Senator Jackson Confirmed as Judge for UCSB Grad Slam 2014 Finals on April 18; Public Is Invited to Attend 3-Minute Talk Competition

California State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson will be among the judges for UC Santa Barbara Graduate Division’s Grad Slam Finals on Friday afternoon at Corwin Pavilion, it was confirmed today. The public is invited to attend.

The Grad Slam is part of the 2nd annual Graduate Student Showcase, a two-week series of events that celebrates UC Santa Barbara’s exceptional graduate students. The events range from performances, presentations, and poster sessions to tours, exhibitions, and open houses – all of which highlight the work of the university’s graduate students.

The Showcase’s signature event is the national award-winning Grad Slam, a campus-wide competition for the best three-minute talk about research or other big ideas by a graduate student.

With the advent of TedX, the three-minute talk is rapidly catching on as an ideal format for the communication of graduate research to a general audience. Longer than an elevator talk, but shorter than a conference presentation, in three minutes students must encapsulate the central points of their research and convey them in a clear, direct, and interesting manner. Students gain experience constructing a tight professional presentation and delivering it with confidence.  They also have the opportunity to practice sharing their ideas with a wider audience, an important professional skill for communicating with employers, granting agencies, investors, CEOs, reporters, policymakers, and others.

In its inaugural year last year, the UCSB Grad Slam was honored with the 2013 Western Association of Graduate Schools (WAGS) and Educational Testing Service (ETS) Award for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education. This year, UC San Diego adopted UCSB’s idea, initiating its own Grad Slam competition.

Nearly 70 grad students competed in 10 preliminary Grad Slam rounds held last week at UC Santa Barbara. The student presenters came from nearly 40 disciplines across the campus, ranging from Music to Materials; Physics to Film and Media Studies; Communication to Computer Science; and Sociology to Spanish and Portuguese. The talks were entertaining, informative, enlightening, and impressive. Some of the more amusing titles: “Let Them Eat Ketchup” (History); “Kidney Punch” (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology); “How Pizza Explains Yoga” (Religious Studies); “I Have the Foggiest Idea” (Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology); and “What Makes Grumpy Cat More Popular Than the Higgs Boson?”  (Dynamical Neuroscience).

After two semifinal rounds this week, 10 students will advance to the Finals on Friday.

“The Grad Slam Final Round is the cream of the crop,” said UCSB Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti, “a window into the groundbreaking research of our very best students, presented in a fun, accessible, and exciting way.” The Grad Slam grand prize winner will receive a $2,500 research award; and two runners-up will receive $1,000 each.

In addition to Senator Jackson, who represents state Senate District 19 (Santa Barbara County and a portion of Ventura County), other judges for the Finals are: Denise Stephens, University Librarian; Michael Witherell, Vice Chancellor for Research; Sarah Cline, Professor Emerita of History; John Weimann, Professor Emeritus of Communication; and Gene Lucas, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and former Executive Vice Chancellor.

The public is invited to attend both the two Semifinal Grad Slam rounds and the Grad Slam Finals. The Semifinals are on Tuesday, April 15, in the Student Resource Building (SRB) Multipurpose Room and Wednesday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to noon in Engineering Science Building (ESB) 1001.

The Grad Slam Finals will be held on Friday, April 18, in Corwin Pavilion, and will be followed by the Graduate Student Showcase Reception in Friendship Court outside the pavilion.

A complete schedule of events is posted on the Graduate Post’s Graduate Student Showcase page. Read recaps of the preliminary rounds on the GradPost . For more information, contact Robert Hamm, Coordinator of Graduate Student Professional Development, at 805-893-2671 or

— Patricia Marroquin is the communications director for the UCSB Graduate Division and writes for The Graduate Post.


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