Supporting Graduate Students' Academic and Professional Success
Grad Slam 2017
Making your research matter to both other academics and your community is one of the most important professional skills to develop as a graduate student. The GradSlam is an opportunity to practice articulating your research’s importance in an engaging way that makes sense to others while competing for prizes!
Graduate Division awarded the best 3-minute talk by a UCR graduate student about his/her research or creative project with a $5,000 fellowship. Graduate Division also awarded the following fellowships: $2,000 to the 1st runner-up, $1,000 to the 2nd runner up, $1,000 to the audience’s choice, and $100 each to up to 8 honorable mentions. The grand prize winner advanced to the University of California, Office of the President (UCOP) GradSlam Finals and competed for a chance to win an additional $6,000 fellowship! Financial aid rules apply to all prizes.
View the Grad Slam Awards Ceremony
First Prize: Nathan Horrell, Neuroscience, “Neuroscience of parental care: why do people love their children?”
Audience Choice: Nicole Olweean, Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts, “Writing of Witness: Printing Syrian Refugee Voices in the West”
First Runner-Up: Dietlinde Heilmayr, Psychology, “Growing Healthy Humans”
Second Runner-Up: Lorena Villanueva-Almanza, Botany and Plant Sciences, “What we thought we knew about the iconic palms of Hollywood”
Honorable Mention: Elenis Avila Lovera, Organismal Biology, “Do woody plants with photosynthetic stems respond differently to climate change?”
Honorable Mention: Chloe Cole, Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts, “Thrill Kill: Live! : Violence Against Women in Media”
Honorable Mention: Lauren Conroy, Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, “Social Signals Affect Reproductive Investment in Crickets”
Honorable Mention: Lydia Elias, Physics and Astronomy, “Stellar Halos: Tracing a Galaxy’s Evolution with Simulations”
Honorable Mention: Kirin McCrory, Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts, “Representation Matters: Seeing is More Than Believing”
Honorable Mention: Alex Rajewski, Plant Biology, “A Family Divided: Evolution of Dry and Fleshy Fruit in Nightshades”
Honorable Mention: Jesus Rivera, Material Science and Engineering, “The Ironclad beetle: Nature’s Tough Composite”
First Prize: Jozi Pearson, Geology, “Earthquake Behavior Along the Alpine Fault, New Zealand”
Tara Fetherolf, Physics and Astronomy, “Galaxy Mosaics: Probing the Hidden Starlight”
Samantha Levell, Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, “Illuminating Maternal Investment through Artificial Insemination”
Jaimie Stewart, Bioengineering, “RNA Nanotechnology: Building Blocks for Personalized Medicine”
Junchao Wang, Bioengineering, “Automating the Design of Next Generation Biochip”
Here is an overview of the different facets of Grad Slam from judges, to eligibility, support, and prizes. Click on the category you are interested in.
Mayor Rusty Bailey, Mayor of Riverside
Bailey attended West Point, where he earned a degree in Political Science. He then served as a helicopter pilot in the United States Army, a Platoon leader, and a Company Executive Officer. Upon leaving the military, he started the process of pursuing a meaningful career in public service. During his career, he worked for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Executive Office of the President, and the Riverside County Economic Development Agency. He returned to school to pursue a Master’s in Public Policy from UCLA and a teaching credential from CSU San Bernardino. In 2007, he was elected to serve as the City Council representative for Ward 3 and in 2012 was elected Mayor.
Craig Blunden, Chairman and CEO, Provident Savings Bank
Mr. Craig G. Blunden has been the Chief Executive Officer of Provident Savings Bank since 1991. Mr. Blunden has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Provident Financial Holdings, Inc. since its formation in 1996. He has been Associated with Provident Savings Bank since 1974. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership and the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce. He serves as a Director of American Bankers Association. He has been a Director of Provident Financial Holdings Inc., since 1975. He serves as a Director of The Riverside Economic Development Corporation and ABA Business Solutions Inc. He has been a Director of Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco since January 1, 2012.
