Skip to main content

Grad Slam Finalist Profile: Animal Biology Graduate Student Claire Shaw

UC Davis graduate student Claire Shaw
Monday, May 18, 2020 (All day)

Meet Claire Shaw, Animal Biology Graduate Student and Grad Slam Finalist

Claire Shaw

Program, Degree & Year of Study
Animal Biology, Ph.D., 2nd year

Research Interests
My main focus is gaining a holistic understanding of the gut microbiome using in-vitro modeling. There's an additional focus on understanding the role of understudied microorganisms using the in-vitro models.

Previous Degree(s) & College(s)
Bachelors of Science, Microbiology from UC Davis

Title of Grad Slam Presentation
Meet Your Microbiome

Describe your presentation style in three words. 
Engaging, Humorous, Friendly

What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam? 
To prepare for Grad Slam I tried to pick out a part of my broad research aims that would appeal to a wide array of people. Though only a part of my research, I feel as though fungus is a tangible topic for most people and thus the topic I chose to focus on in my presentation. I had the great support of my lab and friends in practicing and perfecting my presentation.

What initially attracted you to your field of study? 
I've always been interested in animal health and originally had a career trajectory towards veterinary medicine, but working in a lab my freshman year introduced me to the world of microbes. I got pretty instantly hooked on trying to understand how these tiny creatures play such a big role in overall animal and human health. Since those initial years in the lab I have only become more passionate about the microbiome and all of the research possibilities this broad topic encompasses. It's a really fast-paced and interesting research field that keeps me curious and allows for seemingly endless exploration.

What do you like to do in your free time? 
I fill my free time with even more science and microbiology, only at home it takes the form of baking. I love using my knowledge of microbes to make tasty things like sourdough and to fuel interesting projects like kombucha brewing. When not in the kitchen I like to be outside playing with my dog or hiking in beautiful areas around Northern California.

Do you have any mentors who helped you develop your interest and strength in research communication? If so, how did they help you?
I lucked out and ended up working with a wonderful mentor, Steve Frese, as an undergrad. Steve gave me opportunities as an undergrad to both perform science and present it as well. Through presenting conferences as an undergrad, I was able to develop an idea of how to convey complex scientific concepts in more concise ways. I also had the great support of my undergraduate lab in teaching me through their own presentations how to approach science communication for different audiences. Learning how to convey what you are doing at the bench to people who are not already invested in your field is really important, so I'm fortunate to have continued mentorship in communication from my PI and graduate professors.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
A decade down the road I hope to be utilizing my degree to help improve the health and lives of humans and animals through microbial interventions. I love the field I currently work in and aim to continue working in something at least peripherally related. There are many exciting things that microbiome research presents and it would be thrilling to be part of using this research to benefit humanity in some way. Perhaps more importantly, in 10 years I see myself with quite a few more dogs and a few other choice pets.

About This Year's Final Round

Due to the shelter-in-place order and the ongoing Coronavirus situation, UC Davis Graduate Studies chose to cancel the 2020 UC Davis Grad Slam final round event on April 7. 

Though the event’s cancellation draws this year’s competition to a close, Graduate Studies is eager to continue rewarding and recognizing the efforts of this year’s finalists. Graduate Studies, along with Grad Slam sponsors Public Scholarship and Engagement and Global Affairs, will be awarding each of the ten finalists a prize amount of $625. 

Graduate Studies will also be highlighting each of the finalists in web profiles and working with campus partners to identify alternative ways in which their contributions to society might be publicly recognized and celebrated over the course of the next year. 

For more information about UC Davis Grad Slam, visit the Grad Slam website or contact Kathryn Raley, Program and Event Manager for Graduate Studies, at

UC Davis Grad Slam Sponsors

Graduate Studies would like to thank this year's UC Davis Grad Slam sponsors for their generosity and support.

The Office of Research serves as the primary campus resource for matters related to research and technology commercialization. OR provides services and resources to simulate research, facilitate collaborations,  optimize infrastructure, ensure compliance and  translate innovations into commercial applications for societal benefit. Learn more by visiting the UC Davis Office of Research website.

Public Scholarship and Engagement (PSE) is fostering a culture of engagement at UC Davis that increases the university’s impact through mutually-beneficial relationships that have local, regional, statewide, and global reach. We envision UC Davis research, teaching and learning that serves society and makes a positive difference in the world. Learn more by visiting the Public Scholarship and Engagement website.

Global Affairs brings the world to UC Davis, welcoming more than 10,000 international students, scholars and leaders, and hosting programs that inspire global curiosity, understanding and engagement. Compelled by the valuable outcomes of thinking globally, we make transformative opportunities a reality by supporting the thousands of students and faculty learning and researching globally—and by facilitating collaborations that tackle the world’s most pressing challenges through more than 150 global partnerships.

Putting our vision of a UC Davis community that engages, thrives, and leads in this interconnected world into action, Global Affairs is in pursuit of an ambitious goal: Global Education for All.

About Graduate Studies

Graduate Studies at UC Davis includes over 100 dynamic degree programs and a diverse and interactive student body from around the world. Known for our state-of-the-art research facilities, productive laboratories and progressive spirit – UC Davis offers collaborative and interdisciplinary curricula through graduate groups and designated emphasis options, bringing students and faculty of different academic disciplines together to address real-world challenges.
UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars become leaders in their fields: researchers, teachers, politicians, mentors and entrepreneurs. They go on to guide, define and impact change within our global community.

For information on Graduate Studies’ current strategic initiatives, visit the Graduate Studies strategic plan page.