Wednesday, April 3, 2019
3 – 5:30 pm
Sibley Auditorium
FREE and open to the public
The event will be livestreamed at

Everyone is invited to cheer on the ten graduate student Grad Slam semi-finalists as they present their three-minute research talks! Here are three great reasons to attend

  • Learn about interesting research projects: Berkeley is a top research university and these semi-finalists are up and coming in their fields. Discover potentially groundbreaking research that will make you more informed and maybe even spark ideas for your own research projects.
  • Your vote will be counted: While a panel of distinguished judges select the top two winners, audience members will have the opportunity to vote for a “people’s choice” winner. This means you can help decide which talks are the  best executed and capture he compelling research our campus has to offer!
  • You could be the 2020 champion! Have you considered applying to Grad Slam yourself? There’s no better way to prepare yourself for next year’s competition than to see this year’s semi-finalists in action!

The winner will represent Berkeley and compete in the UC-wide Grad Slam

The UC-wide event will be hosted by President Janet Napolitano at LinkedIn headquarters in San Francisco on May 10, 2019.

Grad Slam is a UC-sponsored competitive speaking event designed to showcase graduate student research in three-minute talks pitched to a general audience. This is a unique opportunity for graduate students who are engaged in substantive original research projects to develop skills communicating their academic research — while making their work visible to academic, media, and private and public sector leaders from across the state.

Congrats to the UC Berkeley Semi-finalists

The following semi-finalists have been selected to participate in the April 3, 2019 campus Grad Slam competition This year’s group represents once again a wide range of disciplines, including those in the humanities, social sciences, sciences, and engineering.


Yifan Li, Chemistry
The Fast Track through Photosynthesis

A fifth-year Ph.D. student from Rockville, Maryland, Yifan is planning to pursue career paths that will allow him to conduct innovative research on the interface between new technologies (especially energy generation, storage, and efficiency) and basic science.

Michael Nance, Ethnomusicology
Musical Tourism: Perceptions of Transnationalism Through Music

A first-year Ph.D. student from Highland Park, Illinois, Michael’s career goal is to become a professor. His work in ethnomusicology is highly interdisciplinary, with connections to the world of conflict resolution.


Sara Knutson


Sara Knutson, Scandinavian/Anthropology
The Archaeology of Cross-Cultural Interactions

Sara is a third-year student from Grand Rapids, Michigan with a background in museums and archeological fieldwork. After completing her Ph.D., she aims to pursue teaching and research, working with people around the world who have not previously had a voice in academic discourse.

Pierre-Valery Njenji Tchetgen


Pierre-Valery Njenji Tchetgen, Education
Drumball: Investigating Multimodal Meaning Production through Digital Drum Talk

Pierre-Valery is an eighth-year Ph.D. candidate from Cameroon and Ghana, who aims to make play-based learning available to teachers everywhere. He plans to pursue postdoctoral work, with the goal of helping ordinary teachers become extraordinary through the use of digital technology.

Jessica Heiges


Jessica Heiges, Development Practice

A second-year master’s student from Sonoma County, California, Jessica wants to make reusable foodware as convenient as disposable foodware. By participating in Grad Slam, she hopes to teach people across campus about their role in creating a sustainable food system.

Chandan Singh


Chandan Singh, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
Interpreting Models for Safe and Accountable Machine Learning

Chandan is a second-year Ph.D. student from Virginia who wants to help make modern algorithms safer for general use, particularly in the context of science and medicine. He plans to pursue careers in academia or industry in machine learning research.

Nancy Freitas


Nancy Freitas, Energy and Resources Group
Microbes in the Arctic 

A first year master’s student from Tucson, Arizona, Nancy hopes to mobilize people to take action on climate change. She plans to pursue a career in policy development, outreach, and education, focusing on climate change communication.

Laura Fouquette


Laura Fouquette, Public Health
Homelessness and Health Equity in the Bay Area

Laura is a master’s student from San Diego, California who is starting a career in healthcare, and will soon be relocating to Berlin, Germany for an internship in digital health innovation and technology. She is interested in pursuing a Ph.D.

richard barnes


Richard Barnes, Energy and Resources Group/Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences
Fixing’ Gerrymandering 

A fourth-year Ph.D. student from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Richard is committed to making communication an integral part of the scientific process. He is currently exploring academic positions and postdocs in computational science.


QinQin Yu, Physics
Uncovering Fundamental Principles of Evolution through Laboratory Experiments

QinQin is a third-year Ph.D. student from Columbia, Missouri who uses quantitative approaches to understand complex biological systems. She plans to pursue a career that combines scientific research with contributions to data-driven science policy decisions.