2020 UCLA Grad Slam


An-Chieh Feng, Molecular Biology, 99% Useless?

Congratulations to An-Chieh Feng, Molecular Biology, for winning the UCLA Grad Slam Finals on March 5. Let’s cheer her on as she competes in the UC Grad Slam Competition on Friday, May 8, 2020 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 Friday, May 8 at 10:30 am via live stream at: https://gradslam.universityofcalifornia.edu and don’t forget to cast your vote for our very own An-Chieh Feng for the Audience Choice Award.

Robin L. Garrell
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean, Graduate Division
Professor of Chemistry


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Overview, Eligibility, and Registration


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: 3 slides in 3 minutes. 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 that was held on Thursday, March 5, 2020.  A recorded livestream video of the event can be found here.  There were information sessions, public speaking workshops and small group coaching sessions that were offered to students to help them prepare for the competition.

Special Thanks To Our Sponsors

– Graduate Division – Robin L. Garrell, Dean, Graduate Division & Vice Provost for Graduate Education
– UCLA Student Fee Advisory Committee
– Startup UCLA
– Dr. Jerome Greenberg and Randi Greenberg
– Van Schultz and Susan Schultz
– Anne-Marie Spataru and Alex Spataru
– Charlie Steinmetz
– California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI)

Open the Grad Slam Outreach Flyer

2019 Grad Slam | 2018 Grad Slam | 2017 Grad Slam | 2016 Grad Slam2015 Grad Slam

Am I Eligible?

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 2020 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 2020 are not eligible to compete.
  • 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 2020 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?

5 Reasons to Sign Up View Infographic

Who Participated in 2020? View the 2020 UCLA Grad Slam Participation – Infographic

Need a little inspiration? Watch these videos of the 2019 finals:

  • Karime Parodi Ambel, Spanish – Bias Against Women Victims Of Sexual Assault In The Chilean Legal System
  • Eunjoo AnNursing – Shouldn’t We All Be Practicing Mindfulness?
  • Allison Daly, Molecular Biology – Your Immune System, Your Best Friend Or Worst Enemy?
  • Joseph Friedman, Medicine – Ending Medical Segregation In LA
  • Aleksandr GorinImmunology – Designing An HIV Vaccine
  • Xiaofei LinBiochemistry – Decrypting The Immune System Code
  • Nyasha Maforo, Biomedical Physics – At The Heart Of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
  • Samantha Morse, English – A Dreadful History
  • Alexander Sercel, Molecular Biology – Recharging The Batteries Of Life
  • Allyson Terry, Pharmacology – Securing The Health Of Organ Transplant Recipients
  • Emily Towner, Social Sciences and Psychology – Curiosity And Learning: Curiosity Did Not Kill The Cat
How Do I Register for Grad Slam?

Registration is now closed. 

Grad Slam Stories

Grad Slam Student StoriesNeed more convincing to enter the competition?
Read the Grad Slam stories of past competitors.

Marissa StevensMarissa Stevens
1st Place – 2018 Grad Slam
Near Eastern Languages & Cultures
Social Identity from Ancient Egypt to Modern Times

“With just three minutes, Grad Slam challenged me to delve into the core of my academic interests and present a distillation of my research in a way that was relatable to a wide audience.”

Xiaofei LinXiaofei Lin
Decrypting The Immune System

“Grad Slam was a great experience that not only helped me build science communication skills, but also connected me with other incredible student researchers outside my field who remain fantastic friends today.”

Samantha MorseSamantha Morse
A Dreadful History

“Grad Slam gave me the skills and confidence to quickly share my research with anyone. This ability has especially come in handy at conferences when I’m introducing myself to other scholars and want to make a meaningful impression.”

