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The UC San Diego Grad SLAM is a graduate student competitive speaking event that showcases graduate student research. Grad SLAM participants present their research using three PowerPoint slides in a three-minute “TED-like talk” that can be understood by a general audience. Presenters will compete in successive rounds and receive prizes ranging from $100.00-$5,000.00. The top winner will have the opportunity to compete in the annual UC system-wide Grad SLAM competition in Northern California. All travel expenses to participate in the statewide competition will be covered by the Graduate Division.

The goal of this event is to share with the campus community the tremendous quality of the graduate research at UC San Diego and offers an opportunity for graduate students to develop oratorical skill, a dynamic delivery, and compelling content when presenting their academic research. 

Grad SLAM 2017

Videos in order of presentation

  1. Suzanne Rohrback
  2. Melissa Vipperman-cohen
  3. Jonathan Trueblood (2nd place)
  4. Caleb Christianson
  5. Juliane Moreto
  6. Matthew Wills
  7. Rongxin Fang
  8. Gopesh Tilvawala
  9. Erin Smolak (3rd place)
  10. Geoff Hollett (1st place)

Congratulations to Geoff Hollett from Materials Science and Engineering for winning this year's UC San Diego Grad SLAM competition with his talk "Using Geometry to Build Better Birth Control". Geoff will compete at the UC systemwide Grad SLAM contest on May 4th! 

Grad SLAM 2017 Winner

Special recognition goes out to Jonathan Trueblood from Chemistry & Biochemistry for placing second and Erin Smolak from Language & Communicative Disorders for placing third!

Grad SLAM 2017 Winners


How to "Speak Research" and Be Understood

This workshop will highlight techniques to make you successful in the competition.

  • Wednesday, February 1, 11am-12pm in the Bear Room (Price Center West)
  • Wednesday. February 8, 12-1pm in the Center for the Humanities (Literature Building, Suite 310)
  • Friday, February 10, 10-11am in the Red Shoe Room (Price Center West)

Drop-In Coaching Sessions

  • Monday, February 13, 2-4pm in the Red Shoe Room (Price Center West)
  • Wednesday, February 15, 1-3pm in the Roosevelt College Room (Price Center West)
  • Thursday, February 16, 3-5pm in the Bear Room (Price Center West)
  • Friday, February 17, 9-11am in the Red Shoe Room (Price Center West)


Preliminary Rounds

  • Tuesday, February 21st
    • 10am - 12pm (Bear Room)
      • Winners: Suzanne Rohrback, Jonathan Trueblood, Xingzhong Wu
  • Wednesday, February 22nd
    • 10am - 12pm (Bear Room)
      • Winners: Sandy Bohan, Rongxin Fang, Angela Nicholson, Gabriel Pratt, Matthew Wills
  • Thursday, February 23rd
    • 10am - 12pm (Bear Room)
      • Winners: Geoff Hollett, Jinxing Li, Michael Metke, Gopesh Tilvawala, Melissa Vipperman-Cohen
    • 1 - 3pm (Bear Room)
      • Winners: Caleb Christianson, Dane Malone, Juliane Sempionatto-Moreto, Erin Smolak, Andrew Zhao

Semi-Final Rounds

  • Tuesday, March 7th (Chancellor's Complex, Room 111A)
    • 9 - 11am
      • Winners: Caleb Christianson, Geoff Hollett, Suzanne Rohrback, Jonathan Trueblood, Melissa Vipperman-Cohen, Matthew Wills
    • 1 - 3pm
      • Winners: Rongxin Fang, Juliane Sempionatto-Moreto, Erin Smolak, Gopesh Tilvawala

UCSD Final Round

  • Wednesday, April 5th (Student Services Center, Multipurpose Room)
    • 4 - 6pm

UC systemwide Final

  • Thursday, May 4th in San Francisco, CA


All Participants

  • Grad SLAM swag


  • $100


  • 1st place - $5,000
  • 2nd place - $3,000
  • 3rd place - $1500
  • Participants - $500

Logistics and Files

  • PowerPoint Template - download
    • PowerPoint presentations are due on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 3:00pm to sslebioda@ucsd.edu
    • To ensure compatibility, please do not alter the background or filetype (pptx)
  • Please show up on time! Any late participants will be disqualified from their round and may request to be rescheduled to a later date, pending availability.

Katy Brecht - Center for Student Involvement

Katy Brecht is a member of the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) Communication and Leadership team!  She brings a wealth of experience in event planning and leadership development from her previous roles on campus. Prior to working at CSI Katy served as Coordinator of Student Activities at Muir College, where she advised 13 Muir College student organizations and coordinated leadership conferences as well as cultural, social and educational programs.  Previously, Katy served as College Outreach Coordinator for Non-Resident Students, where she planned initiatives for international and out-of state students, developed assessment plans and assisted with student leadership trainings.  Katy is an alumnae of UC San Diego with a degree in Cognitive Science and after graduating from UCSD she earned a master’s degree in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the University of Southern California. 

Tiffany Fox - Qualcomm Institute

Tiffany Fox is a Public Information Representative for the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego, as well as an award-winning public speaker. She  helps researchers tell their research stories and has offered research communications training to hundreds of undergraduates and grad students at UC San Diego, across a wide range of disciplines. She also writes a weekly newsletter on research communications, Research Refined. Prior to coming to UC San Diego, Tiffany was a columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune for 10 years. She is a freelance journalist and has written for local, national and international publications on a multitude of topics spanning science, engineering, technology and the arts. She is also a certified yoga teacher, served in Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer and is a mother of two.



  • TED Talks: Approximately 3-minute 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

2016 Finals

Videos in order of presentation

  1. Lynne Waterhouse
  2. Amay Bandodkar
  3. Jung-Hwan Albert Lim
  4. Mary Glen Fredrick (2nd Place)
  5. Sarah Shires
  6. Lorenzo Rossini (3rd Place)
  7. Nicholas Root
  8. Tiffany Taylor (1st Place)
  9. Catherine Nickels
  10. David Adamowicz

2015 Finals

Videos in order of presentation

  1. Nicholas Root
  2. Rachel Meza
  3. Garfield Kwan
  4. Steven Naleway
  5. Jennie Kuckertz (3rd Place)
  6. Calandra Turner Tomaszewicz
  7. Catherine Nickels
  8. Sophia Georghiou (2nd Place)
  9. Alyssa Finlay
  10. Alex Phan (1st Place)
  11. Andrew Peters

2014 Finals

Videos in order of presentation

  1. Keng Lou James Hung
  2. Catherine Dufour
  3. Paola Marcovecchio
  4. Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld
  5. Sarah Jurick (2nd Place)
  6. Colin Haynes
  7. Benjamin Rubin (3rd Place)
  8. Patrick Metz (1st Place)
  9. Eric Keen
  10. Sophia Georghiou