This week marked the occasion of the first-ever UC Merced GradSLAM! finals. During the event, 10 graduate student finalists had just three minutes to present their research to a panel of non-specialist judges. The goal of the competition is to increase graduate students’ communication skills and their capacity to effectively present their work with poise and confidence.
Left to right: Holly Rus, Nathaniel Bogie, and Joannee Zumkehr
Environmental Systems student Nathaniel Bogie was selected as the competition’s first-place winner. He will receive a $2,000 prize and will represent UC Merced in the systemwide Grad Slam competition on May 4.
Runners-up Joannee Zumkehr, a Quantitative and Systems Biology student, and Holly Rus, from Psychological Sciences, will each receive a $1,000 prize. Each of the remaining contestants will be awarded $250 in recognition of their excellent performances.
“I am so pleased with the caliber of presentations that we have seen during the course of this competition,” said Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education Marjorie Zatz. “Communicating complex research to a group of laypeople in a polished, professional, and engaging manner can be quite difficult, but our finalists have risen admirably to the challenge. I am sure that our first-place winner will make UC Merced proud at the systemwide competition next month.”
32 students competed in the initial GradSLAM! qualifying rounds, held on March 3. The 10 students selected as finalists represented the Applied Math, Cognitive and Information Sciences, Environmental Systems, Psychological Sciences, and Quantitative and Systems Biology graduate groups.
After being selected, the finalists were able to take advantage of individualized coaching sessions with representatives from the Merced Playhouse, who helped them further develop their public speaking skills.
The distinguished judges for the event were Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Tom Peterson, Merced Mayor Stan Thurston, Merced County Supervisor Hub Walsh, Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations Kyle Hoffman, and UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees members Dorothy Bizzini and Dr. Phyllis Nusz.
The systemwide Grad Slam competition, hosted by University President Janet Napolitano, will be held in Oakland on May 4. The competition will also be live-streamed on campus at The Grad Pad (SSB 350) from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm.