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Congratulations to Kelsi Rutledge, Biology – The Fluid Dynamics of Smell: A Stingray’s Perspective), for winning 1st Place at the 2022 UCLA Grad Slam Finals on March 9.
Let’s cheer Kelsi on as she competes in the UC Grad Slam Competition on Friday, May 6, 2022 at 11 am at the LinkedIn Headquarters in San Francisco, CA. Watch the competition via live stream at: https://gradslam.universityofcalifornia.edu. Don’t forget to cast your vote for our very own Kelsi Rutledge for the Audience Choice Award. The event will be hosted by UC President Michael Drake and will be judged by a panel of leaders in the 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.
Huge congratulations as well to Elizabeth Burnette, Neuroscience – What E.Coli Endotoxin Can Tell Us About Addiction (2nd Place), Mary Jo Madda, Education – The Science Behind Bad PowerPoints: Why No One Remembers What You Said (3rd Place), and Paul Vander, Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology – Suspended Animation as Medicine – Science or Fiction? (Audience Choice).
Thank you to all of our finalists and participants for sharing and presenting their graduate research.
Susan L. Ettner
Dean of Graduate Education, UCLA Graduate Division
Professor in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research
Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management
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 presentations by graduate students. Think TED Talks on steroids. The competition aims to strengthen the important career development skill of articulating graduate research concisely and effectively to a non-specialist audience. It also highlights the excellence, importance and relevance of UCLA graduate students and their research.
This year’s Grad Slam was comprised of a qualifying round via video submissions, culminating in a final competition and celebratory reception held on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 at the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center. The event was live-streamed. Students can get help preparing their presentations through a series of workshops that were offered from January 24, 2022. See How Do I Prepare – Workshops tab below for more details.
First, second, and third place winners in the UCLA competition received fellowships in the amounts of $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000 respectively, and an Audience Choice award in the amount of $1,000. The campus winner will advance to a University of California competition that will be held in San Francisco on Friday, May 6, 2022 and will compete against the 9 other UC campus winners.
Special Thanks To Our Sponsors
– Graduate Division – Susan L. Ettner, Dean, Graduate Education
– Startup UCLA
– UCLA Store
– Dr. Jerome Greenberg and Randi Greenberg
– Charlie Steinmetz
Open the Grad Slam Outreach Flyer
5 Reasons to Sign Up View Infographic
Who Participated in 2022? View the 2022 UCLA Grad Slam Participation – Infographic
Need a little inspiration? Watch these videos from the 2020 UCLA Grad Slam Finals:
• Caitlin Aamodt, Neuroscience – How Songbirds can Help Us Find New Treatments for Autism
• Wadie Chalgham, Mechanical Engineering – Smart Pipeline Leak Detection and Response System (Audience Choice)
• An-Chieh Feng, Molecular Biology / Immunity, Microbes, and Molecular Pathogenesis – 99% Useless? (1st Place)
• 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 (2nd Place)
• Kanav Saraf, Bioengineering – Helping your Doctor Catch Silent Heart Disease (3rd Place)
• 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
Registration is now closed for the 2022 UCLA Grad Slam.
Need more convincing to enter the competition?
Read the Grad Slam stories of past competitors.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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!”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Third Place Winner and Audience Choice Award, 2015
Using Lasers to Illuminate Acetylcholine’s Role in Fear Memory
“Grad Slam was such a valuable exercise; it’s easy to underplay our own contributions when we stare at them for years, but explaining them to an audience of enthusiastic listeners reminded me why I’d worked so hard. Also – it was fun!”
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.
*If you need equipment or space to record your video presentation, click on the “Video Recording Resources” tab for available campus resources and information.
*Last-minute cancellations are strongly discouraged. Please inform the Grad Slam team (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you no longer wish to participate.
Presentations/Slides – GUIDELINES & LIMITATIONS
Qualifying Round (video submission)
Background and lighting
Recording your video
Final Competition (in-person)
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 101: HOW TO GET STARTED
Monday, January 24, 2022 | 12 pm – 1 pm | Zoom |
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 2022 Grad Slam participants
Grad Slam Alumni Facilitators: Former Grad Slam competitors and winners
MengWei Ko, Grad Slam Finalist, 2020
Joey Lao, Grad Slam Third Place Winner, 2018
Nyasha Maforo, Grad Slam 1st Place Winner, 2019
Ivy Ebuen, Manager, Operations & External Relations – Graduate Division
Samantha Tagoe, Events and Engagement Specialist – Graduate Division
Jacqueline Suero, Operations Administrative Specialist – Graduate Division
CRAFTING A COMPELLING PRESENTATION
Tuesday, January 25, 2022 | 12 pm – 1 pm | Zoom |
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.
Anousheh Shayestehpour, EdD, MEd,
Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UCLA
Anousheh is a lifelong educator, communications specialist, and arts advocate. Anousheh has over 17 years of experience in teaching and education administration across a variety of fields. She specializes in serving non-traditional populations, including students with disabilities, at-risk students, first-generation students, international students, and is currently working with older adults as the Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UCLA. An avid learner, she completed her baccalaureate studies at the age of 19, after which she was recruited by the Department of Defense to serve as a communications consultant for the National Guard Bureau’s Strategic Exploration Team (under the Obama Administration). Prior to moving to Los Angeles in 2014, she taught English at the secondary and post-secondary level, and was ambassador to the Kennedy Center’s Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) program for Arlington County Public Schools. Anousheh received her Bachelor’s in Communications from George Mason University, her Master’s in Education from the George Washington University, and her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research areas focus on educational psychology topics, such as inclusive pedagogy, curriculum, and factors that influence student resilience.
