On Tuesday, April 9, eight Berkeley graduate students selected as semi-finalists competed in the annual Grad Slam competition. Each student presented their fascinating research in a manner accessible to the general public in a three-minute “mini TED talk”  – offering more than 300 virtual attendees from across the globe a truly educational experience. The event culminated with the announcement of 1st place, 2nd place, and the People’s Choice Award. 

Meet these three remarkable graduate students below:  

Victoria Chevee next to a slide of her research in her Grad Slam presentation

1st Place: Victoria Chevee

A Bacterium's Journey: From Guts to Brain

As the Campus Grad Slam Champion, Victoria Chevee will now move on to compete against the winners from the nine other UC campuses on May 3, 2024 at the UC systemwide competition. Victoria is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular and Cell Biology program. She is interested in microbes and how they interact with their hosts, particularly when it comes to pathogens. Her work currently focuses on bacterial replication and dissemination during infections that affect the brain. Watch Victoria talk about her research.

2nd Place: Matangi Kumar

The Eye Under Pressure: Novel Therapeutics to Treat Glaucoma

Matangi is a 3rd-year Ph.D. candidate in the Vision Science Graduate Program, conducting research in the Gronert and Flanagan labs and focusing on the study of neuroinflammation in glaucoma. With a father diagnosed with glaucoma, she is interested in studying the mechanisms of this neurodegenerative disease and is passionate about researching novel neurotherapeutic treatments to improve vision loss. Watch Matangi’s Grad Slam talk

People's Choice Award: Joel Rubio

Exposing the Public Health Crisis in Immigration Enforcement

Joel is a second-year MPH student with a concentration in Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health. As a first-generation, Spanish-speaking, Latine former foster youth, he aims to use his personal experiences to contribute to public health research, focusing on the critical issue of immigration enforcement and family separation. Having gone through this challenging experience himself, his research aims to understand the perception of immigration policies and how they impact the mental well-being of Latine adolescents. Learn more about Joel’s research

We wish to thank our distinguished panel of judges, Fiona Doyle, Wendy Tokuda, and Eric Stern, as well as the many audience members who weighed in on the People’s Choice Award.  We look forward to next year’s competition!

Interested in participating next year? Learn what it takes to join the competition.

Watch the full versions of these talks and the other semi-finalists’ presentations below:

Watch the 2024 Grad Slam