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Grad Slam Finalist Profile: Integrative Pathobiology Graduate Student Veneese Brown

Meet Veneese Brown, Integrative Pathobiology Graduate Student and Grad Slam Finalist

Veneese Brown, Ph.D. Candidate in Integrative Pathobiology,  "Can What You Eat Protect Your Lungs From Air Pollution?”, 2021 Grad Slam Finalist. Includes a photo of Veneese in the lab and a Grad Slam logo with a microphone

Veneese Brown (she/her)

Program, Degree and Year of Study
Integrative Pathobiology, Ph.D., Cohort 2018

Research Interest
Pulmonary and Environmental Toxicology

Previous Degree and College
B.S. in Biology-Microbiology from California State Polytechnic University

Title of Grad Slam Presentation
Can What You Eat Protect Your Lungs From Air Pollution?

Describe your presentation style in three words.
Passionate, Informative, Engaging

What initially attracted you to your field of study?
I was always interested in environmental science and public health. On a more personal level, I am also an asthmatic. So, my passion to study pulmonary toxicology really stems from my yearning to understand how the environment affects my lungs, and what I can do to help others like myself.

Grad Slam is about presenting complex ideas for a general audience. Why would people want to learn more about your research?
Everyone, including myself, is exposed to car exhaust, cigarette smoke, etc. almost daily. These exposures for a long period of time can cause long term damage to your lungs and even cause cancer. It's important to be aware of these environmental toxins. In addition, it is just as important to know that there are potential all natural alternatives to help protect your lungs, and it can be done with just a small change to your diet.

What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam?
I practiced with my mother-in-law, who is a long-standing member with Los Angeles Toastmasters. She gave me great feedback on my presentation style and flow. Additionally, I practiced my talk with my lab, family and friends, in order to get various feedback from diverse backgrounds and occupations. I wanted my presentation to be understood by all, no matter your field of study.

What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy watching Netflix with my roommates, cooking, gardening, playing with my bird, playing video games, and playing the viola.

Do you have any mentors who helped you develop your interest and strength in research communication? If so, how did they help you?
My PI Dr. Laura Van Winkle noticed, when I first joined her lab two years ago, that I was very shy and introverted. She suggested from day one that I apply and present in Grad Slam. I was hesitant because I didn't see myself as a public speaker. So, to prepare for Grad Slam, she encouraged me to give a lecture for her freshman seminar class. This really helped me build confidence and I was able to practice how to properly communicate my field of study. If anything, I have my PI to thank for seeing me as the public speaker that I am today. 
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years I see myself working in a government or state position—helping the community solve environmental and public health issues. Additionally, I see my fiance who is and electrical engineer and I starting a STEM and tutoring program in underrepresented communities— introducing and encouraging kids and young adults to various career options in the STEM field. 

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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