2018 UCLA Grad Slam

Marissa Stevens - UCLA Grad Slam Winner


Congratulations to Marissa Stevens, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, for winning the UCLA Grad Slam Finals on March 7th. Let’s cheer her on as she competes in the UC Grad Slam Competition on Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 to be held at the LinkedIn Headquarters in San Francisco, CA. The event will be hosted by UC President Janet Napolitano, and will be judged by a panel of leaders in industry, media, government and higher education. The first place winners from each of the 10 UC campuses will compete for the systemwide title and their share of $10,000 in prize money.

Tune in on Thursday, May 3rd at 10:30 am via live stream at: https://gradslam.universityofcalifornia.edu and don’t forget to cast your vote for our very own Marissa Stevens for the Audience Choice Award.


Graduate education is the heart of every great university. Graduate students come to UCLA to make creative contributions and research discoveries that advance human knowledge.

Grad Slam is a campus and UC-wide competition that showcases and awards the best 3-minute research talks by graduate students. Think TED Talks on steroids. The competition aims to strengthen graduate students’ presentation and networking skills, as well as their ability to distill down and articulate their research concisely and effectively to a non-specialist audience.

Grad Slam is comprised of preliminary and semi-final rounds, culminating in a final competition and reception on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 that will be broadcast live via an Internet feed.  There will also be information sessions, public speaking workshops and small group coaching sessions provided to students to help them prepare for the competition.


– Graduate Division – Robin L. Garrell, Dean, Graduate Division & Vice Provost, Graduate Education
– UCLA Student Fee Advisory Committee
– California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI)

Open the Grad Slam Outreach Flyer

2017 Grad Slam

2016 Grad Slam

2015 Grad Slam

Am I Eligible?
  • The competition is open to all currently registered and enrolled UCLA Master’s and doctoral graduate students.
  • Students must be registered and enrolled during Winter Quarter 2018 and be in good academic standing in order to participate in the Grad Slam and to be eligible to receive any prize.
  • Students on an official leave of absence, paying a filing fee, or with lapsed status in Winter 2018 are not eligible to compete.
  • Presentations must be on research. Projects, business plans and Applied Policy Projects (APP) are not eligible.
  • Students are only allowed to enter the competition individually. Joint presentations with other students are not permitted.
  • Students must meet the guiding principles of the Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Sponsored Research.
  • Students who competed in previous Grad Slams are eligible to enter the 2018 competition if they DID NOT win 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. The Audience Choice winner IS eligible to participate in Grad Slam again. However, if that person also placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd, they are not eligible.
Why Should I Enter Grad Slam?

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Grad Slam will strengthen your presentation skills, as well as your ability to distill down and articulate your research concisely and effectively to a non-specialist audience.

NETWORKING: Grad Slam provides an opportunity for you to directly meet and engage with valued UCLA associates (faculty, donors, alumni and elected officials).

MARKETING OPPORTUNITY: Grad Slam showcases the excellence, importance and relevance of your research!


5 Reasons To Sign Up For Grad SlamView Infographic

Grad Slam Student StoriesNeed more convincing why this is a great experience?
Read the Grad Slam Student Stories of past competitors.

Cindy LeeCindy Lee
English Learners and Oral Language Anxiety: An Approach Using Lego Storystarter

“I’ve always had a fear of public speaking, and get anxious and self-conscious just from standing in front of a room full of people. Despite this, I learned that it’s such an important skill to succeed in graduate school, and in life. When I saw the Grad Slam flyer, I thought to myself, “Hey! This couldn’t be that bad, since it has to be under 3-minutes!” Then I consulted with my academic advisor, who encouraged me to enter the competition. She believed that it would be interesting given that my research centers on children who are less comfortable speaking. One of the greatest things about Grad Slam is that they offered free workshops on presentation skills, visual designs, and small group coaching, which are wonderful resources not only for the competition, but also for future conferences and presentations! It was such a valuable experience and I look forward to bragging about it to my (future-if-any) grandkids.”