Mitch Boretz, Technical Communication Specialist, UC Riverside
Mitch Boretz has more than 20 years of experience writing and managing proposals for research and education projects in the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. He participates in the preparation of more than 500 proposals per year to government agencies, industry sponsors, and foundations. He is a Fellow of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. Mitch has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and worked as a writer and editor in the newspaper industry for nearly 15 years.
Alicia Brotchie, Account Manager, Corning Inc Life Sciences
Alicia Brotchie works for Corning Life Sciences as an Account Manager. She covers multiple counties in Southern California and also Arizona. She has worked for Corning for 7 years and in the science sales industry for 12 years. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2002. She now resides in Redlands and has two children, aged five and seven.
Peter Byrley, 2016 UCOP Grad Slam Winner and UCR Chemical and Environmental Engineering PhD Candidate
Peter Byrley is the winner of the 2016 UC Wide Grad Slam Competition. Originally from Buffalo, NY, he is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department at UCR and the Office of Sustainability Liaison to the Graduate Student Association. He currently does research in flexible electronics at the nanoscale using atomically thin materials, is heavily involved with promoting sustainability and is creator of the GSA Green Grants (G3) program for sustainable projects at UCR. He has also had some other high profile speaking engagements including the UC’s 2016 Innovation Day and will be the MC for UCR’s Earth Day celebration. He sees academic research as a wondrous look into the fundamentals of the currently unknown and is very excited to see what students have to offer in this year’s Grad Slam competition.
Dr. Allison Cantwell, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Institutional Research, UCR
Dr. Allison Cantwell is Assistant Vice Chancellor of Institutional Research at UC Riverside. Institutional Research is responsible for providing official campus data to campus leadership, stakeholders, and the public. Her office collaborates with a variety of academic departments and offices to provide insightful data analysis in support of student success efforts on and off campus. Allison also serves as UC Riverside’s Data Lead for the University Innovation Alliance, a coalition of 11 public research universities nationwide that strives to promote student success for low-income and first-generation student populations. She is co-chair of the data committee for the Growing Inland Achievement initiative which seeks to increase college preparedness, college completion, and career preparation for students in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Allison is a Chicagoland native and one of the few Midwestern transplants who misses the snow. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Riverside, where her research focused on the undergraduate student experience, student success, and social psychology.
Chief Sergio Diaz, Riverside Chief of Police
Chief Sergio Diaz came to Riverside in July 2010, after spending over thirty-three years with the Los Angeles Police Department in various positions. From his humble beginnings as a refugee immigrant and his decades of experience in law enforcement, Chief Diaz gained a realistic understanding of the value of community support systems and places the highest value on critical thinking and creative problem-solving to proactively prevent and resolve crime and quality of life issues. Since becoming Chief of the Riverside Police Department, he has focused on reducing crime, enhancing the Department’s relationship with the communities it serves, developing personnel to ever higher standards of service, and achieving greater efficiencies in the delivery of police services. His insight into leadership, mentoring, and education has made him a sought-after speaker at community meetings, commencement exercises, leadership forums, and criminal justice programs. Chief Diaz earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration from California State University, Los Angeles, while working full-time as a patrol officer. He subsequently completed a Master’s in Public Administration and Policy at California State University, Long Beach and a certificate in Criminal Justice Education with the FBI National Academy.
Diane Elton, President, International Relations Council of Riverside
Diane Elton is the Director (Retired) of UC Riverside’s former International Education Center. She has served as a reviewer for juried sessions, posters and publications for NAFSA: Association of International Educator, and has reviewed scholarship and opportunity applications for international agencies of Japan and the United States. Currently, Diane serves as Board Secretary for the World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California and President of the International Relations Council of Riverside. Nationally, she is serving on the Membership Engagement Committee of her professional association which includes career center oversight and resume mentoring.