Allyson TerryAllyson Terry
Securing The Health Of Organ Transplant Recipients

“Participating in both the Grad Slam preparation workshops and the competition not only opened my eyes to all of the interesting research outside of my field that is being done across the UCLA campus, but improved the way I think about, organize, present, and receive feedback about my own presentations. Grad Slam definitely helped me improve how I communicate my research to people both inside and outside of my field. If you will have to talk about your research at some point in your career (which I’m sure you will), I highly recommend participating in Grad Slam!”

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.”



Grad Slam Preparation and Competition

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.

  • 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. Last minute 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 16:9 aspect ratio slide size for your presentation.
  5. Embedded audio and/or video clips (including but not limited to .gif, .avi, .mp4, .mp3, and .wmv file types) are not permitted unless they are deemed indispensable to the communication of the research topic.
  6. No PowerPoint animation effects are allowed (use of PowerPoint animation tab not allowed).
  7. Slides must be created by the student and not generated by a professional. Use of PowerPoint templates is allowed.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 5th will be broadcast live online.
How Do I Prepare? Workshops

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | 12 pm – 1 pm | Moore Hall, 3340 | 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 2020 Grad Slam participants

Grad Slam Alumni Facilitators: Former Grad Slam competitors and winners

Staff facilitators:
Sonya Gavin, Director of Operations & External Relations – Graduate Division
Samantha Tagoe, Events Administrative Specialist – Graduate Division

Basic Presentation Skills: How to Resonate with Your Audience

Friday, January 31, 2020 | 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Moore Hall, Room 3320 | RSVP
Open to all graduate students

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.

Crafting a Compelling PresentationCRAFTING A COMPELLING PRESENTATION
Thursday, February 6, 2020  |  12 pm – 1 pm
Career Center Rooms A & B | RSVP
Open to all graduate students

As a graduate student, you’ve made countless sacrifices in order to pursue your dream of making an impact in your field of study. But to truly make an impact, you need support and a following of people who care about the work you are doing. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to craft a compelling presentation that inspires your audience and promotes your research in an authentic way. The principles you’ll learn can be applied in any setting but the activities will be tailored to include Grad Slam best practices.

Megan Eigenbrod

Megan 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.

Design Principles For Visual Presentations

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 |  12 pm – 1 pm
Young Hall, Room 2033 | RSVP
Open to all graduate students

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 2019 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.

Kelsey DuffKelsey Duff
Training and Career Development Coordinator, UCLA Campus Human Resources

Kelsey Duff is a Training and Career Development Coordinator for UCLA Campus Human Resources. She coordinates the Staff Enrichment program where she offers career coaching, facilitates workshops on presentation skills, design and visual thinking, and more. Kelsey is UCLA graduate and a career UCLA employee with a background in academic advising, student support and professional development for others in student support positions. In 2018, she managed the recruitment and selection of conference presentations for the UC Academic Advising Conference, where she also presented for the third time.

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 registered Grad Slam participants only.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020 |  5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
1237 Murphy Hall, Graduate Division Conference Room | RSVP

Wednesday, February 12, 2020 |  5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
1237 Murphy Hall, Graduate Division Conference Room | RSVP

Thursday, February 13, 2020 |  5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
1237 Murphy Hall, Graduate Division Conference Room | RSVP

Grad Slam Alumni Facilitators: Former Grad Slam competitors and winners


Other Preparation Resources

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
Making the Most of Your Three Minutes for 3MT: The Three Minute Thesis by Simon Clews, Director, Writing Centre, University of Melbourne
10 Hints for Improving Presentations for the Three Minute Thesis Competition by Danielle Fischer, Charles Darwin University
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 Schedule

Preliminary Rounds

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

  • Round A: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, Career Center Conference Rooms A & B (3rd floor)
  • Round B: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Young Hall, Room 2033

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

  • Round C:  10:00 am – 12:30 pm, Boyer 159
  • Round D: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, Young Hall, Room 2033


Semi-Final Rounds

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

  • Round E:  10:00 am – 12:30 pm, Young Hall, Room 2033
  • Round F:  2:00 pm – 4:30 pm, Young Hall, Room 2033


