Cal Grad Slam Picks its Top Three and Prepares for UC-Wide Competition Published: April 15, 2015 By: Sarah McClure Elizabeth Bruns In March, dozens of graduate students from diverse academic programs presented three-minute synopses of their master’s or doctoral research project in the first round of the high-profile UC-wide Grad Slam competition. Earlier this month, a panel of Graduate Assembly judges narrowed down their selections to three semi-finalists: Elizabeth Bruns, Nicholas Errico, and Alexis Shusterman. Each student was awarded a $1,000 stipend. On April 17, all three semi-finalists will compete in the second round of the Berkeley selection process for a chance to be sent to the UC system-wide Grad Slam competition, which will be held in Oakland on May 4. Alexis Shusterman Ph.D. candidate Errico, who advanced to the second round after presenting his mechanical engineering project, was excited to participate in Grad Slam for an opportunity to represent Berkeley. “It was a great opportunity for me to get some quality experience presenting my research in front of an audience,” he said. Ph.D. candidate Shusterman, who also advanced to the second round, is focused on atmospheric chemistry. “Effective science communication is something I’m really passionate about, so I’m always looking for chances to hone my presentation and writing skills further,” she said. Nicholas Errico Master’s candidate Bruns is pursuing a combined degree at the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. She was surprised to learn she would advance to the next round. “The Grad Slam reminded me of the huge potential for camaraderie and collaboration all over campus,” she said. “I loved spending time with students in other departments, hearing about their work and sharing war stories and ideas.” As the competition nears, Cal students are encouraged to show their support for the Berkeley finalist by using social media with the hashtag #gradslam. Students and the community can livestream the Grad Slam competition from the University of California Office of the President website the day of the event.