UC graduate students condense years of research into three minutes on May 3

The University of California’s fourth annual Grad Slam — a lively showcase of graduate students competing to deliver the best three-minute talk about their research — will take place in San Francisco this Thursday, May 3, at 10:30 a.m. PDT.

After competing in a series of semifinal contests held on UC’s 10 campuses between February and May, first place winners from each campus will square off to capture the systemwide Grad Slam title and their share of $11,000 in prize money.

A panel of leaders in industry, media, government and higher education will judge the contest, which will be emceed by UC President Janet Napolitano. Participants will be scored based on the clarity and effectiveness of their presentation to a general audience.

This year’s finalists will explain their research on such diverse topics as harnessing biosensors to detect cancer at home, using sand to decontaminate storm water, analyzing social identity and material culture in ancient Egypt, preventing antibiotic-resistant infections, and more.

The competition will be livestreamed on UC’s Grad Slam website (, where audience members can vote online for their favorite competitor. First, second and third place winners will be chosen by the judges panel, in addition to the audience favorite.


· The 2018 Grad Slam judges panel:

o Guy Berger, economist at LinkedIn

o Neil Chase, executive editor, The Bay Area News Group

o Lark Park, UC Regent and senior policy advisor to Gov. Brown

o Karen Duderstadt, chair of the UC Coordinating Committee on Graduate Affairs and a professor of family health care nursing at UCSF

o Julia Avila, a senior at Gateway High School in San Francisco and co-president of the Gateway debate team

· UC President Janet Napolitano as the emcee

· Ten Grad Slam finalists – one graduate student representing each UC campus

What: Ten UC graduate students across a range of disciplines will compete to deliver the best jargon-free, three-minute talk about their research. Winners will receive a share of $11,000 in prize money.

When: Thursday, May 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. PDT.

Where: LinkedIn headquarters – 222 Second Street in San Francisco. The competition will also be livestreamed.

Why: UC’s Grad Slam program provides real-world job preparation by training students to distill and clearly articulate their research to a general audience, a critical skill for emerging scientists and professionals seeking to engage the public — and potential employers — in their work. All Grad Slam finalists participate in one-on-one coaching sessions and workshops to further hone their communication and public speaking skills.

* * *

The 2018 Grad Slam finale is livestreaming now at

All prizes will be announced at approximately 1:00 p.m. PDT – tune in!

Members of the public are invited to watch and vote online for an audience choice winner, who will receive a cash prize of $1,000. Voting will begin here once talks conclude:

The 2018 Grad Slam finalists representing each UC campus are:

Joseph Charbonnet, UC Berkeley – “A stormwater solution”

Tooka Zokaie, UC Davis: “At the mouth of health access”

Alana Ogata, UC Irvine: “The future of early detection: an at home cancer test”

Marissa Stevens, UCLA – “Near Eastern languages & cultures: social identity from ancient Egypt to modern times”

Portia Mira, UC Merced: “Reversing antibiotic resistance”

Nicholas Root, UC San Diego: “Language and synesthesia”

Yiqi Cao, UC San Francisco: “Don’t go breaking my heart… again”

Mengya Tao, UC Santa Barbara – “A safer world with fewer regrettable chemicals”

Kimberley Kanani Bitterwolf, UC Santa Cruz: “Decoding Earth’s erratic history”

Jessica Noll, UC Riverside – “A rapid blood test for stroke”

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