Three Minutes to Give it All That You’ve Got

UC Riverside graduate student heading to Oakland to compete for $6,000 fellowship

Rapicavoli won the $5,000 fellowship grand prize, and is now representing UCR at the UCOP GradSlam finals.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – It’s the ultimate pitch. Three minutes to break-down complicated and complex research – AND explain it to strangers in a captivating way. That’s what these UC graduate students have in store. It’s called, UC GradSlam. And representing UC Riverside at this University of California, Office of the President (UCOP) competition in Oakland will be Jeannette Rapicavoli.

Rapicavoli is UCR’s GradSlam finalist and will compete against the champions from all other UCs. She beat about 60 other UCR students for the $5,000 fellowship grand prize. Her presentation is on “Primed for Battle: Utilizing Microbial Patterns to Strengthen the Plant Immune System.”

Our winner, Jeannette Rapicavoli with Dean Childers and Provost DAnieri.

“My research focuses specifically on a bacterial pathogen called Xylella fastidiosa, which causes a devastating disease of grapevine called Pierce’s disease,” Rapicavoli explained. “This disease affects the multibillion-dollar wine, table, and raisin grape industries, and costs the state of California over 100 million dollars annually in crop losses and efforts to mitigate the disease.”

Rapicavoli said she hopes her research will contribute to the creation of much-needed alternatives for both Pierce’s disease and other important diseases affecting California agriculture. “It still amazes me that something so small has the propensity to cause such catastrophic damage,” she said.

This is the first ever UC-wide GradSlam competition. The event is on May 4, from 11 a.m.-1:10 p.m., it’s open to the public, and will be streamed online at:

UC GradSlam is an opportunity for graduate students at all UC campuses to showcase and articulate the importance of their research in three minutes. Students from all academic disciplines are welcome to participate. Contestants will be judged on several categories including clarity and delivery, the significance and appeal of the presentation, and whether the student was able to provide context.

The UC GradSlam winner will receive a $6,000 fellowship, the first runner-up will receive a $3,000 fellowship and the second runner-up will get a $1,000 fellowship.

Watch highlights from the 2015 UC Riverside GradSlam finals.

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