UC Grad Slam showcases research, tests students’ straight-talking skills

University of California graduate students will compete against their peers next week in a timed test of their ability to explain their complex research succinctly and in a way the general public can understand.

In its first year, UC Grad Slam challenges students to explain their work in just three minutes without using technical jargon. The May 4 event will bring together first-place winners from similar contests held over the past several months at each of UC’s 10 campuses, which drew hundreds of graduate student participants.

Contestants representing a range of academic disciplines will present research titled “Powering California with Food Waste,” “Stem Cells: How to Mend a Broken Heart,” “How to Talk to Mars,” and “Choosing Mates: How to Know Your Species,” among other projects. The top three winners will receive a share of $10,000 in prize money.

UC Grad Slam aims to provide graduate students with career-building skills such as communicating clearly about their work, while also giving the public a glimpse of UC’s groundbreaking research.

“Researchers need to know how to discuss complex ideas and explain their work to the general public,” said Pamela D. Jennings, director of graduate studies at UC's Office of the President, which is hosting the event. “This competition is a great way to help students sharpen their presentation skills and think creatively and strategically about how to connect an audience to their work.”

UC President Janet Napolitano will emcee the event, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf will welcome participants. The judges’ panel will include:

  • Jessica Aguirre, reporter and anchor with NBC Bay Area News
  • Aimée Dorr, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the UC Office of the President
  • Josh Green, partner and venture capitalist at Mohr Davidow Ventures
  • Eddie Island, member of the UC Board of Regents

The competition will take place from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 4 and will be live-streamed at www.universityofcalifornia.edu/grad-slam. The event will be held at the Oakland Marriott City Center Junior Ballroom, and in-person attendance is by invitation only. Members of the news media who wish to attend are asked to RSVP by Thursday, April 30, by calling (510) 987-9200 or emailing shelly.meron@ucop.edu.

For more information about UC Grad Slam and participating contestants:  http://www.ucop.edu/graduate-studies/initiatives-outreach/outreach/uc-grad-slam.html