Final Competition & Celebratory Reception

Thursday, March 5, 2020
5:00 pm – 7:30 pm, UCLA California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) 

Final Competition & Celebratory Reception Invitation | RSVP here  |  2020 Webcast/2020 Live Stream


University of California Grad Slam

Friday, May 8, 2020

San Francisco, CA

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


Competition Results – Updated 3/6/2020
Grad Slam 2020 Winners
Kanav Saraf (3rd place), Cassandra Meyer (2nd place), An-Chieh Feng (1st place), and Wadie Chalgham (Audience Choice)

Congratulations to the winners of the 2020 UCLA Grad Slam!

1st Place ($5,000) – An-Chieh Feng, Molecular Biology / Immunity, Microbes, and Molecular Pathogenesis – 99% Useless?

2nd Place ($3,000) – Cassandra Meyer, Neuroscience – Taming the Neurodegenerative Monster in Multiple Sclerosis

3rd Place ($2,000) – Kanav Saraf, Bioengineering – Helping your Doctor Catch Silent Heart Disease

Audience Choice ($1,000) – Wadie Chalgham, Mechanical Engineering – Smart Pipeline Leak Detection and Response System


2020 Grad Slam Finalists 

  • Caitlin Aamodt, Neuroscience – How Songbirds can Help Us Find New Treatments for Autism
  • Wadie Chalgham, Mechanical Engineering – Smart Pipeline Leak Detection and Response System
  • An-Chieh Feng, Molecular Biology / Immunity, Microbes, and Molecular Pathogenesis – 99% Useless?
  • Lucia Ichino, Molecular Biology – Unlocking the DNA
  • Meng-Wei Ko, Oral Biology and Medicine – Natural Killer Cells: Triumph Over Cancer
  • Cassandra Meyer, Neuroscience – Taming the Neurodegenerative Monster in Multiple Sclerosis
  • Kanav Saraf, Bioengineering – Helping your Doctor Catch Silent Heart Disease
  • Karthik Sarma, Bioengineering – Federated Learning for Medical Imaging
  • David Shia, Molecular Biology – Outmaneuvering Drug Resistant Cancer: A Game of Chess
  • Gil Torten, Neuroscience – Preventing Blindness on a Cellular Level


2020 Grad Slam Semi-Finalists (Round E)

  • Caitlin Aamodt, Neuroscience – How Songbirds can Help Us Find New Treatments for Autism
  • An-Chieh Feng, Molecular Biology / Immunity, Microbes, and Molecular Pathogenesis – 99% Useless?
  • Jacob Green, History – Recreational Drug Use, Anesthesia, and Mysticism in the 19th Century
  • Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology – Mystery of Parading Shrimp and Opportunities for Sustainable Ecotourism
  • Lucia Ichino, Molecular Biology – Unlocking the DNA
  • Meng-Wei Ko, Oral Biology and Medicine – Natural Killer Cells: Triumph Over Cancer
  • Ying Lin, Molecular Biology / Cell and Developmental Biology – How to Build a Brain? A Lesson from Fruit Fly
  • Cassandra Meyer, Neuroscience – Taming the Neurodegenerative Monster in Multiple Sclerosis
  • Jennifer Ngo, Biochemistry, Molecular, and Structural Biology – Tuning the Metabolic Engine
  • David Shia, Molecular Biology – Outmaneuvering Drug Resistant Cancer: A Game of Chess
  • Akash Deep Singh, Electrical and Computer Engineering – I always feel like somebody’s watching me!