Dr. Kathleen Feeley, Associate Professor of History, University of Redlands
Dr. Kathleen Feeley is Associate Professor of History at the University of Redlands, specializing in modern U.S. history, gender, and media and popular culture. She is author of Mary Pickford: Hollywood and the New Woman and co-editor of When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in United States History. Professor Feeley is currently at work on a book about the Hollywood Press Corps in the mid-twentieth century. She received her Ph.D. from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York in 2004.
Dr. Anna Finn, Special Assistant to the Provost, UC Riverside
Dr. Anna Finn is the Special Assistant to the Provost at UC Riverside, where she manages a range of special projects, particularly those related to faculty leadership and diversity practices in faculty hiring. She earned her PhD in English from UC Irvine where her re search focused on historical prosody and temporality in 19th- and 20th-poetry. During her degree, she worked as a graduate student researcher at UCHRI and focused on diverse career training for humanities graduate students.
Jay Goth, Managing Partner, Forentis Fund
Jay Goth is an entrepreneurial veteran, having worked in a variety of industries, including hospitality, energy, real estate, insurance, finance and technology. He is currently Managing Partner with the Forentis Fund, a $50 million special purpose fund dedicated to saving lives and reducing human suffering by speeding new medical innovations to market. He has also been the founding executive of Commonwealth Energy, founder and principal of Redtail Capital, executive director of the entrepreneur-focused nonprofit InSoCal CONNECT, and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at UCR. Recently the Small Business Administration honored Jay as the 2016 Small Business Champion of the year for his many years of service to the startup and entrepreneur community.
Patrick Guevara, Attorney at Law, Randick O’Dea & Tooliatos LLP
Brian Hawley, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of Luminex
Brian N. Hawley is Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of Luminex. Luminex received the Spirit of the Entrepreneur award in technology, the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Small Business Eagle award, and honored as a California Small Business of the Year. Prior to co-founding Luminex, Hawley owned and managed Computer Systems International, a consulting firm specializing in corporate business computing and software development. Hawley has served on the Riverside’s High Tech Task Force, is past chairman and a founding member of the Riverside Technology CEO Forum, a past chair of the Science Technology Education Partnership, a recipient of the UCR Bourns College of Engineering Honored Alumni Award, serves on the UCR SoBA Deans Advisory council, served on the CBU Board of Visitors, received the California Chamber of Commerce Small Business Advocate of the Year, Vice President of the Fox Theater Foundation, past chair and current board member of the Science Technology Education Partnership, Chair of the Riverside ExCITE Technology Incubator, Vice President of the Monday Morning group and Chair of the Monday Morning Group’s education committee, past chair of the Board for the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, a UCR Foundation Trustee, and Chair of their Governmental Advocacy Committee. Hawley holds Bachelor and Master of Science Degrees in Computer Science from the University of California, Riverside, and is a long time resident of Riverside with his wife Vickie.
Gladis Herrera-Berkowitz, Director of Student Success Programs, UC Riverside
Gladis Herrera-Berkowitz is the Director of Student Success Programs in Undergraduate Education. In her role she supports student involvement in undergraduate research, prestigious scholarships and awards, the UCR Undergraduate Research Journal, Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the Chancellor’s Research Fellowship program. During her tenure at UCR Gladis has also served as the Director of University Honors, Director of Instructional Development, and Assistant Director of the CNAS Graduate Student Affairs Center. Gladis earned her B.A. in Political Science from UC Davis and an M.A. in History from the University of San Diego.
Graham Juby, Director, Carollo Engineering
Graham Juby has 34 years of experience in planning, evaluating, testing and designing advanced treatment technologies for water and wastewater treatment applications, with an emphasis on water reuse, desalting and brine treatment. He obtained his chemical engineering degree from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. in water utilization engineering from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is a Vice President with Carollo Engineers Inc., and is a member of several organizations including AWWA and WEF. He is a register Civil Engineer in California and Texas.