DESIGN PRINCIPLES FOR VISUAL PRESENTATIONS
Thursday, January 27, 2022 | 12 pm – 1 pm | (updated date)
Open to all graduate students
Presentation visuals like PowerPoint can either help or harm your presentation and for most presentations we see, it’s the latter. Too often, presentation visuals are an afterthought, a dumping ground for additional information, or notes just for the presenter. 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.
Professional & Career Development Portfolio Manager, UCLA Campus Human Resources
Kelsey fosters the professional development of UCLA staff through performance and impact coaching, program development, and workshop, course and retreat design, and facilitation. She manages a portfolio of professional & career development programs and initiatives, where she helps UCLA employees increase their impact and enhance their careers through skill development, strategic personal exploration, and project planning, execution, and presentation. She is a True Bruin, with a degree in Art from UCLA, 11 years of coaching experience, and a passion for fostering engagement and excellence in others.
BASIC PRESENTATION SKILLS: HOW TO RESONATE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
Friday, January 28, 2022 | 12 pm – 1 pm | Zoom | (updated date)
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. This workshop is open to all UCLA graduate students.
UCLA Campus Human Resources, Learning & Organizational Development
David is a training consultant with Campus Human Resources Learning & Organizational Development. He has spent more than two decades as an L&D professional focusing on leadership development, software training, and leveraging dynamic new employee orientations to engage and retain employees. David has worked across industries including entertainment, finance, health care, and social services, and prior to joining UCLA, he held training leadership positions for organizations such as GMAC Home Services, Bluebeam Software, and Volunteers of America Los Angeles. He has a master’s degree in Humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills and a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Central Washington University.
SMALL GROUP COACHING SESSIONS
Participating students must come prepared with a draft of their presentations. These virtual small group sessions give students the opportunity to present before the group via zoom 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.
Monday, February 7, 2022 | 10:30 am – 12:00 pm | Allison Daly and Marissa Stevens
Monday, February 7, 2022 | 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm | Joey Lao and Mengwei Ko
Tuesday, February 8, 2022 | 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm | Marissa Stevens and Sarah Stankowicz
Tuesday, February 8, 2022 | 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm | Joey Lao, Sarah Stankowicz, and Mengwei Ko
Wednesday, February 9, 2022 | 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm | Joey Lao and Allison Daly
Thursday, February 10, 2022 | 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm | Sarah Stankowicz and Marissa Stevens
Grad Slam Alumni Facilitators: Former Grad Slam competitors and winners
Before you record your video, be sure you have already attended one small group coaching session.
Instructions on Presenting on Zoom
Zoom is a versatile platform where you can self-record your presentation (without any other meeting participants) and share your PowerPoint presentation by the share screen function. This document will cover helpful tips on how to use Zoom for your Grad Slam qualifying round video submission.
UCLA Graduate Division
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
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)
Monday, February 14, 2022
Deadline for video submissions to enter the qualifying round
Qualifying Round Presenters and Judges
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
5:00 pm – 7:30 pm
UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center
Program | Acknowledgements
Final Competition & Celebratory Reception Invitation | 2022 Webcast/2022 Live Stream
Friday, May 6, 2022
San Francisco, CA
UC Grad Slam Website and Livestream
The UCLA campus winner will travel to San Francisco to compete in the UC Grad Slam competition to be held at the LinkedIn Headquarters. 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!
2022 UCLA Grad Slam Winners!
2022 UCLA Grad Slam Finalists!
Judging panels for the qualifying and final rounds will comprise faculty, academic deans, administrative staff, alumni, postdoctoral scholars, and donors. 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:
The 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.
Audience Choice Award
All Other Final Round Runners-up
All Qualifying Round Presenters
Students must be registered and enrolled during Winter Quarter 2022 and be in good academic standing to participate in the Grad Slam and 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.
The system-wide competition on Friday, May 6, 2022 in San Francisco, CA will feature the first-place winners from each of UC’s 10 campuses who will deliver their 3-minute research talks.
Randi & Jerome Greenberg
The Graduate Division is also grateful for our friends and partners who assist with outreach, venues, and communications:
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.
Questions? Email email@example.com – please include “Grad Slam” in the subject line or call (310) 206-6086.
Meet the Grad Slam Team
Manager of Operations & External Relations
“I’m looking forward to learning about all the innovative research that our brilliant graduate students are doing. Grad Slam is such a terrific opportunity for students to not only share their research with a larger audience but also develop as presenters.”
Operations Administrative Specialist
“I cherish the opportunity to support the production of Grad Slam, an event that champions the academic excellence of our Bruin community. I look forward to seeing students encapsulate years of groundbreaking research and give us a glimpse of what changes the future holds.”
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.”
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.”