2022 Grad Slam

The 2022 Berkeley Grad Slam took place Monday April 11 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. below. During the campus competition, Berkeley graduate students showcased their research in a series of three-minute talks. (Think mini Ted Talks.) Watch the recording below to see the competition in full.

Congratulations to the winners: first-place winner, Justin Lee, second-place winner, Kimberly Burke and People’s Choice Award winner, Teena Bajaj.

As the Berkeley first-place winner, Justin Lee will advance to compete against the other UC finalists at the UC-wide competition in May. Go Bears!

Watch the UC Grad Slam event below

UC Berkeley Semi-Finalists

Justin Lee headshot

Justin Lee, Metabolic Biology, Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology (First-Place Winner)

Jamming the SARS-CoV-2 Copy Machine

A third-year PhD student from the Bay Area, Justin is fascinated by the evolving world around us and the Covid-19 pandemic is no exception. As a metabolic biologist turned coronavirologist, Justin explores the synergy between disease biology and clinical medicine with hopes of solving the challenges of the pandemic and developing effective therapeutics against the virus.

Kimberly Burke headshot

Kimberly Burke, Sociology (Second-Place Winner)

Passive Resistance and Forceful De-escalation: The Structural Determinants of Police Violence

Kimberly Cecilia Burke is a fifth-year doctoral student in UC Berkeley’s Department of Sociology. Her research includes policing, inequality, and state violence and is grounded in feminist ethics of love, mutuality, and respect. As a scholar-activist, Kimberly seeks to dismantle “us versus them” attitudes, challenge anti-Black racism, and build equitable solutions for the problems inherent in carceral institutions.

Teena Bajaj

Teena Bajaj, Comparative Biochemistry (People's Choice Award)

Discovering an Antiviral Drug against Papain-like Protease (PLpro) from SARS-CoV-2

A fifth-year international PhD student from India, Teena would like to be an independent fellow in the field of translational sciences where she could merge basic sciences with clinical sciences. Being able to contribute to human health sciences and convey her research effectively in front of a diverse audience has been her dream and goal since she joined her graduate program, so she is very happy and excited to be able to take part in Grad Slam in the last year of her program.

Tanja Kovacevic

Tanja Kovacevic, Earth & Planetary Science

A Song of Rock and Ice

Tanja is a second-year PhD student who studies how materials pertinent to planetary interiors interact in extreme conditions to elucidate the evolution of planets. Upon completing her PhD, she hopes to continue studying planetary science as a postdoctoral fellow. Tanja is a refugee and a first-generation college student, so she also finds it imperative to continue her mentorship and outreach efforts as she progresses throughout her career.

Sarah Harris

Sarah Harris, German

Linguistic Causes and Social Effects: The Generic Masculine in English and German
Sarah (she/her) is an eighth-year PhD candidate from Michigan. With a background in linguistics, Sarah’s research examines the social effects of gender in language and how differences between English and German affect their speakers.
Jamie Simon

Jamie Simon, Physics

Illuminating the Black Box of Machine Learning

Jamie is a third-year PhD student from Virginia whose research aims to build a fundamental theoretical understanding of machine learning so that it might be better used to solve the world’s problems. His background is in physics, and he sees learning algorithms as little universes whose properties we can probe and understand. Outside of research, he enjoys science communication, running, and balancing things.

Chandan Singh

Chandan Singh, Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences

Unlocking Scientific Secrets by Distilling Neural Networks

Chandan is a fifth and final-year PhD student in computer science. He hopes to build on recent advances in machine learning to improve the world of healthcare. His research focuses on how to interpret machine-learning models with the goal of ensuring that they can be reliably used when someone’s health is at stake.

Sophia Steffens

Sophia Steffens, Chemistry

PFAS is a Four-Letter Word

Sophia is a fifth-year Chemistry PhD candidate interested in all matters relating to chemistry and the environment. When she’s not working with water contaminants, she can be found engaging in any number of water activities, including swimming and surfing in the cold California oceans. After finishing her PhD, Sophia plans to work at the USDA to develop novel materials from agricultural by-products.

Ryan Lundell Creagh

Ryan Lundell-Creagh, Psychology

What's a Sport Without Fans? Investigating the Home Team Advantage during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ryan is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Social and Personality psychology who is originally from Montreal, Quebec. His main research focuses on the interactions between personality and emotion, and contextual influences on personality expression and measurement. Ryan also has a strong passion for music and all things sports related and is excited to share in his talk the results of a project which stemmed from this passion.

Coleman Thompson

Coleman Thompson, Civil & Environmental Engineering

No Salt, No Problem: Genetic Algorithms for Cost-Optimization of Solar Desalination Plants

Coleman is a first-year MEng student studying Environmental Engineering, focusing on systems and data science. He is interested in renewable energy policy, project design, and optimization, and hopes to continue his work on the solar desalination project with Optony, Inc after he graduates this spring.