Harry Kurani, Founder and CEO, JHK Distribution, Inc.
Mr. Kurani is the Founder and CEO of JHK Distribution Inc., a company that specializes in water treatment chemicals, renewable energy technologies, and installations. Mr. Kurani currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the UC Riverside Foundation and as a member of CNAS Board of Advisors. Mr.Kurani received his Masters in Chemistry at the University of Mumbai. He is the father of UCR alumni Ravi Kurani, Class of 2009 and Shrina Kurani, Class of 2013. Both graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Bourns College of Engineering.
Gabriel Maldonado, Executive Director, TruEvolution
Gabriel Maldonado is the founder and executive director of TruEvolution, a Ryan White-funded HIV/AIDS service organization that works with high-risk and underserved youth populations in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. TruEvolution focuses on community organizing efforts, prevention services, and improving access to care for those living with HIV/AIDS through a holistic and humanizing approach. Gabriel serves on the Human Relations Commission for the City of Riverside and is Vice-Chair of the Ryan White HIV Planning Council for the Inland Empire Transitional Grant Area (TGA). He is also a member of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Board of Directors as well as the Janssen Pharmaceutical and Viiv Healthcare HIV Advisory Boards, and serves on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, where he is currently Co-Chair of the Disparities Committee. He received his MBA from UC Riverside.
Steven Mandeville-Gamble, Chief Administrator, UC Riverside Library
As University Librarian, Steven Mandeville-Gamble is the chief administrator for the UCR Library, envisioning and leading its mission to meet the needs of UCR on its path to preeminence. He came from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where he served as Associate University Librarian for Collections and Scholarly Communication since 2007. Prior to that, he held positions in special collections at George Washington University, North Carolina State University, and Stanford University. He holds an M.L.I.S. from UC Berkeley, an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a B.A. in anthropology from Stanford University. Steven joined the University of California, Riverside as the ninth University Librarian on March 1, 2013.
Debby Miller, Sales Representative, Thermo Fisher Scientific
Debby Miller started her career at UCLA doing research on obesity, later moving to Neonatology where she worked on Infant respiratory distress syndrome. Then at California State University, Fullerton she was responsible for three stockrooms, two in Chemistry and one in Biochemistry, which is where she developed her interest in sales. Now at Fisher Scientific, she enjoys getting to walk into a different lab every day, learn what the researchers are doing, and find solutions to their unique problems.
Amit Munshi, Director, President, and CEO, Arena Pharmaceuticals
Amit Munshi has served as a the President and CEO of Arena Pharmaceuticals since May 2016. Previously, Mr. Munshi served as President and CEO and director of Epirus Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. from May 2012-2016. Prior to Epirus, Mr. Munshi served as CEO of Percivia LLC, a biotechnology company, from 2011 to 2012, was a co-founder and served as Chief Business Officer of Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. from 2005 to 2010, and held multiple leadership positions at Amgen Inc. from 1997 to 2005, including General Manager, Nephrology Europe. Mr. Munshi has more than 25 years of global biopharmaceutical industry experience in executive management, business development, product development, and portfolio management. Mr. Munshi serves on the boards of Oxeia Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. and Cytrellis Biosystems, Inc. both privately held companies.
Dr. Daniel Neverisky, University Sales Associate, VWR Labs
Dr. Daniel Neverisky is a research enthusiast and current UCR account manager with VWR, the leading global, independent provider of products, services and solutions to laboratory and production facilities in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, industrial, education, government, and healthcare industries. In 2016, Dan completed his PhD in cardiovascular elect rophysiology with a focus on membrane protein interactions from the University of California, Irvine.
