Sam Pollock, who won the people’s choice award for the 2017 Grad Slam at UCSF contest, delivers his talk on antibody therapy for tumors that had an extended metaphor on doughnut glazes and the sprinkles that stick to them. Photo by Noah Berger

Wider Audience for Grad Slam


It's almost Grad Slam time again, and this year audiences for the raucous and lively event will be bigger than ever.

That’s because organizers are, for the first time, live streaming the contest to Parnassus from its home stage in Genentech Hall at Mission Bay.

This year, the 4th edition of the UCSF competition happens on Thursday, March 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. in Genentech Hall at Mission Bay. Room S-214 in the Medical Sciences at Parnassus will host the live stream, where attendees will have a chance to participate in the audience voting and enjoy refreshments.

Organized and sponsored by the Graduate Division, Grad Slam is a communications competition in which seven to 10 UCSF graduate students present their research in three minutes or less in front of a live audience using language we can all understand.

A panel of five judges and the audience will choose their favorites to win cash prizes.

Students had until Dec. 8, 2017 to enter this year’s event. The student who wins the 2018 Grad Slam contest will be awarded a $3,000 cash prize. The runner-up will receive $1,500, and the “people's choice” winner $750. The winner of the 2018 Grad Slam competition at UCSF will also be invited to compete in the UC system-wide Grad Slam event.

During last year’s third annual Grad Slam, biomedical sciences program graduate student Christina Hueschen took home the top prize for her presentation entitled “How to Build an Elephant.” She was able to provide a lively and informative talk on the formation of spindle structures, which ensure the correct separation of chromosomes in cell division.

Hueschen went on to represent UCSF at the systemwide Grad Slam held in San Francisco on May 4 last year. She earned an honorable mention in a face-off against 10 other competitors from UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Riverside, UC Merced, UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego.

Leslie Rith-Najarian from UCLA won for her presentation, “Making Mental Health More Engaging and Accessible.”