2020 Grad Slam Semi-Finalists (Round F)

  • Nicholas Bernier, Chemistry and Biochemistry – Treating Cancer with a Remote-Controlled Trojan Horse
  • Wadie Chalgham, Mechanical Engineering – Smart Gas Pipeline Leak Detection and Response System
  • Vivien Enriquez, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology – From Birds to Bacteria
  • Alexander Johnson, Electrical and Computer Engineering – Learning Representation in Speech
  • Ariadna Jou, Economics – The Dynamic Effects of Welfare on Health Outcomes
  • Hanako Justice, Public Health / Social Welfare – Arts for Sexual Health Education: Breaking Ground for Youth with Autism
  • Pradnya Parulekar, Anderson School of Business – Wise Earthcare
  • Kanav Saraf, Bioengineering – Helping your Doctor Catch Silent Heart Disease
  • Karthik Sarma, Bioengineering – Federated Learning for Medical Imaging
  • Gil Torten, Neuroscience – Preventing Blindness on a Cellular Level


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.  Great effort is made to select judges that represent diversity in discipline, as well.

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 Score Sheet

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.

1st Prize

      • $5,000 stipend
      • Dinner with Vice Provost & Dean Robin Garrell and other VIP leadership in April
      • Paid, round-trip travel expenses to compete in the UC-wide Grad Slam competition on May 8, 2020 in San Francisco, California

2nd Prize

      • $3,000 stipend
      • Dinner with Vice Provost & Dean Robin Garrell and other VIP leadership in April

3rd Prize

      • $2,000 stipend
      • Dinner with Vice Provost & Dean Robin Garrell and other VIP leadership in April

Audience Choice Award

      • $1,000 stipend
      • Dinner with Vice Provost & Dean Robin Garrell and other VIP leadership in April

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

  • $250 stipend + $50 gift card to the UCLA Store

All Other Final Round Runners-up

  • Grad Slam Finalist certificate
  • $500 stipend

All Presenters

  • 2020 Grad Slam gift(s)

Students must be registered and enrolled during Winter Quarter 2020 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.

University of California Grad Slam Championship

The system wide competition will feature the first place winners from each of UC’s 10 campuses who delivered their 3-minute research talks.


Photos/Videos, Social Media & Sponsors

Photo & Video Galleries

2020 UCLA Grad Slam Final Competition – Photo Gallery
2020 UCLA Grad Slam Final Competition – Video Presentations 

  • Karthik Sarma, Medicine – Federated Learning for Medical Imaging
  • Caitlin AamodtNeuroscience – How Songbirds Can Help Us Find New Treatments for Autism
  • Gil Torten, Neuroscience – Preventing Blindness on a Cellular Level
  • Lucia Ichino, Molecular Biology – Unlocking the DNA
  • Cassandra MeyerNeuroscience – Taming the Neurodegenerative Monster in Multiple Sclerosis
  • An-Chieh FengMolecular Biology Institute/Immunity, Microbes, and Molecular Pathogenesis – 99% Useless?
  • Mengwei Ko, Oral Biology and Medicine – Natural Killer Cells:  Triumph Over Cancer
  • David Shia, Molecular Biology – Outmaneuvering Drug Resistant Cancer:  A Game of Chess
  • Wadie Chalgham, Mechanical Engineering – Smart Pipeline Leak Detection and Response System
  • Kanav Saraf, Bioengineering – Helping Your Doctor Catch Silent Heart Disease

2019 Video Presentations

2018 Video Presentations

2017 Photos and Video Presentations

2016 Photos and Video Presentations


Publicity & Social Media
Sponsors and Campus Partners


Contact Us

Map & Directions

Grad Slam Venues Map

Grad Slam Venues
Download the venue map where all the Grad Slam workshops and competition rounds will be held.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

Contact Us!

Questions? Email gdevents@grad.ucla.edu – please include “Grad Slam” in the subject line or call 310.206.6086

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.”

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.”

Aliana ClarkAliana Clark, Operations Administrative Specialist

“I m looking forward to watching all of the Grad Slam competitors flourish during this process! I am eager to learn more about their areas of research and the impact that it carries.”

Samantha TagoeSamantha Tagoe, Events & Engagement Administrative Specialist

“I’m excited to watch these intelligent and talented students showcase their expertise in various areas of research. It’s always wonderful to witness the growth of students as they work diligently to succeed and meet their goals.”