Drew Oberjuerge, Executive Director, Riverside Art Museum
Drew Oberjuerge has been the Executive Director of the Riverside Art Museum since 2013. Under her leadership, the museum has doubled its budget, received major grants from the Irvine Foundation and from the Getty Foundation as part of its Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA program, and has opened ambitious new shows such as works on paper from the collection of Cheech Marin. A native of the Inland Empire, she has previously worked with significant art institutions such as LACMA, and created an arts-for-wellness program for Jefferson Transitional Programs in Riverside. Drew received her BA in Italian Literature and Political Science from UCSD and her Master’s in Public Administration from USC.
Charlotte Ransom McKenzie, Realtor, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Charlotte Ransom McKenzie has a rich familiarity with the city of Riverside, which she uses daily as a top selling Realtor®. Charlotte and her mother, Connie Ransom, are the Ransom-McKenzie Team at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. A graduate of Scripps College in Claremont, Charlotte received a BA in International Relations and Japanese. Subsequently she has worked in tourism, hospitality and education. In 2005 Charlotte and her husband Bob decided to return to Riverside to settle in the home she grew up in. Since returning to Riverside, Charlotte has become involved with the robust local community she knew well from her younger years. Charlotte is currently the Chair of the Citizens University Committee and is also on local theater boards. As a graduate of Leadership Riverside she enjoys sharing her in-depth knowledge of Riverside with new clients and friends as we all work together to better our community.
Connie Ransom, Broker Associate, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Connie Ransom has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture. She has exhibited and taught throughout Southern California including UCR, Pomona College, University of Redlands and various arts institutions from LA to Pasadena and Riverside. Connie and her husband Roger owned an art gallery for 10 years in Riverside where Connie directed exhibitions of artists from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Connie has been an advocate for the arts in the Inland Empire.
Tobin Sloane, CFO, Ware Malcomb
Mr. Sloane is CFO of Ware Malcomb, a leading national design firm, providing planning, architectural, interior design, graphic design and civil engineering services to commercial real estate and corporate clients throughout the world. Established in 1972, the firm has 17 offices throughout the United States and Toronto, Panama City, and Mexico City. As the CFO since 2004, Mr. Sloane is an accomplished financial professional and business-savvy leader, bringing over 21 years of experience in financial analytics, accounting, management and operational leadership. He is well known for his strategic and innovative approach to the company’s financial management and growth, with a strong commitment to fiscal discipline to ensure the overall health of the firm. He holds a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance and Accounting and a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in Business Administration, both from the University of California, Riverside.
Victor E. Tolan, CEO and President, B&K Precision
Victor Tolan defected from communist Romania in 1978 to France and worked for General Motors as a Research and Development Engineer. In the U.S., he worked for Beckman Instruments in California as a research engineer and then as director of Marketing & Sales for a division of ITT. In 1996, he acquired B&K Precision Corporation in Chicago. B&K Precision is an established, large distribution channel and was a well-recognized brand in the U.S. He relocated the company to California, and moved its manufacturing to Taiwan. From 1998 to 2015 the company grew through mergers, acquisitions and organic growth. It now has factories in Nanjing, China; Taipei, Taiwan; and St. Etienne, France, as well as offices in Yorba Linda.
Christine Victorino, Associate Chancellor, UC Riverside
Christine Victorino is Associate Chancellor, and former Assistant Vice Provost in the Office of Undergraduate Education, at UCR. She previously held administrative leadership and academic development roles at Pitzer College, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Stanford, and universities in Canada. She earned her Ph.D. in education at UC Santa Barbara and also holds a master’s degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Toronto and Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.
Dr. Paul Wendee, Chair of the Graduate School of Business and Management, Argosy University
Dr. Paul Wendee is the Department Chair of the Graduate School of Business and Management and the College of Arts and Sciences at the Orange Campus of Argosy University. He has been an investment banker, securities analyst, and private equity fund manager for 35 years. He is the Managing Director of Paul M. Wendee & Associates, LLC, a corporate finance, private equity, and management consulting firm. He is the creator and developer of value driver theory, which is a new way of understanding and strategically thinking about business. Dr. Wendee is a successful entrepreneur and management consultant and teaches courses in business, investments, economics, and finance to university students, MBA students, entrepreneurs, and business managers. Dr. Wendee also founded the Value Driver Institute and Research and Educational Expedition Programs (VDI/REEP), a non-profit organization with a mission to conduct research on enterprise value driver theory and the enterprise value creation process; and to take the business incubator concept to places in the world where business incubators are not commonly found, but where they are needed the most.
