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Meet the Grad Slam Finalists: Divya Kernik

UC Davis graduate student Divya Kernik in front of a scientific poster
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 (All day)


Divya Kernik

Divya Kernik

​Program and Degree: 
Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D., 4th Year

Research Interests: 
Computational Modeling to Understand Excitability Disorders in the Heart

Grad Slam Presentation Title:
An Electric Symphony: Understanding Variability in Heart Cells

What initially attracted you to your field of study?
I've always been interested in helping people, and I was drawn to math and science from a young age. I love the idea of using math and computers to better understand the body, and using these tools to improve human health.

How would you describe your presentation style?
I try to keep things simple and focus on the big picture. I also appreciate a good metaphor.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in developing your presentation?
The time limit! I've practiced explaining my research for all types of audiences, but I usually have more time. It was hard to choose how much content I could clearly explain in three minutes, while still getting the significance across to the audience.

Other than your own, which presentation in your Qualifying Round time slot impressed you the most?
Everyone in my time slot was amazing, I was so impressed with the scope of research going on at UC Davis -- and with everyone's presentation skills! In particular, (fellow finalist) Mayowa Adegboyega gave a very impressive presentation. She was confident, fun, and clearly explained the significance of her research. I'd love to learn more about her work!

Aside from your graduate research, what are your other passions or hobbies?
I love to travel and see new places. More locally, I enjoy volunteering and working on STEM outreach in the Davis/Sacramento community. I'm also always ready to take a yoga class, or dive into a good book.

Are you #TeamDivya?
Cheer her on at the April 5 UC Davis Grad Slam Finals. The event is free and open to the public, but seats are limited so reserve your ticket via Eventbrite today.

About Grad Slam

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 should present the significance and fundamental points of their work at UC Davis in a clear, direct, and interesting manner.

Participants are judged on how well they engage the audience, how clearly they communicate key concepts and how effectively they focus and present their ideas—all in three minutes or less.

Grad Slam contests are held on each of UC’s 10 campuses from February through May. The first place winners from each campus will square off to capture the systemwide title and their share of $10,000 in prize money.

For more information on the competition, visit