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Grad Slam Finalist Profile: Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Spencer Dahl

Meet Spencer Dahl, Chemical Engineering Graduate Student and Grad Slam Finalist

Grad Slam 2021 UC Davis Finalist: Spencer Dahl, Ph.D. Candidate in Chemical Engineering. "The Battery Roadblock to our Electric Vehicle Future"

Spencer Dahl (he/him)

Program, Degree and Year of Study
Chemical Engineering, Ph.D., 3rd year

Research Interest
Lithium Ion Batteries

Previous Degrees and College
B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Montana State University
B.S. in Biological Engineering from Montana State University

Title of Grad Slam Presentation
The Battery Roadblock to Our Electric Vehicle Future

Describe your presentation style in three words.
Enthusiastic, Approachable, Accessible

What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam?
I watched Grad Slam videos from past years and talked with my friends and family about how to make my research more approachable for the general public.

What initially attracted you to your field of study?
I was excited to pivot into a new field of material science and explore relevant topics that could impact our energy storage future! Also, my advisor, Professor Ricardo Castro, is so passionate about his research that I was very excited to work with him and explore this field of study under his direction. 

Grad Slam is about presenting complex ideas for a general audience. Why would people want to learn more about your research?
Battery technology will likely be a critical part of our future if renewable energies are going to truly succeed and replace fossil fuels. It is an exciting time as researchers and companies race to find long term solutions to the instabilities currently found in batteries.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to ski, mountain bike, camp, and explore new places with my wife and our golden retriever!

Do you have any mentors who helped you develop your interest and strength in research communication? If so, how did they help you?
I have had several mentors that are able to change their presentation style for their audience and I was able to learn new skills from their presentations. I owe a lot of my writing and communication ability from their guidance and their focus on carefully crafting research presentations. Professor Castro is exceptional at communicating scientific ideas and always gives me great advice on how to effectively summarize my research.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to be in a research and development role for a company and help drive the overall scientific vision of the business. I am also still interested in teaching and academic research, so I hope to continue collaborations within universities.

Learn More About UC Davis Grad Slam Finalists

Learn more about the other finalists. Read the Grad Slam Finalist Profiles

Watch the Final Round Virtual Competition

This year, the continuing COVID-19 pandemic has added a new video component to the already challenging public speaking event. The finalists will compete against each other at the UC Davis Final Round during National Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week. Cheer on the Grad Slam finalists virtually on Thursday, April 8, from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. RSVP to reserve your spot!

The winner of the campus final round will have the opportunity to compete at the University of California-wide competition on May 7.  In 2019, UC Davis champion and Plant Biology Ph.D. candidate Katie Murphy went on to win the top University of California prize of $6,000. Visit the Grad Slam website to learn more about UC Davis Grad Slam. 

UC Davis Grad Slam Sponsors

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

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