Nicholas MatiaszNicholas Matiasz
Building the Brain of a Robot Scientist

“I study medical informatics because, as an engineer, I value efficiency, and improving efficiency in medicine is sure to reduce suffering. To accelerate scientific discovery, I’m designing software that can help researchers to find all the valid interpretations of their evidence and to design experiments that would be most informative.I competed in Grad Slam because my work is only as good as my ability to communicate it. This competition helps you to distill your message for a general audience and to deliver that message with poise. Change happens when ideas spread, and that always requires a story—even in technical fields like mine. Grad Slam helped me to hone my story.”

Taylor CorcoranTaylor Corcoran
Anderson School of Management
HIV vs Hypertension: Optimizing Drug Approvals

“I chose to participate in Grad Slam after a stressful conference presentation in which I presented an early version of my grad slam research to a small room of professors and students. I was petrified and shaking throughout my entire talk, and I couldn’t wait to finish the presentation. Even though I was passionate about the work I was doing, I wasn’t able to convey it to others because of how nervous I was. I knew that I needed to overcome my fear of public speaking, which is why I chose to compete in Grad Slam — and it worked! By the time I reached the finals, I was actually excited to get on stage.”

Gary YeungGary Yeung
Electrical Engineering
Making Electronic Personal Assistants Listen to Children

“Scientific researchers like myself spend much of their time trying to understand problems. This is accompanied by a disconnect from society. While we might pat ourselves on the back for finding an interesting solution, we often ignore what the solution could imply for humanity. The reality is that science without an application is useless, and technology for the mere purpose of innovation is sometimes disastrous. Science can only make a meaningful impact if it is properly understood by the public. I entered the Grad Slam competition as it aligns with my beliefs that effective education and communication of science shapes research just as much as the science itself. I encourage others to participate in Grad Slam to reflect on how their research will affect society.”


How Do I Register for Grad Slam?


Registration for the 2018 competition is closed. Please check back next year for the 2019 competition!


Competition Schedule

View the 2018 UCLA Grad Slam Participation – Infographic.
Download the Grad Slam Prep Workshops & Competition Schedule.

Preliminary Rounds

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

  • Round A: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, 1357 Gonda Center – Schedule
  • Round B: 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm, 1357 Gonda Center – Schedule

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

  • Round C: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, Charles E. Young Research Library, Room 11360 – Schedule
  • Round D: 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm, Charles E. Young Research Library, Room 11360 – Schedule


Semi-Final Rounds

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

  • Round E: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, Charles E. Young Research Library, Room 11360 – Schedule

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

  • Round F: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Charles E. Young Research Library, Room 11360 – Schedule


Final Competition & Celebratory Reception

Wednesday, March 7, 2018
5:00 pm – 7:30 pm, UCLA California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) – Program  | Acknowledgements

Final Competition & Celebratory Reception Invitation | RSVP here | Webcast

University of California Grad Slam

Thursday, May 3, 2018

San Francisco, CA

The UCLA campus winner will travel to San Francisco to compete in the UC Grad Slam competition. Attendance is by invitation only but will be broadcast live via video stream. There will also be an online People’s Choice vote! So, please tune in.


Map & Directions

Grad Slam Venues Map


Driving Directions to UCLA
Locate UCLA by zip code (90095) or by street address (405 Hilgard Avenue). Call 310-825-4321 for recorded directions. UCLA’s main campus is bounded by Sunset Boulevard. on the north and Le Conte Avenue. on the south; the east border is Hilgard Avenue and the west border is Gayley Avenue.

Visitor parking at UCLA | Public Transit | Metro Trip Planner

Presentation Guidelines & Rules

UCLA’s Grad Slam challenges graduate students to present a compelling presentation of their research in just 3 minutes using language appropriate for a non-specialist audience.

  • Presentations must be on research. Projects, business plans and Applied Policy Projects (APP) are not eligible.
  • In cases of collaborative research, the presenter’s contribution to the project must be salient and clearly specified.
  • We strongly encourage Humanities and Social Sciences students to enter the competition.

Expected Participation

  1. Cancellations are strongly discouraged.
  2. On the day of your scheduled presentation, plan to arrive at the venue 10-15 minutes before the event start time to allow for check-in.
  3. Presentations during each round will be in random order.
  4. You must be present for the full duration of your scheduled round.

