Mind Bending Ideas Made Simple

Community invited to watch UCR graduate students present their research and creative projects in 3 minutes at the Grad Slam Finals

An image of the Grad Slam logo

Grad Slam is a University of California contest that encourages emerging scholars to present their research in a relevant and accessible way.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — Graduate students at the University of California, Riverside spend years on their research and creative projects, but can they explain them in just three minutes? Community members and journalists are invited to find out at UC Riverside’s Grad Slam finals, which will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Monday, May 1 at the UCR Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, 3834 Main St., Riverside. Please RSVP to attend this free event.

Grad Slam is a University of California systemwide contest that encourages emerging scientists and scholars to present their research in short TED-style talks that can captivate a diverse audience. Eleven UCR students from a variety of disciplines will compete in the May 1 finals, with the winner travelling to the LinkedIn offices in San Francisco to compete on May 4 against winners from the nine other UC campuses.

The UCR finalists and their categories and topics are:

  • Eleinis Avila Lovera; Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology; Do Woody Plants with Photosynthetic Stems Respond Differently to Climate Change?
  • Chloe Cole; Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts; Thrill Kill: Live! : Violence Against Women in Media
  • Lauren Conroy; Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology; Social Signals Affect Reproductive Investment in Crickets
  • Lydia Elias; Physics and Astronomy; Stellar Halos: Tracing a Galaxy’s Evolution with Simulations
  • Dietlinde Heilmayr; Psychology; Growing Healthy Humans
  • Nathan Horrell; Neuroscience; Neuroscience of Parental Care: Why do People Love their Children?
  • Kirin McCrory; Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts; Representation Matters: Seeing is More than Believing
  • Nicole Olweean; Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts; Writing of Witness: Printing Syrian Refugee Voices in the West
  • Alex Rajewski; Plant Biology; A Family Divided: Evolution of Dry and Fleshy Fruit in Nightshades
  • Jesus Rivera; Material Science and Engineering; The Ironclad Beetle: Nature’s Tough Composite
  • Lorena Villanueva-Almanza; Botany and Plant Sciences; What we Thought we Knew about the Iconic Palms of Hollywood

Kevin Esterling, interim dean of the Graduate Division and professor of political science and public policy, said making research matter to people outside the university is one of the most important professional skills for graduate students to develop.

“Our graduate students engage in innovative research that will benefit many areas of society, and the ability to explain that research in an accessible and relevant way will help them engage the public and work within their communities to solve tomorrow’s challenges,” Esterling said.

During the competition, participants will be judged on how well they engage the audience, how clearly they communicate key concepts, and how effectively they focus and present their ideas—all of which they must do in three minutes or less. Judges will include Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey; Victor Tolan, President and CEO of B+K Precision; Tobin Sloane, CFO of Ware Malcomb; and Craig Blunden, CEO of Provident Savings Bank.

Peter Byrley delivers his presentation, “Renewable nanopower: the new age of earth abundant electronics” at the 2016 Grad Slam finals.
Photo by Robert Durell

In addition to advancing to the systemwide final, the winner will receive a $5,000 research fellowship. The winner of the Audience Choice Award will receive a $1,000 fellowship. Being able to explain the value of their research to the general public will also help the scholars find jobs, secure grants, and advance their careers, Esterling said.

UCR’s Grad Slam began with 77 students competing in six preliminary rounds for a spot in the semi-finals. UC President Janet Napolitano will emcee the UC-wide contest, which will be judged by a panel of leaders in industry, media, government and higher education. More information and a live stream of that event is on the Grad Slam website.

Last year, UCR’s Peter Byrley, a graduate student in chemical and environmental engineering, won the UC-wide contest for his research to create smaller, more powerful microprocessors using graphene instead of silicon.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-4580
E-mail: sarah.nightingale@ucr.edu
Twitter: snightingale

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