $6,000 cash prize. (The list of all the speakers and their talk titles may be found here.) You may access all the video talks at this UC webpage, and Hieber’s video presentation begins here.