Presentations/Slides – GUIDELINES & LIMITATIONS

  1. Presenters are limited to a maximum of three (3) PowerPoint slides. No other formats (Prezi, PDFs, etc.) are acceptable.
  2. Slides are optional. If you choose NOT to use slides, please inform the organizers in writing in advance of your designated presentation so we can make a note of it.
  3. Please include a plain white fourth slide that includes 1) your presentation title, 2) your name, and 3) your area of study. We will import this information on to a standard Grad Slam cover slide for you and put at the front of your presentation.
  4. Use the 4:3 aspect ratio slide size for your presentation.
  5. No animations are allowed. This includes on-click animations that make information or images appear or disappear on a slide at your command or in a timed sequence. However, if there is an animation contained within an embedded video it may be used. Embedded audio and/or video clips will be allowed (clips may contain GIF animation).
  6. All work on the slides must be original to the student and cannot be generated by a professional.
  7. All presentations will be pre-loaded on the laptop on the day of the competition. You will be required to upload your PowerPoint presentations to a designated site the day prior to your scheduled competition. Specific upload instructions will be sent to each student presenter.
  8. Props are allowed, but need to be cleared by the Grad Slam program director, require minimal set-up and not produce a mess. Please email gdevents@grad.ucla.edu if you plan to use props.
  9. The room will be set-up with a laptop, projector, remote slide advancer, laser pointer and lavalier microphone. There may or may not be a podium in the room, depending on the venue. However, use of the podium is strongly discouraged.

Additional Tips

  • Grad Slam is about effective COMMUNICATION– engaging your audience in key aspect of your research that excite you, that tell the best story to people outside of your field.
  • Think about what sets your research apart from what has already been done already. What makes your work unique and valuable to your field?
  • Think about commonplace references you can make to relate to your audience and draw them into your subject. Humor is often a good tool, as are rhetorical questions.
  • The images you use on your slides should complement or illustrate what you are communicating verbally. Make sure they are relevant to your message.
  • Do not fill your slides with data, charts, or graphs that require a lot of explanation.
  • Do not fill your slides with so much content that the audience will be spending time trying to it all figure out what, rather than listening to what you are saying.
  • Stay away from acronyms unless they are well-known or you can quickly explain them. Same with jargon and complex terms. You will need to briefly define them.
  • Practice, practice, practice so you know all of your content by heart.
  • Slow down and relax. Don’t speak too fast. Clarity and being comfortable with your content is key.
  • Practice presenting in front of your roommate, friends or family members — people are are not greatly familiar with your topic/research. They are great sounding boards.
  • Have fun with this! Your work is valuable and YOU are the expert. You have a lot to teach the rest of us and we’re here to listen.


The audience may be comprised of graduate students, faculty, staff, campus leadership, alumni, donors, friends and family of the presenters, and members of the general public. We encourage all the students participating in the Grad Slam competition to invite colleagues, mentors, friends and family to your competition round.

An official photographer and/or videographer may also be present at some of the preliminary and semi-final rounds and at the final competition. As stated in the competition registration, any videotape footage, photographs, film and/or audio recordings will be used for UCLA archival and marketing purposes. No commercial use of the recordings are intended or will be authorized.

Members of the media may also be present and covering the competition.

The final competition on March 7th will be broadcast live online.


Judging panels for the preliminary and semi-final rounds will be comprised of faculty, academic deans, administrative staff, alumni, postdoctoral scholars,donors and elected officials. The judges will be selected to ensure disciplinary diversity and every effort will be made to avoid conflicts of interest.

Presenters will be judged on the clarity and delivery, and their ability to provide context and engage with a non-specialist audience helping others understand and appreciate their research.

Each judge will award up to 35 points based on the following criteria:

  1. Clarity
  2. Organization
  3. Delivery
  4. Visuals
  5. Appropriateness
  6. Intellectual Significance
  7. Engagement

Judging Scorecard

Timing of each presentation will commence from the moment the student begins the presentation. The presentation begins at the moment the student engages with the audience. Thus if s/he starts with a hand clap, a gesture, an audio or video clip or any other such engagement, prior to speaking, the clock begins at that time. If there is no such alternative engagement, the clock starts when the student begins speaking.

