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2022 Grad Slam Finalists

The campus’s 2022 Grad Slam finalists are (listed alphabetically by last name): 

Environmental Systems Ph.D. student Vicky EspinozaVicky Espinoza

Environmental Systems

Title: "Bringing the voice of rural communities to California Water and Land Use"

Advisor: Joshua Viers

Research: Vicky aims to develop strategies for potential agricultural land-use transitions under California’s 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to address groundwater overdraft while minimizing impacts to already vulnerable groups. She simultaneously addresses the knowledge and decision-making equity gap among marginalized communities and farmers in California through her trilingual CaliWaterAg YouTube channel (

Environmental Systems Ph.D. student Marc Labata

Marc Labata

Environmental Systems

Title: "The Future of Energy"

Advisor: Po-Ya Abel Chuang

Research: Marc's project aims to make green hydrogen cheaper so we can get rid of fossil fuels like gasoline and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Physics Ph.D. student Michael LeveilleMichael Leveille


Title: "'Smart' Polymers"

Advisors: Sayantani Ghosh and Jennifer Lu

Research: Michael's research aims to create and test new materials, smart polymers that are adaptive to their environment, for diverse applications. With remote signaling, there's potential to control these materials from a galaxy far far away.


Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. student Karen MohammadtabarKaren Mohammadtabar

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor: Ashlie Martini

Mechanical Engineering Ph.D. student Wai OoWai Oo

Mechanical Engineering

Title: "Vanishing Friction"

Advisor: Mehmet Baykara

Research: Wai studies “superlubricity,” a special phenomenon where friction vanishes.


Environmental Systems Ph.D. student Yulissa Perez RojasYulissa Perez Rojas

Environmental Systems

Title: "Breathing Rain"

Advisor: Teamrat A. Ghezzehei

Research: For the past six decades, oxygen in rainwater has been overlooked when explaining the drastic carbon dioxide pulses after wetting dry soil. The purpose of this research is to bring a new hypothesis of how dissolved oxygen in rainwater provides another form of oxygen for soil microbial respiration.

Applied Mathematics Ph.D. student Maia PowellMaia Powell

Applied Mathematics

Title: "Preventing Malicious Content Online"

Advisor: Arnold Kim

Research: Maia's research focuses on characterizing language and users on social media to prevent the spread of malicious discourse online.


Quantitative and Systems Biologu Ph.D. sutdent Negar SeyedhassantehraniNegar Seyedhassantehrani

Quantitative & Systems Biology

Advisor: Joel Spencer

Research: Negar is trying to investigate how the aging and the cytotoxic insult including radiotherapy and chemotherapy result in structural and molecular changes in the thymus microenvironment as a critical organ in the immune system.


Quantitative & Systems Biology Ph.D. student Susana Tejeda-GaribaySusana Tejeda-Garibay

Quantitative & Systems Biology

“Helpful Bacteria vs Valley fever fungus” 

Advisor: Katrina Hoyer 

Research: Susana studies the interactions between commensal bacteria and Coccidioides and their influence on host innate and adaptive immune responses.


Quantitative & Systems Biology Ph.D. student Jessica WilsonJessica Wilson

Quantitative & Systems Biology

"CBD: Wonder Drug or Dud"

Advisor: Rudy Ortiz

Research: Jessica’s research investigates the effects of cannabidiol (CBD), an abundant chemical produced by marijuana, on high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.