UC Davis graduate student Peter Torres

Grad Slam Finalist Profile: Linguistics Ph.D. Candidate Peter Joseph Torres

Meet Peter Joseph Torres, Linguistics Graduate Student and Grad Slam Finalist



Peter Joseph Torres

Program, Degree & Year of Study
4th year, Linguistics Ph.D.

Research Interests
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. 

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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