Should the presentation go longer than 3 minutes, points will be deducted from the final score, beginning with a 1 point deduction at 3:03, and 1 point being taken off for every 2 seconds the speaker continues after that:

3:03 – 3:04 1 point
3:05 – 3:06 2 points
3:07 – 3:08 3 points
3:09 – 3:10 4 points
3:11 – 3:15  5 points
Speakers will be cut off at 3:30 (15 point deduction)

Judges will not be allowed to ask any questions of the presenters following their presentation.


First, second and third prizes will be awarded during the final competition, as well as an Audience Choice award. If the Audience Choice awardee is the same as the first, second or third place winner, both awards will go to that person.

All Presenters

  1. A special 2018 Grad Slam gift

All Semi-Finalists (who do not advance to the final round)

  1. $50 gift card to UCLA Store

All Finalists

  1. Grad Slam Finalist certificate
  2. $100 credit on Bruincard/student account

1st Prize

  1. $3,000 stipend
  2. Dinner with Vice Provost & Dean Robin Garrell and other VIP leadership in April
  3. Paid, round-trip travel expenses to compete in the UC-wide Grad Slam competition on May 3, 2018 in San Francisco, California
  4. Opportunity to present at LA Nerd Night

2nd Prize

  1. $2,000 stipend
  2. Dinner with Vice Provost & Dean Robin Garrell and other VIP leadership in April
  3. Opportunity to present at LA Nerd Night

3rd Prize

  1. $1,000 stipend
  2. Dinner with Vice Provost & Dean Robin Garrell and other VIP leadership in April
  3. Opportunity to present at LA Nerd Night

Audience Choice Award

  1. $500 stipend
  2. Dinner with Vice Provost & Dean Robin Garrell and other VIP leadership in April
  3. Opportunity to present at LA Nerd Night

Students must be registered and enrolled during Winter Quarter 2018 and be in good academic standing in order to participate in the Grad Slam and to be eligible to receive any prize.

The prize money is a stipend and is considered income. It will be taxed and a student’s financial aid eligibility may be adjusted, as a result.

How Do I Prepare? Workshops & Resources

The Graduate Division is very pleased to provide the following prep workshops for Grad Slam entrants.  The workshops are open to all graduate students, as well.

Grad Slam Workshops

Wednesday, January 24, 2018  |  9:30 am – 11:30 am
UCLA Career Center, Room 200 – RSVP

You signed up for Grad Slam, but what’s next? Not quite sure where to start? Join us at our Grad Slam brainstorming session to:

-Choose / refine your presentation topic
-Start outlining your ideas
-Take a close look at the guidelines and rules
-Brainstorm with past Grad Slam finalists and fellow 2018 Grad Slammers

Grad Slam Alumni Facilitators: Former Grad Slam competitors and winners
Leslie Rith-Najarian, Psychology  (1st Place, 2017 – UCLA and UC)
Alexandra Polasko, Civil & Environmental Engineering (3rd Place, 2017)
Taylor Corcoran, Anderson School of Management (Audience Choice, 2017)
Gary Li, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (1st Place, 2016)

Sonya Gavin, Director of Operations & External Relations – Graduate Division
Latricia Rogers, Events Administrative Specialist – Graduate Division

Basic Presentation Skills: How to Resonate with Your AudiencePUBLIC SPEAKING SKILLS FOR ESL STUDENTS
Monday, January 29, 2018  |  2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
UCLA Career Center, Room 200 – RSVP

Wednesday, January 31, 2018  |  9:30 am – 11: 30 am
UCLA Career Center, Room 200 – RSVP

In this interactive workshop, multilingual students will practice translating their research, especially technical terms and concepts, into interesting, accessible knowledge for a general audience. We will also provide an overview of some of the more common stress and intonation patterns in English, with ample time for practice. Being able to use these patterns will help you emphasize your key points in speeches.

