A photo collage of 2024 Grad Slam Top 10

Top 10 Finalists of 2024 UC Davis Grad Slam Announced

Graduate students will compete at the April 12 semi-final round

 Graduate Studies is proud to announce the 2024 Top 10 finalists of UC Davis Grad Slam.

This year’s top 10 finalists will be competing at the semi-final round of UC Grad Slam on April 12. The event will be held at the Graduate Center in Walker Hall at UC Davis, and all are welcome to attend by registering here. The graduate students will be vying for the chance to win $5,000, among other awards, as well as the opportunity to compete in the final round of UC Grad Slam where they could win the UC-wide title and additional prize money.

UC Grad Slam is an annual competition where master’s and doctoral students are invited to share their research in a compelling presentation that is three minutes or less. UC Davis has been participating in UC Grad Slam since 2016.

A panel of internal and external volunteer judges selected this year’s Top 10 UC Davis graduate students from a highly competitive pool of videos submissions. Those who made it to the semi-final round were reviewed and scored based on their presentation skills and compliance with the competition criteria. 

“This year’s finalists are a great example of the breadth of high-level, impactful research and scholarship that our graduate students engage in at UC Davis,” said Jean-Pierre Delplanque, vice provost and dean of Graduate Studies. “I'm so excited to watch their pitches at our April 12 Grad Slam event. I know it's going to be a very tough competition."

The champion of the UC Davis Grad Slam competition will go on to compete with winners from other campuses at the University of California Grad Slam annual competition, which will be held in person at the LinkedIn headquarters in San Francisco on May 3, 2024.

Congratulations to the 2024 Top 10 Finalists!

(listed in alphabetical order by last name)

Rajul Bains smiles at the camera.

Rajul Bains
Master's student, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Group
"Organs-in-a-bottle: Understanding Cancer in the Palm of Your Hand"
Growing up, my father would love building these “ships-in-a-bottle” that you would see in antique shops. Now, imagine recreating a human organ as a biologically dynamic, miniature model that’s as accurate as the full-sized one in our bodies! Much harder, right? This is the cornerstone of my research, which uses microfluidic technology to create mini "organs-in-a-bottle" to study how our immune system fights cancer. I'm enthusiastic about my work and love sharing it with friends and family who might not be familiar with my research! Participating in Grad Slam is an amazing opportunity to bring this exciting work to a broader audience! 

Meredith Carlson sitting for the camera.

Meredith Carlson
Ph.D. candidate, Anthropology
"Cracking Open the Past: Better Archaeology through Monkey Models"
My research is in primate archaeology – a new area that combines the methods of archaeology with questions about our living primate relatives. I'm so excited to share my enthusiasm for the clever tool-using capuchin monkeys that I study.

Sam Dudley smiles for the camera.

Sam Dudley
Ph.D. student, Horticulture and Agronomy Graduate Group
"Using Biology to Create More Drought Resistant Grapevines"
I research the drought tolerance of grapevine roots. I chose to enter grad slam because I know how hard it can be to learn about scientific research in other fields, and I want to present my research in a way that it’s accessible to everyone!

Anjelica Guerrier smiling for the camera.

Anjelica Guerrier
Ph.D. student, Earth and Planetary Sciences
"Volcanoes? Who Cares?"
I'm a passionate researcher delving into the depths of Yellowstone's volcanic mysteries! 🌋 With a keen interest in deciphering the secrets of Earth's most enigmatic forces, I focus on unraveling the history preserved within ancient crystals from past eruptions. Through meticulous isotopic analysis, I seek to understand the interconnectedness and activity of the magma chamber beneath the Yellowstone supervolcano. This research journey isn't just about uncovering geological insights; it's about paving the way for better hazard prevention and mitigation strategies. Join me on this captivating journey into the heart of Yellowstone's fiery narrative and the quest for predictability in the face of nature's awe-inspiring power.

Erin Hisey smiling for the camera.

