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GradSLAM! Finalists Hope to Become Campus Champion

March 4, 2016

Ten UC Merced graduate students are going to the campuswide finals of the GradSLAM! competition in the hopes of becoming campus champion and competing with grad students from across the UC system.

The Graduate Division kicked off its second annual GradSLAM! with two sets of qualifying rounds on Tuesday, March 1. The top 10 competitors were selected to represent six graduate groups because they were most able to make their significant research understandable to general audiences.

GradSLAM!, a UC systemwide competition, provides graduate students with a forum to explain the methods, results and significance of their research.

The competition is made extra challenging by its time limitation and its focus on accessibility. Participants have just three minutes to convey the key points of research that has, in most cases, taken them years to complete. They must also use language that makes their work understandable to a non-specialty panel of judges.

The 10 finalists (organized alphabetically and by graduate group) are: Joel Heisler from Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Drew Abney and Bodo Winter from Cognitive and Information Sciences, Danielle Bermudez and Daniel Rios from Interdisciplinary Humanities, Kayla Canelo and Chelsea Coe from Political Science, Arturo Durazo from Psychological Sciences, and Yuriana Aguilar and Sabah Ul-Hasan from Quantitative and Systems Biology.

Participants in this first round of the competition represented nine UC Merced graduate groups. Research topics ranged from the physiology at work behind voters’ decisions to a new technique that can measure important cardiac functions. A judging panel of faculty members scored competitors on clarity of message, delivery, organization of ideas and intellectual significance.

Each finalist won $250 and will next compete in the UC Merced GradSLAM! finals on April 1 for the title of campus champion and a $2,000 grand prize. The champion will go on to represent UC Merced in the systemwide competition on April 22 in the Bay Area.