Meet Peter Joseph Torres, Linguistics Graduate Student and Grad Slam Finalist
Peter Joseph Torres
Program, Degree & Year of Study
4th year, Linguistics Ph.D.
Sociolinguistics, Discourse Analysis
Previous Degree(s) & College(s)
Linguistics and Anthropology B.A., University of California, Los Angeles; Linguistics M.A. University of California, Davis
Title of Grad Slam Presentation
We can, we should, we must, and we will fight the opioid crisis
Describe your presentation style in three words.
Anti-cookie-cutter, discussed, unexpected
What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam?
As a linguist working on medical issues, I've had to explain my research to an audience unfamiliar with the domain. Most were not successful, so I would say, I learn from my mistakes. I'd say, I familiarized myself more than I memorized my presentation. I also had my friends make funny faces while I practice just so that I can prepare myself for potential distractions. I was mouthing the words to my presentation while walking around campus and making eye contact with random people who probably thought I was creepy. (I had to practice making eye contact without getting distracted). I pretty much embarrassed myself so that when it was time for Grad Slam, I have no more shame left to give. I started thinking of how I would recover in case of a fumble. I was playing silly scenarios in my head, like what if I start sneezing, do I excuse myself and lose time, or do I just go for it? I disguise this as preparation, but I was really procrastinating because I did not come up with any reasonable solutions.
What initially attracted you to your field of study?
Ever since I was an undergraduate, looking at conversations in the medical field just made sense to me. It felt like home. Everyone will have to have a conversation with a doctor or a nurse at some point in their life so the topic, to me, is universal.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Good question. What is free time? I work out almost every day. I love watching reality TV game shows (when I take a break from dissertating).
Do you have any mentors who helped you develop your interest and strength in research communication? If so, how did they help you?
Yes, my advisors, Professors Vaidehi Ramanathan and Robert Bayley, train me to be able to explain my work and reach out to a broader audience. I also joined a similar contest for linguists before, and Professor Georgia Zellou gave me a lot of advice.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
If I don't get a teaching job, watch out for me in a reality tv game show somewhere. All kidding aside, I would like to be teaching in a university and doing research.
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.
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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About Graduate Studies
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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.