Liz Galvin LewLiz Galvin Lew
Lecturer/ESLPE Coordinator, UCLA Writing Programs

Liz Galvin is a lecturer in Writing Programs, where she teaches English as a Second Language and composition. In this capacity, she coaches international graduate students from all over campus on giving clear, engaging presentations of their research. She also works with native speakers on presentation skills in her writing for business and social policy class. Liz received her Ph. D. from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

Janet GoodwinJanet Goodwin
Associate Director, UCLA Writing Programs

Janet Goodwin, a lecturer in Writing Programs, received the UCLA Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. She specializes in the teaching of speaking and pronunciation and works primarily with international graduate students who are preparing to serve as teaching assistants. Her courses for international TAs (ESL 310, 311, 312, and 313) integrate her love of language, pedagogy, and cross-cultural communication.

Laila HualpaLaila Hualpa
Lecturer, UCLA Writing Programs

Laila Hualpa graduated from UCLA with a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics in 2012. Since then, she has been a full time lecturer for UCLA Writing Programs, teaching a variety of ESL composition and communication courses to international undergraduate and graduate students. Her classes focus on understanding different writing genres, acquisition of academic grammar & vocabulary, and in improving accents and public speaking skills. Dr. Hualpa also coordinates the ESL Summer Program and is actively working on plans to grow it.

Basic Presentation Skills: How to Resonate with Your Audience

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 |  2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
UCLA Career Center, Room 200 – RSVP 

Monday, February 5, 2018  |  5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Weyburn Terrace Village View Room – RSVP

This workshop will help you articulate your information and content in a manner that is well received by a “non-specialist” audience increasing retention. By the conclusion of the workshop you will improve your understanding of how adults prefer to take-in, process, and synthesize new knowledge allowing your presentation to resonate with a disparate audience. You will learn your own primary, secondary, and tertiary preferences for taking-in new information, thereby mitigating subjectivity in your delivery, ensuring your presentation is relevant to an audience outside your career field. These workshops are open to all UCLA graduate students.

Reg RandlesReginald (Reg) Randles, MOL, SHRM-PC
Lead Senior Organizational Development Specialist, UCLA Health Human Resources CORE

Reginald designs and develops workshops for skill improvement and facilitates talent and leadership development courses. He is a Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI®) Certified Practitioner, a qualified DiSC® Classic facilitator and the UCLA Health Sciences appointee to the University of California, Office of the President Talent Management Consortium. A published author, a seasoned keynote speaker and a Society of Human Resources Certified Professional, Reginald holds a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership from Chapman University, an Executive Certificate in Public and Non-Profit Leadership from Chapman University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Communication from California State University, Los Angeles.

Design Principles For Visual Presentations

Thursday, February 1, 2018 |  2:30 am – 4:30 pm
UCLA Career Center, Room 200 – RSVP

The content of any presentation is critical, however, if you want your audience to understand, retain, and recall your message, powerful and complimentary visual aids will help you achieve those goals. This interactive workshop will introduce the audience to universal design principles that can be applied when creating visual presentations using any platform, such as PowerPoint, Prezi, and Haiku Deck. In preparation for the 2018 Grad Slam competition, the audience will practice applying these principles within the context of the PowerPoint rules and examples from previous finalists will be shared.

Megan EigenbrodMegan Eigenbrod, MS
Training and Career Development Coordinator, UCLA Campus Human Resources

Megan Eigenbrod is the Training and Career Development Coordinator for UCLA Campus Human Resources. Megan fosters the professional development of UCLA administrative staff by providing training in leadership development, communication skills, and presentation design and delivery. Megan received her Master’s in Counseling and a Graduate Certificate in Career Counseling from California State University Northridge. She has presented at several conferences including the Strengths in Educational Leadership Conference hosted by the Gallup Organization.

Small Group Coaching Sessions
Participating students must come prepared with a draft of their presentations. These small group sessions will give students the opportunity to present before the group and receive feedback both from the coach and Grad Slam peers who will also be in attendance. These sessions are for Grad Slam participants only.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 |  5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
1237 Murphy Hall, Graduate Division Conference Room – RSVP
Lead Coach: Liz Galvin Lew
Grad Slam Alumni Peer Coaches: Teresa Nguyen, Psychology (2nd Place, 2017);
Alexandra Polasko, Civil & Environmental Engineering (3rd Place, 2017)
*This session is open only to students who have registered for the Grad Slam competition.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 |  10:30 am – 12:30 pm
2206 Murphy Hall – RSVP
Lead Coach: Reginald (Reg) Randles
Grad Slam Alumni Peer Coaches: David Gonzales, Psychology (Finalist, 2017); Gary Li, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (1st Place, 2016)
*This session is open only to students who have registered for the Grad Slam competition.

