UC Davis Chemistry student Fatima Hussain

Grad Slam Finalist Profile: Chemistry Ph.D. Student Fatima Hussain

Meet Fatima Hussain, Chemistry Graduate Student and Grad Slam Finalist


Fatima Hussain

Program, Degree & Year of Study

Chemistry, Ph.D., 4th Year

Research Interests

Sustainable mesoporous materials for water remediation

Previous Degree(s) & College(s)

B.S. in Chemistry from San José State University

Title of Grad Slam Presentation
Waste Wise

Describe your presentation style in three words. 
Captivating, informative, and relatable!

What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam? 
I was a finalist last year as well so I was familiar with the format, expectations, and judging criteria. I improved my talk based on feedback I received from the judges last year. I thought of the key idea that I wanted to convey, and built a story around it. I wanted to make my presentation relatable to my audience, but at the same time not diminish all the science that goes into it. The most important thing of all was PRACTICE!

How has your presentation and your presentation style changed over the past year?
I have shifted the focus of my presentation from crude oil to a new group of contaminants known as PFAS. I don't think my presentation style has changed much, but my passion for the environment, and the cows in Davis has grown.

What initially attracted you to your field of study? 
I want to be a part of making sure that we leave this world in a better place for generations to come. So, I decided to study how our actions impact our environment. Throughout my undergraduate career, I researched aerosol particles in the atmosphere, and once I started graduate school, I knew I wanted to continue this passion of saving the environment. I decided to focus on water remediation, since water is literally the source of life. It is shocking how little of the earth’s water is accessible, but even more so, how easy it is to contaminate it.

What do you like to do in your free time? 
I love all things food related; cooking, eating, watching TV shows of people cooking! I enjoy playing board games with my friends, and traveling to new places. I was just at the Grand Canyon in December, it was covered in snow, but breathtaking.

Do you have any mentors who helped you develop your interest and strength in research communication? If so, how did they help you?
The first class I enrolled in at San José State University was Public Speaking taught by Stephanie Anderson. That class changed my life as it taught me how to better express myself, be confident, and to keep improving my communication style. Stephanie was a great teacher even though the class was at 7:30 a.m., I never missed a day!

Based on your qualifying round presentation, you were one of two finalists granted a Global Education for All Designation from Global Affairs. Can you tell us about the global significance of your research?
Having access to clean drinking water is a convenience that only 90% of the world's population can enjoy. Lack of potable water is often associated with poverty or socioeconomic class, but it's not the only cause. PFAS are found worldwide in non-stick cookware in peoples' homes, restaurants, and in food packaging products. Improper disposal of these products in landfills can contaminate our water supply. Therefore, it's important to develop technologies to degrade PFAS and prevent contamination of drinking water.

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 knraley@ucdavis.edu

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.


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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.



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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.

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