Meet the Grad Slam Finalists: Michael Huh

UC Davis Grad Slam Finalists

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  • Meet Geology graduate student Michael Huh.

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Michael Huh

Program & Degree:  
Geology, Ph.D., 1st year

Previous Degree(s) & College(s): 
A.S., Pasadena City College

Research Interest: 

Title of Grad Slam Presentation: 
How much water is there in magma?

What initially attracted you to your field of study?
There were two aspects of geology that really appealed to me. First, I fell in love with the detective work that one can do by looking at rocks. Being able to read the history off a rock is very exciting and rewarding. Secondly, the enthusiasm of every geology professor I've had was infectious. Every geology professor was as enthusiastic about rocks as they were in teaching the new generation of geologists.

What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam? 
I remembered the enthusiasm all my professors had, and I tried to emulate them. Also, I remembered back to the days that my father would tell me exciting bed time stories. I would be honored if I can be half the story teller he is.

Did you encounter any obstacles while preparing for Grad Slam? How did you overcome them? 
One of the ways I find myself reacting to complicated science talks is by daydreaming and not paying attention, and I worked hard to try and avoid inducing this same behavior in others. The first couple drafts of my talk definitely would have had people nodding off or at least checking their phones. I just kept rewriting my talk over and over again, all while trying to imagine myself in the audience. Would my own talk make my mind wander?

What do you think sets you and your presentation apart from the other contestants? 
In today's mind-numbingly fast paced world, we are constantly bombarded with distractions. In our own pockets, we carry a device that is probably the worst offender. When I present my work, I try to tell a story. I try to immerse my listeners and convince them to leave their cell phones alone for a moment. No slides, no distractions, just story.

What are your other passions/hobbies? 
Kendo and dancing!

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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