About Grad Slam

Grad Slam is an annual contest to communicate research. It aims to make research accessible by providing emerging scientists and scholars with the skills to engage the public in their work. Participants are judged on how well they engage the audience, how clearly they communicate key concepts and how effectively they focus and present their ideas—all in three minutes or less.

Each of UC’s 10 campuses holds local Grad Slam contests; the first place winners of each of those square off for the systemwide title,

Watch graduate student semi-finalists present their research in just 3 minutes!

We’re thrilled to announce that Adélaïde Bernard was awarded first place in the Berkeley Grad Slam for her presentation titled, “Hungry Unicorns: How Antennas in Your Neurons Control Appetite,” and then third place in the UC-wide championship competition as she represented Berkeley. Grad Slam is a UC-sponsored competitive speaking event designed to showcase graduate student research in three-minute talks pitched to a general audience.

Watch the UC Grad Slam event below:

UC Berkeley Semi-Finalists

Adelaide Bernard headshot

Adélaïde Bernard, Metabolic Biology

Hungry Unicorns: How Antennas in Your Neurons Control Appetite

A sixth-year PhD student from Belgium, Adélaïde studies how cells in our brain sense our energy status and modulate hunger and weight gain. Upon completing her PhD she will be looking for a postdoc focused on neuroscience. As a non-native English speaker, being part of this competition and getting to share her research to a broad audience is a very exciting challenge.


Neta Gotlieb, Psychology, Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Area

The Impact of Stress on Pregnancy

A final-year Ph.D. student from Israel, Neta currently studies the neural circuits and hormonal mechanisms underlying ovulation, pregnancy, and birth. After graduating she plans to pursue a career outside academia where she will solve challenges related to female reproductive health.

headshot of michelle

Michelle Phillips, Sociology

The System of Transnational Migrant Domestic Workers

A seventh-year Ph.D. student, Michelle identifies as a lifelong migrant. She wants to work in research and communications for human rights and social justice internationally, particularly seeking the best routes for reform regarding social policies, economics, and equity.

headshot of iemaan

Iemaan Rana, Environmental Health Sciences

From Chemicals to Chronic Disease: How Formaldehyde Exposure Can Lead to Neurodegenerative Disease and Brain Cancer

Iemaan is a first-year PhD student who is also attending medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. By integrating her fascination with environmentally-mediated disease and her commitment to serving those in need, she hopes to address poignant questions in both basic and translational research as a physician-scientist.

wren suess

Wren Suess, Astrophysics

Tons of Fuel, But No Fire

Wren is a sixth-year PhD student from Raleigh, North Carolina. Next year, she will continue studying the evolution of galaxies over cosmic time as a joint UC Santa Cruz – Stanford postdoctoral fellow. In addition to research and mentoring, Wren views outreach as a fundamental part of her job as a scientist.

aj white

AJ White, Anthropology

Making History from Poop

A fourth-year Ph.D. student from Laguna Niguel, California, AJ wants to teach and mentor the next generation of archaeologists, research the impacts of climate change on humans in novel and impactful ways, and engage the public to make informed decisions on the environment.

rachel woods-robinson

Rachel Woods-Robinson, Applied Science and Technology

Solar Searching: Clever Contacts to Combat Climate Change

A fifth-year Ph.D. student, Rachel believes complex challenges like climate change require that scientists collaborate on tech-based solutions, and also connect with the non-scientific community to develop trust-based solutions. Her research interests range from solar cells’ tiny crystal contacts to their societal impacts, and her career goal is to contribute to an equitable renewable energy transformation.

Watch the Full 2019 Berkeley Grad Slam

Check out the previous system-wide UC Grad Slam events and winners

Watch recordings of past Grad Slams and read about the winners on the University of California Grad Slam website: https://gradslam.universityofcalifornia.edu/past-winners/