Joe Zoba, General Manager, Yucaipa Valley Water District
Joesph Zoba has served as the General Manager of the Yucaipa Valley Water District since 1994. In this role, Mr. Zoba oversees a staff of about sixty employees that provide drinking water, recycled water, and sewer services to a population of ~50,000 people. Over the past two decades, Mr. Zoba led the Yucaipa Valley Water District through the design and construction of a regional drinking water filtration facility; nutrient and mineral removal facilities at the wastewater treatment plant; a regional recycled water system; and a brine disposal system. These facilities proved a fully integrated infrastructure system that is used to efficiently manage the water re sources of the Yucaipa Valley. Mr. Zoba is a graduate of UCR with a BS in Biochemistry and a Masters’s degree in Business Administration. He also has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from CSU San Bernardino.
Eligibility and Participation
All eligible UCR graduate students are invited to apply to participate in GradSlam. To be eligible participants must:
- Be registered as full-time graduate students in good standing
- Be no more than one year beyond normative time
- Submit a completed online application to participate
- Attend one GradSlam orientation and sign the video release
- Be available to present during one preliminary round, the UCR Finals, and the UCOP Finals (students may not miss class to present in a preliminary round)
- Upload PowerPoint in accordance with guidelines onto the competition computer during one of the approved upload dates
- Not have been selected as a UCR Grad Slam winner previously and not have been selected as a UCR Grad Slam 1st Runner-Up, UCR 2nd Runner-Up, or UCR Audience Choice Grad Slam winner in the 2016 competition.
The orientations will all be held in LFSC 1425 and are:
Tuesday, February 28th, 10:10-11:00am
Tuesday, February 28th, 2:10-3:00pm
Wednesday, March 1st, 12:10-1:00pm
Thursday, March 2nd, 12:10-1:00pm
Thursday, March 2nd, 2:10-3:00pm
Application and Contestant Selection
The online application will be available beginning Monday, January 30th at 8:00am. Applicants will be selected and scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be accepted through Wednesday, February 22nd at 12pm.
For your application, please prepare:
- Your tentative projected presentation title
- A brief description of your presentation (no more than 3-4 sentences, does not have to be finalized)
- Your availability for the orientations
All those who attend orientation will then be invited to indicate their availability for the Preliminary rounds.
Grad Slam Presentation, Evaluation Criteria, and Prizes
Presentations can be no longer than 3 minutes. Contestants will have only a 3 second “grace period” after the 3 minutes have elapsed. Contestants may use a PowerPoint presentation with up to three slides. Powerpoints may include embedded audio or video but may not include animation. The judges will evaluate the presentations according to the following criteria:
- Clear and effective presentation
- Accessible to a general audience
- Foregrounds research’s intellectual significance
The prizes are all fellowships and regular rules of financial aid apply:
- UCOP Grand Prize: $6,000
- UCOP First Runner-Up: $3,000
- UCOP Second Runner Up: $1,000
- UCR Grand Prize: $5,000
- UCR First Runner-Up: $2,000
- UCR Second Runner-Up: $1,000
- Audience Choice Award: $1,000
- Up to 7 Honorable Mentions: $100
Professional Development Opportunities
Grad Slam represents an important professional development opportunity. Students have the opportunity to hone their skills in public speaking to broad audiences and PowerPoint preparation. To help students prepare, GradSuccess is offering the following workshops:
Tuesday, February 21st, 2:10-3:00 (LFSC 1425)
Preparing for an Effective Poster Presentation
Grad Slam Contestant Feedback Sessions