Alice Dien and Dean Jean Pierre Delplanque with an oversized winner's check.

Biological Systems Engineering Grad Student Alice Dien Named 2022 UC Davis Grad Slam Champion

Third-year Biological Systems Engineering Ph.D. student Alice Dien won first place at the UC Davis Grad Slam Semi-Final round on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. Her winning presentation “Cooling Down with the New Hot Air: The Future of Drying in Agriculture” earned her a $2,500 first prize. 

Dien's award-winning presentation examined the role of drying in food processing and examined how to make drying systems cleaner and cheaper. 

“The more I learned about food and agricultural engineering and science, the more I realized our food system is dysfunctional and inequitable,” said Dien. “Although these inequities show in different ways throughout our food supply chain, something was very clear to me: we need to change our approach to food production, and we need to do it quickly.”

Dien believes the most urgent needs in the system are food insecurity and food safety, which prompted her research. 

“The reality is that a third of the food we are producing today is lost before reaching the consumer,” said Dien. “That’s why I decided that I wanted to do something to address food loss, especially considering the resource-constraints existing today.”

At Grad Slam, Dien presented her work to create a drying system that helps reduce food loss while shifting towards cleaner energy sources

In addition to earning the first prize, Dien also secured other prizes and recognitions. She won the $500 Public Impact Prize from UC Davis Public Scholarship and Engagement for her demonstrating how her research will have a significant impact by addressing a public concern or topic.

Drying literally affects all people no matter where in the world," said Dien. "Many staple crops need to be dried, like rice, corn, and wheat, which makes it an incredibly important process for food safety and security."

As part of her participation in UC Davis Grad Slam, Dien also received a special Global Education for All Designation from UC Davis Global Affairs. 

“Grad Slam initiated many other conversations about my research outside of the competition,” said Dien. “That is the magic of communicating science to a broad audience. When people can relate and understand your work, they become curious, and they want to find out more about what you are doing and how it works."

Congratulations to All the Semi-Final Round Winners

The following graduate students also received top scores from the judges and finished the competition with their own awards, recognition, and prize money. Watch their presentations below.

Second Place $1,500 Award Winner
Savannah Free, Ph.D. Student in Integrative Genetics and Genomics
Up a Creek Without a Platelet: How the Bloodstream Can Help Us Beat Breast Cancer

Third Place $750 Award Winner
Paige Kouba, Ph.D. Candidate in Ecology
Climate Change Time Machine: Sending Trees 50 Years 
into the Future

People's Choice $500 Award Winner
Andrea Guggenbickler, M.P.H., Ph.D. Student in Public Health
Let's Talk About Sex...Education

Visit our YouTube channel to watch all the presentations and the full 2022 UC Davis Grad Slam competition.

Watch: 2022 UC Davis Grad Slam Competition

Cheer on Alice at the University of California Grad Slam Competition

Dien will represent UC Davis at the University of California Grad Slam Finals on May 6, where she will compete against the final round winners from the other nine UC campuses. Be sure to tune in to the live stream to cheer her on.

Global Education for All Designations 

GEFA Badge

The "Global Education for All" designation recognizes a Grad Slam submission that illustrates how a graduate student embraces global learning. Global learning at UC Davis is a combination of local, regional, national, and international experiences through which the student develops key skills, knowledge, and networks that help them build global awareness, engage global diversity and pursue collaborative and equitable global action. A global education-oriented project might illustrate global awareness by confronting a global challenge as articulated by the UN Sustainable Development Goals no matter where in the world that happens.  A panel of judges from Global Affairs selected the following recipients for their research contributions to Global Education for All. Click on the links below to watch their presentations. 

Judges from the Campus Community and Beyond

UC Davis Graduate Studies invited judges from the local community to evaluate the students’ presentations. The final round judges were:

  • Mary Croughan, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, UC Davis
  • Andrea Flores, Anchor/Reporter, KCRA 3
  • Dawnté Early, President and CEO of United Way California Capital Region
  • Sarah McCullough, Associate Director, Feminist Research Institute
  • Stacey Muse, Director of Engagement, UC Davis Public Scholarship and Engagement
  • Rinki Sethi, VP & CISO,

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