Friday, February 16, 2018 |  3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
1237 Murphy Hall, Graduate Division Conference Room – RSVP
Lead Coach: Megan Eigenbrod
Grad Slam Alumni Peer Coach: Leslie Rith-Najarian, Psychology  (1st Place, 2017 – UCLA and UC)
*This session is open only to students who have registered for the Grad Slam competition.

Liz Galvin LewLiz Galvin Lew
Lecturer/ESLPE Coordinator, UCLA Writing Programs

(For bio, see above)


Reg RandlesReginald (Reg) Randles, MOL, SHRM-PC
Lead Senior Organizational Development Specialist, UCLA Health Human Resources CORE

(For bio, see above)


Megan Eigenbrod

Megan Eigenbrod, MS
Training and Career Development Coordinator, UCLA Campus Human Resources

(For bio, see above)


Online Resources

How to Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo, article by Guy Kawasaki
Giving an Academic Talk by Jonathan Shewchuk, Associate Professor in Computer Science, University of California at Berkeley
Don’t Be Such a Scientist by Randy Olson
The And, But, and Therefore of Storytelling by Randy Olson
Giving Oral Presentations from English Communication for Scientists by Jean-luc Doumont (ed.), Nature (2010)
Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds
10 tips on how to make slides that communicate your idea, from TED’s in-house expert by Aaron Weyenberg

Top Ten Tips for Writing and Delivering Very Brief Speeches by Bill Cole, Founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants
TED Talks (up to 6 minutes in length): Brief talks on “ideas worth spreading.”
PhD Comics Two-Minute Thesis: PhD Comics challenged graduate students to explain their work in two minutes – the best have been turned into videos!
3 Minute Thesis Competition Winners: Winning presentations from a multi-university thesis competition in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the South Pacific.

The Secret Structure of Great Talks by Nancy Duarte at TEDxEast

Recommended Reading

Narrative Impact: Social and Cognitive Foundations, edited by Melanie C. Green, et al. (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates © 2002)
The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons (Perseus Publishing © 2001)
Tell Me a Story: Narrative and Intelligence, by Roger Schank (Northwestern University Press © 1990)
Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron (Ten Speed Press © 2012)

Language & Culture
Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (University of Chicago Press © 1980)
The Way We Talk Now, by Geoffrey Nunberg (Houghton Mifflin Company © 2001)
In Other Words: A Plea for Plain Speaking in Foundations, by Tony Proscio (Edna McConnel Clark Foundation © 2000)
When Words Fail, by Tony Proscio (Edna McConnel Clark Foundation © 2005)
Compassion Fatigue, by Susan Moeller (Routledge © 1999)
Tales of a New America, by Robert Reich (Times Books © 1987)

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Persons Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Steven Pinker (Penguin Books © 2015)
On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, by William Zinsser (30 Anv. Rep Ed. © 2006)
Telling True Stories, Edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call (Plume © 2007)
Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Non-Fiction, by Jack Hart (University of Chicago Press © 2012)

Competition Results – Updated 03/08/18

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 UCLA Grad Slam!

1st place ($3,000) – Marissa Stevens, Near Eastern Languages & Cultures – Social Identity from Ancient Egypt to Modern Times

2nd place ($2,000) – Isaac Bryan, Public Policy – The Price of Freedom

3rd place($1,000) – Joey Lao, Engineering Management – Hospital Acquired Infection: The Unknown Killer

Audience Choice ($500) – Zachary Ballard, Electrical Engineering – Making Microscopes That Learn

2018 Grad Slam Winners Group Shot
(left to right) Zachary Ballard, Marissa Stevens, Isaac Bryan, Joey Lao
2017 University of California Grad Slam Championship – Updated 5/8/17

University of California Grad Slam Championship

We are proud to announce that the 2017 UC Grad Slam Champion is this year’s UCLA Grad Slam Winner, Leslie Rith-Najarian.

