Grad Slam: Zooming Through Research

Ten Ph.D. students will take to Zoom this Thursday (April 8) to zoom through their research in the UC Davis Grad Slam.



Also, don’t miss TEDxUCDavis (where the talks are 18 miniutes long), this Saturday and Sunday, April 10-11. See separate story.

The annual competition, held at the campus and system levels, asks master’s and Ph.D. students in any discipline to summarize their research for a general audience in three minutes or less, covering the significance and fundamental points of their work, and to present it in a clear and interesting manner.

Grad Slam at UC Davis is organized by Graduate Studies and sponsored by Global Affairs, Public Scholarship and Engagement, and the Office of Research. Along with the campus title and a share of more than $5,000 in prize money, the winner also goes on to represent UC Davis in the systemwide Grad Slam, which has $14,000 in prizes.

Normally, the preliminary and final rounds are held in person. This year, because of the pandemic, the organizers called for video entries and received more than 25. Volunteer faculty and staff judges picked 10 finalists — all of them doctoral students — who will now compete via Zoom in front of a panel of external judges and audience.

Photos of 10 finalists with "Grad Slam" logo
The finalists, all doctoral students, from left: Top row — Vaneese Brown, Amelia Munson, Lindsay Cameron, Paul Kasemsap and Alea Skwara. Bottom row — Lizette Navarette, Spencer Dahl, Chelsea Kelland, Abby Niesen and Samantha Werth.


People who attend are sure to come away with new knowledge on a variety of topics. Here are some of the presentation titles: “Can What You Eat Protect Your Lungs From Air Pollution?” (Vaneese Brown, integrative pathobiology), “The Battery Roadblock to Our Electric Vehicle Future” (Spencer Dahl, chemical engineering), “Mission N Possible: Let There Be (Nutritious) Bread” (Paul Kasemsap, horticulture and agronomy) and “Time to Begin Adulting” (Lizette Navarette, educational leadership).

The other finalists come from neuroscience (Lindsay Cameron) and psychology (Alea Skwara), biomedical engineering (Abby Niesen), immunology (Chelsea Kelland), and animal behavior (Amelia Munson) and animal biology (Samantha Werth).

Prizes in the campus final: $2,500, first place; $1,500, second place; $750, third place; and $500, people’s choice.

Three finalists already received honors for the global scope of their research in hunger (Kasemsap), quality education (Navarette) and diversity (Skwara). Global Affairs designated them “Global Aggies” for addressing topics that fit in with the university’s “Global Education for All” initiative and/or deal with at least one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The Office of Public Scholarship and Engagement will award a $500 prize at the campus final.

The UC Grad Slam is scheduled for Friday, May 7, also as a virtual event. The livestream is scheduled to start at 9:45 a.m. with UC President Michael V. Drake as host.

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Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556,; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932,

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