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Meet the Grad Slam Finalists: Alexander Schmidt

Alexander Schmidt and a leaning lamp post.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 5:00pm

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Alexander Schmidt

Program, Degree & Year of Study:  
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Ph.D., 1st year

Previous Degree(s) & College(s): 
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, UC Santa Barbara

Research Interest: 
Engineering Applications for Biomedical Diagnostics from Exhaled Human Breath

Title of Grad Slam Presentation: 
Portable Diagnostics: From Your Breath

What initially attracted you to your field of study?
I have always held an innate interest to peer down onto small systems and understand them. My field of study intertwines my passions for understanding phenomena at the micro scale and utilize this understanding towards the advancement of biomedical applications in human health.

What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam? 
Wrote a quick outline and rehearsed for approximately 20 minutes the night before. Spent a couple hours crafting the figures and bullet points for my slides.

Did you encounter any obstacles while preparing for Grad Slam? How did you overcome them? 
Having my presentation fit within the 3 minute time constraint and effectively communicating an advanced scientific concept in 40-60 seconds. 

What do you think sets you and your presentation apart from the other contestants? 
The content of my presentation holds great promise towards quick, personal, inexpensive, and non-invasive medical diagnostics that could prevent disease for millions of lives. This requires a multidisciplinary approach involving thermodynamic and fluid-dynamic physics at the micro and macro scales, biochemical analysis procedures, mechanical design, as well as clinical study approaches.

What are your other passions/hobbies? 
I am an explorer at heart and will travel at any given opportunity. I've been to 17 countries within the past 3 years! I love to learn languages. I am fluent in French and I have learned a little bit of Italian, German, American Sign Language (ASL), and Korean. I am currently taking a Kung Fu martial arts class on campus and I plan to learn horseback riding and the saxophone during my graduate studies.

UC Grad Slam is an annual contest in which master’s and Ph.D. students across UC campuses – in disciplines ranging from hard sciences to humanities – compete to sum up their research for a general audience. Students present the significance and fundamental points of their work at UC Davis in a clear, direct and interesting manner.

Over 80 master's and doctoral students from across UC Davis' 99 graduate programs submitted proposals for this year's competition, which kicked off with a qualifying round on February 28 at the ARC. Faculty and staff from across UC Davis volunteered to serve on the judging panels.

The finalists will compete against each other at the UC Davis Final Round at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art on April 14 from 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public, and is co-sponsored by the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. Registration is now open at

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