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2020 GradSLAM! Competition

What is GradSLAM!?

We already know that you are working hard to find answers to the world’s most important and pressing research questions. But can you distill your research into the key ’sound bites’ that will be necessary to convey its importance, usefulness, and timeliness to others outside your field — like faculty hiring committees, professionals, administrators, lawmakers, co-workers, friends…even your parents?

Grad Slam is a UC systemwide competition that provides you with a forum to explain the methods, results, and significance of your research via a three-minute presentation to a non-specialty audience and panel of judges.

As a participant, you will be challenged to practice and perfect your answer to the inevitable question, “What is your research about?” Along the way, you will improve your presentation and PowerPoint skills, learn more about the research your fellow graduate students are doing here at UC Merced, and compete for some great prizes.

2020 GradSLAM! Schedule

**Please note that dates are subject to change - please stay informed by checking our site regularly for updates.

January 29, 2020 - GradSLAM! Information Session

February 19, 2020 - GradSLAM! Effective Visual Presentations Workshop 

February 19, 2020 - Registration Deadline by 5 p.m.

February 26, 2020 - GradSLAM! Effective Oral Presentations Workshop

March 13, 2020 - Qualifying Round Powerpoint Presentations due to Graduate Division by noon (12 p.m.) (email **Late PP presentations will not be accepted and will disqualify you from the competition. 

March 18, 2020 - GradSLAM! Qualifying Rounds 

April 13, 2020 - Final Round Powerpoint Presentations due to Graduate Division by 10 a.m.

April 16, 2020 - GradSLAM! Campus Final Round

May 8, 2020 - GradSLAM! UCOP Finals -  LinkedIn SF, see the main UC Grad Slam website

Register Here for GradSLAM! 2020

Congratulations to Our 2019 GradSLAM! Finalists!

2019 Grad Slam Finalists

Here are our top 12 Grad Slam! Finalists (listed alphabetically by last name)

Jourjina Alkhouri, Quantitative and Systems Biology

Shayna Bennett, Applied Math

Anh Diep, Quantiative and Systems Biology

Mohammadkazem Ebrahimpour, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Craig Ennis, Quantiative and Systems Biology

Stefanie Helmrich, Environmental Systems

Christine Hoffman, Applied Mathematics

Carmen Kho, Psychological Sciences

Karen Mohammadtabar, Mechanical Engineering

Genevieve Mullins, Quantitative and Systems Biology

Zachary Petrek, Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Joshua Semerjian, Interdisciplinary Humanities

Dean Zatz, Associate Dean Kello, and the Graduate Division staff would like to congratulate the finalists and all the Grad Slam participants. Communicating your research in three minutes is not easy, and we know that preparing for the competition takes lot of time and effort. We are proud of all the contestants!


More than a competition,Grad Slam is a celebration of the accomplishments of our graduate students. The top ten qualifiers receive $250*, the opportunity to attend a luncheon with Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education Marjorie Zatz, and one-on-one coaching with speaking professionals.

The first place winner of the Grad Slam Finals will receive $5,000* and the honor of representing UC Merced at the University of California systemwide Grad Slam competition in late April. The second place winner will receive $,1500* and the third place winner will receive $500*.

Grad Slam Rules

  1. GradSLAM! Rules:

    1. Your presentations should be saved in PowerPoint (PPT) format. All presentations must be saved as "firstname_lastname_GradSlam19" and emailed to by 10am on Monday, April 15, 2019. Note that presentation materials are optional but strongly encouraged.

    2. You may only use PowerPoint slides (no Prezi or other presentation formats). You may have a maximum of 4 slides total: (1) Title Slide with your name, graduate program, and the title of your presentation, and (3) Presentation Slides.

    3. All work on the slides must be original to the student and cannot be generated by a professional.

    4. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any descriptions are allowed.

    5. Embedded audio and videos within your Powerpoint slides are permitted and those files may be animated (may be subject to prior approval from Graduate Division).

    6. Props such as costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment, etc. are permitted with prior approval from Graduate Division. Any props should require minimal set-up and not produce a mess.

    7. Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).

    8. Presentations must be conducted from the stage.

    9. The presentation time will commence from the moment the presenter starts talking and/or making sounds or movements that are clearly part of the presentation. Timing will commence from the moment the student begins her/his presentation. The presentation begins at the moment the student engages with the audience (if s/he starts with a hand clap, a gesture, an audio or video clip or any other such engagement, prior to speaking, the clock begins at that time; if there is no such engagement the clock starts when the student begins speaking). Points will be deducted from the final score, beginning with one point at 3:03, and one point being taken off for every two seconds the speaker continues after that.

    11. The research being presented must be related to your own graduate research at UC Merced.

    12. Students invited to participate in the UC Merced final round or the systemwide final competition must present on the same subject matter.

    13. Graduate Division runs 'GradSLAM! on the Road' events to increase awareness about UC Merced research, to reach out to potential donors or donor groups interested in supporting graduate education, and to help students network with industry professionals interested in their work. Finalists will be asked to volunteer for one or more of these events during the year following the competition (if schedules permit).

    14. The decision of the panel of judges is final. In the event of a tie, there will be a tiebreaker vote by competition officials.

    Thank you again for volunteering, we truly appreciate the help.

Past Winners

Check out some of our past winners and their videos. 

Presentation Examples

  1. Video from past years's UCOP Grad Slam Finals
  2. UC San Diego 2014 Grad Slam
  3. UC Santa Barbara 2014 Grad Slam Finals
  4. Winning Presentations from around the world

Helpful Resources

  1. The Secret to Giving a Great TED Talk
  2. Making the most of your 3-minute presentation
  3. TED Talks
  4. 10 Most Common Rookie Mistakes in Public Speaking
  5. Top Ten Tips for Writing and Delivering Very Brief Speeches

More Presentation Resources are available here.

*All prizes are awarded in the form of a one-time fellowship after the completion of the competition.