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UC Davis Grad Slam

Grad Slam Graphic Background

About Grad Slam

Grad Slam is an annual contest in which master’s and Ph.D. students across UC campuses – in disciplines ranging from hard sciences to the arts humanities – compete to sum up their research for a general audience. Students should present the significance and fundamental points of their work at UC Davis in a clear, direct, and interesting manner.  Participants are judged on how well they engage the audience, how clearly they communicate key concepts and how effectively they focus and present their ideas—all in three minutes or less.

In 2019, Plant Biology Ph.D. candidate Katie Murphy won both the UC Davis campus competition and the University of California tournament. Check out this video of her award-winning UC Final Round presentation. 



Participants who advance to the final round in the UC Davis Grad Slam competition will compete for the following prizes:

First Place: $2,500

Second Place: $1,500

Third Place: $750

People's Choice: $500

The first place winner at the campus level will have the opportunity to compete for the grand prize of $5,000 at the UC Grad Slam final contest.

Award details: please note, award amounts are distributed into your student account and will pay any debts first and is considered taxable income.

Rules and Requirements

  • Eligibility
  • All graduate students currently enrolled in UC Davis master's or doctoral graduate programs are eligible to compete in Grad Slam.  Participants compete individually on their research, there is not a team component.
  • Collaboration
  • In cases of collaborative research, the presenter’s contribution to the project must be salient and clearly specified.
  • Presentation and Visuals
  • - PowerPoint slides allowed but optional; no Prezi or other presentation formats.

    - Slides should be set to 4:3 aspect ratio in order to ensure proper display during your talk.

    - Maximum of 3 slides, exclusive of title slide to be generated by Graduate Studies.

    - Students must create their PowerPoint slides themselves - you cannot ask someone else to design the slides. Use of PowerPoint templates is allowed. Slides can include visual elements (charts, visualizations, photos, clip art, etc.) created by someone other than the student, as long as the slide credits the original creator.

    - Embedded audio and/or video clips (including but not limited to .gif, .avi, .mp4, .mp3, and .wmv file types) are not permitted unless they are deemed indispensable to the communication of the research topic. To request the inclusion of audio or video clip, participants must send both the presentation with the embedded media and a short statement of justification to the Graduate Studies Grad Slam Planning Committee. Requests must be sent to at least two weeks prior to the competition.

    - No PowerPoint animation effects are allowed (use of PowerPoint animation tab not allowed).

    - Props are allowed, but need to be cleared by the committee, require minimal set-up, and not produce a mess.
  • Timing
  • Timing will commence from the moment the student begins her/his presentation.  The presentation begins at the moment the student engages with the audience (if s/he starts with a hand clap, a gesture, an audio or video clip or any other such engagement, prior to speaking, the clock begins at that time; if there is no such engagement the clock starts when the student begins speaking); points will be deducted from the final score as follows:

    - 3:03-3:04  1 point
    - 3:05-3:06  2 points
    - 3:07-3:08  3 points
    - 3:09-3:10  4 points
    - 3:11-3:12    5 points

    Speakers will be cut off at 3:30 (total 15 point deduction).
  • Judges
  • A panel of faculty and staff members will judge each preliminary round. The judges will be selected to ensure disciplinary diversity and every effort will be made to minimize conflicts of interest (e.g., a faculty advisor will not judge a preliminary round involving his or her advisee).
  • Winners
  • There will be 10 winners from the qualifying round that advance to the semi-final rounds. ​In the semi-final round the top winner will advance to the University of California final round. 

Qualifying Round

This year's Grad Slam Qualifying Round will take place on February 10 and 13, 2020.  Expect a fast-paced, competition much like American Idol...only with thrilling graduate research. 

A panel of judges will assess the quality and clarify of the 3-minute presentations. The top ten presenters will be announced the following day and will be given instructions and tips for the UC Davis Final Round. All participants will also receive their scores, judge feedback, and a headshot that can be used on their LinkedIn profiles.

UC Davis Grad Slam - Sacramento Qualifying Round
February 10 | 9:00 a.m. - 12:00p.m. | Education Building Room 1204, Sacramento Campus

UC Davis Grad Slam - Davis Qualifying Round
February 13 | 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. | Student Community Center, Meeting Room D


Qualifying Round Participant Information and Instructions

  • Equipment 
  • All rooms will be equipped with a laptop, projector, slide advancer remote, and laser pointer.
  • Day-Of Preparations
  • Please arrive at the venue at least 15 minutes before your scheduled round to allow for check-in and other prep. 
  • Slides
  • You must send your PowerPoint slides ​to Kathryn Raley, ​at least 1 week prior to your scheduled presentation ​date. They will be pre-loaded onto a Graduate Studies laptop for display during your presentation. Slides should be set to 4:3 aspect ratio in order to ensure proper display during your talk. A remote will be available to advance through your slides.
  • Photography and Videography 
  • By entering the competition, you agree to allow UC Davis Graduate Studies to use the resulting photographs and/or video from Grad Slam, which may include your image or presentation, for publicity surrounding the contest and/or in other contexts, such as promotional materials, website, etc. 

Final Round

Come and watch the top ten UC Davis Grad Slam finalists compete for the top spot in at the University of California Championship. The finalists will be announced and profiled following the Qualifying Round on February 18.
UC Davis Grad Slam Final Round