Erin Hisey
Ph.D. student, Integrative Pathobiology Graduate Group
"Stare Like a Rabbit"
In my project, I am studying a new fat based treatment for evaporative dry eye disease, a condition that affects both humans and animals around the world. I am studying how this treatment works by looking at how it interacts with the fat molecules of tears in the laboratory and in animals with dry eye disease to see if it would be an effective treatment. I am passionate about sharing my clinical research and information about clinical diseases with animal owners, so I am excited to participate in Grad Slam to practice those skills and to share my research with the UC Davis community.

Caleb Huntington doing research in the field.

Caleb Huntington
Ph.D. student, Integrative Pathobiology Graduate Group
"Cloudy with a Chance of Global Pandemics"
The world is not through with pandemics. In fact, they are only expected to become more common. My work aims to improve our methods for studying viruses in bats before they have the chance to spillover into humans. Come learn about bats, caves, and the jungles of Puerto Rico.

Tim Linke smiling at the camera.

Tim Linke
Ph.D. candidate, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
"From Big to Small: We Need It All"
The world we observe around us is often shaped by the smallest of interactions. An example of this is fusion energy, where the material flow can be intricately influenced by atomistic responses to the high energy conditions. From big to small, my research bridges these scales, using computational methods to develop a concurrent multiscale framework.

Sasha Neil Pimento smiling at the camera.

Sasha Neil Pimento
Master's student, Computer Science Graduate Group
"Opening Doors for Alzheimer's Disease Care"
My research tackles an important healthcare challenge – enabling those with Alzheimer's disease to live independently for longer periods. Under the guidance of my advisor, Dr. Alyssa Weakley, I am developing innovative applications that leverage modern technology to aid memory for intentions, facilitate long-distance caregiving and analyze disease progression. I am thrilled to share our work at Grad Slam and raise awareness about these interactive platforms, which have the potential to improve the quality of life for the millions affected by this debilitating condition.

Prabhash Ragbir smiling at the camera.

Prabhash Ragbir
Ph.D. student, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
"Firefight with Flight: How Drones Can Help Us Detect Wild Fires"
My research focuses on developing drones that can assist with early wildfire detection. The key idea is that the drones will utilize sensors to detect chemicals from the wildfire smoke and then utilize software to enable the drones to track these chemicals to their source, thus leading the drones to the potential wildfire location. The main goal is to detect wildfires when they are small enough to be more easily managed by fire officials.

Roshni Shetty smiling for the camera.

Roshni Shetty
Ph.D. student, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Group
"Sex, Drugs, and the Heartbeat"
I am passionate about understanding the intricacies of the human heart's electrical activity and molecular orchestration of rhythm. My research delves into sex-specific differences in cardiac electrophysiology, aiming to uncover the mechanistic basis for divergent arrhythmia susceptibility between sexes. Females are at increased risk of drug-related side effects and sudden cardiac death. However, female sex is underrepresented in basic research and clinical studies, and cardiac safety assessments often overlook these sex differences, leading to uniform medication prescriptions across sexes. To address this gap, we are developing a tool to predict female electrical activity responses to drugs based on male data, with the aim of enhancing cardiac safety assessments for females. But I'm not just crunching numbers in the lab – I am deeply committed to science communication, and I see Grad Slam as an excellent opportunity to shed light on the significance of my research and advocate for sex-inclusive fundamental and clinical studies and healthcare practices.

Additional Awards and Designations 

In addition to competing for the chance to participate in the UC competition in May, finalists at the April 12 event could earn the following awards:

  • First Place
  • Second Place
  • Third Place
  • People’s Choice Award
  • Public Impact Prize

People’s Choice Award

The People’s Choice Award is granted to the contestant who receives the most votes from members of the public who are either in attendance at the event or are watching via a livestream. The voting link will be shared following the presentations at the event in Walker Hall. 

Public Impact Prize
UC Davis Public Scholarship and Engagement will be awarding an additional prize to the student who best demonstrates how their research has or will have significant impact by addressing a public concern or topic.


Join Us!

Join us for the UC Davis semi-final round on Friday, April 12 from 1 - 4 p.m. at the Graduate Center at Walker Hall. Seating is limited, so RSVP soon.

To learn more about the UC Grad Slam happening on May 3, visit https://gradslam.universityofcalifornia.edu.