Leslie Rith-Najarian
Leslie Rith-Najarian, UCLA and UC Grad Slam champion, 2017

Leslie’s research presentation on Making Mental Health More Engaging and Accessible, claimed the top prize in the UC wide competition that was held on Thursday, May 4th at the LinkedIn headquarters in San Francisco, California. Leslie is a Fourth Year Clinical Psychology doctoral student who puts her research into practice by enjoying rock climbing in her spare time to keep her mental health on point.

2017 UC Grad Slam Winner Leslie Rith-Najarian receiving her award from UC President Napolitanos

The system wide competition featured the first place winners from each of UC’s 10 campuses who delivered their 3-minute research talks. The event was hosted by UC President Janet Napolitano, who awarded Leslie with $6,000 in prize money and handed Vice Provost & Dean Robin Garrell the UC Grad Slam trophy plaque, which will reside in UCLA Graduate Division for the next 12 months. Second Place was awarded to John Felts, UC Santa Cruz, Third Place to Geoff Hollett, UC San Diego and the People’s Choice Award went to Leah Foltz, UC Santa Barbara. Watch the presentations of the awards here.

The Graduate Division and Grad Slam Team would like to extend our gratitude to all who supported and participated in the success of this year’s Grad Slam.

Read about the 2017 UC Grad Slam competition

2017 UC Grad Slam Presentations | 2016 UC Grad Slam Presentations

Photo & Video Galleries

2018 UCLA Grad Slam Final Competition – Photos
2018 UCLA Grad Slam Final Competition Presentations – Videos:  View All

  • Parinaz Abiri, Bioengineering and Medicine – Wireless Batteryless Miniature Cardiac Pacemaker
  • Eunjoo An, Nursing – Saving Lives with Mindfulness Practice
  • Viola Ardeni, Italian – What Are Fairy Tales?
  • Cody Aros, Molecular Biology – A Drug to Prevent Lung Cancer
  • Zachary Ballard, Electrical Engineering – Making Microscopes That Learn
  • Isaac Bryan, Public Policy – The Price of Freedom
  • Taylor Corcoran, Anderson School of Management – Eliminating Vaccine-Preventable Diseases with Tailored Immunization Programs
  • Joseph Friedman, Public Health and Medicine – The Shocking Social Patterns of Prescription Drug Use
  • Joey Lao, Engineering – Hospital Acquired Infection: The Unknown Killer
  • Priera Panescu, Chemistry – Novel Materials for Sustainable Food Security
  • Marissa Stevens, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures – Social Identity from Ancient Egypt to Modern Times

2017 Photos and Video Presentations

2016 Photos and Video Presentations


Publicity & Social Media
Sponsors and Campus Partners
Contact Us!

gdevents@grad.ucla.edu – please include “Grad Slam” in the subject line


Meet the Grad Slam Team

Sonya GavinSonya Gavin, Director of Operations & External Relations

“My favorite thing about Grad Slam is the opportunity to meet all the Grad Slam competitors and watch and work with them as they create outstanding presentations about their incredible research!  I also love seeing them supporting each other and getting to know fellow grad students outside of their disciplines.”

Latricia Rogers
Latricia Rogers, Events & Engagement Administrative Specialist

“I love Grad Slam because it’s great professional development for graduate students. And I get to hear about all the great research they’re doing here on campus.”

Jacqueline SueroJacqueline Suero, Operations Administrative Specialist

“It is quite rewarding to be involved in putting together Grad Slam this year. It is a truly empowering and inspiring experience to be able to provide a powerful platform where we can witness brilliant minds articulate and showcase their amazing research into a 3-minute TED talk style presentation.”

Brent ShowermanBrent Showerman, Operations Administrative Specialist

“What I like best about Grad Slam is seeing how much the students grow as presenters throughout the competition.”

Kevin TranKevin Tran, Operations & External Relations Assistant

Currently studying Business Economics and Entrepreneurship, Kevin is a third-year UCLA undergraduate student who is “really excited to hear all about the research that the Grad Slammers have in store!”

Sophia BautistaSofia Bautista, Operations & External Relations Assistant

“My favorite part of Grad Slam is listening to all the innovative research the students are engaging in. Each student is extremely passionate about their work and within three short minutes I am able to gain insight on how their research is positively impacting our world.”