Grad Slam 2018

Making your project matter to both other academics and your community is one of the most important professional skills to develop as a graduate student. Grad Slam 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 a $5,000 fellowship. This winner advances to the UCOP Finals for a chance to win another $6,000 fellowship. 

Graduate Division also awarded the following fellowships: $2,000 to the first runner-up, $1,000 to the second runner-up, $1,000 to the audience’s choice, $100 to each of up to 8 honorable mentions, and $500 to a poster presenter at the finals. Financial aid rules apply to all prizes. 

2018 Winners 

First Prize: Jessica Noll, Biomedical Sciences, “A Rapid Blood Test for Stroke” 

Audience Choice: Anqi Yu, Materials Science and Engineering, “Mechanical Properties of Nanocrystalline Bioresorbable Fe-Mn Alloy” 

First Runner-Up: Maxwell Grossnickle, Physics, “‘Spin’-tronics: the Next Generation of Computing” 

Second Runner-Up: Krista Skorupski, Creative Writing for the Performing Arts, “Sexual Assault: Changing the Narrative” 

Honorable Mention: Antara Chakravarty, Plant Pathology, “Fight against HIV: Developing a Plant Based Vaccine” 

Honorable Mention: Michael Bentel, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, “Target Toxin Number One: Teflon” 

Honorable Mention: Alex Rajewski, Plant Biology, “There and Back Again: When Evolution Reverses Course” 

Honorable Mention: Jesus Peña, Microbiology, “Let’s Talk About Sex” 

Honorable Mention: Hakeem Omotayo, Bioengineering, “Edema Reduction after Stroke” 

Honorable Mention: Thomas Dugger, Materials Science and Engineering, “Spider Silk: The Secret to Stronger Materials” 

Honorable Mention: Nuttapon Pombubpa, Plant Pathology, “Saving Us by Saving Biocrust” 

Poster Presenter First Prize: Andrew Patalano, Chemistry, “Carbon and Metal Sponge Materials for Scalable Environmental Cleanup” 

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.

  • Judges

    Mitch Boretz, Technical Communications Specialist, UCR Bourns College of Engineering

    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, OEM Western Regional Sales Manager, Corning Life Sciences

    Alicia Brotchie covers Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington and Western Canada as a Regional Sales Manager for Corning Life Sciences. She has worked for Corning for 8 years and in the science sales industry for 13 years. She graduated from California State University, Long Beach in 2002. She now resides in Redlands and has two children, aged six and nine. 

    Scott Brovsky, Executive Director, InSoCal CONNECT

    Scott Brovsky has been a Founder or Founding Executive of a number of startups including the VC funded mobile games studio Muti Labs, the Temecula based sports tech company NZN Labs/LIT Pro, and had some beginners luck selling his first company Industrial Strength Network (an early interactive agency) to frog design as an acquihire in 1998. Seeing the early promise of the iPhone and App Store, he put his own capital to work as an angel investor in independent mobile games while at Brovsky Capital. In addition, as a brand marketing executive, he has had a successful track record in defining, launching and driving revenue for major video game franchises such as The Avengers, Turok, Kingdom Hearts and Medal of Honor for leading entertainment companies like Disney/Marvel, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive. He has been working as an Entrepreneur in Residence with the University of California Riverside mentoring entrepreneurs and tech startups since January 2017, working to build a tech ecosystem in the Inland Southern California region. 

    Dr. Brandon Brown, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, UCR

    Brandon Brown is a health services researcher and assistant professor in the Center for Healthy Communities Department of Social Medicine and Population Health at UCR’s School of Medicine, where he creates new education and research initiatives within the center and partners with local community centers and public health practitioners to build a robust service and research portfolio focused on HIV, HPV, and bioethics. Dr. Brown is the chair of the board of directors of TruEvolution, a member of the UCR HIV/AIDS Committee, and he sits on the UCR institutional review board. He earned his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of California, Irvine, followed by a M.P.H. in epidemiology from UCLA and his Ph.D. in international health with a focus on epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

    Dr. Allison Cantwell, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Institutional Research, UCR

    Dr. Allison Cantwell leads UCR Institutional Research, which 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. Dr. Cantwell also serves as UCR’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 that seeks to increase college preparedness, college completion, and career preparation for students in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. 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.

    Dr. Michael Chavez, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, CSULB

    Dr. Chavez earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Riverside in 2012 and currently teaches courses in policing, justice, and power at California State University, Long Beach. He has previously published on topics including poverty in Mexican-American communities, remedial education, and youth-based community organizing in the Inland Empire. His current research explores Chicano masculinity, race, and sexuality in lowrider car culture. Professor Chavez serves as the Affirmative Action Representative to the California Faculty Association Board of Directors. He lives with his partner and 5 dogs in the same Riverside neighborhood where he grew up.

    Dr. Wendy DeBoer, Director of Academic Programs, UC MEXUS

    Dr. DeBoer is in charge of academic programs that include the UC MEXUS-CONACYT doctoral and postdoctoral research fellowship programs. She received her doctorate in sociology from the University of Southern California and holds bachelor’s degrees in English Literature and Social Sciences from UC Irvine. Her dissertation There Goes the Neighborhood: Tattoo Removal, Stigma, and the Context of Culture examines relationships between geography, social class, race, and gender through the lens of tattooing and tattoo removal. Prior to attending graduate school, Dr. DeBoer worked at the Institute for International Education in Mexico City where she coordinated CONACYT fellowships. In joining UC MEXUS, she follows in the footsteps of her grandfather who spent much of his life forging U.S.-Mexico academic ties.

    Diane Elton, Retired Director of former International Education Center, UCR

    Diane Elton nationally serves on the Membership Engagement Committee of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, which has oversight for the group’s international conference career center and resume mentoring in the field of international educational exchange. Additionally, Diane has been a NASFSA reviewer for juried sessions, posters and publications. She has also reviewed scholarship and opportunity applications for international agencies of Japan and the United States. At UCR, Diane has served on multiple scholarship/fellowship selection committees, including Fulbright panels. Currently, Diane serves as Board Secretary for the World Affairs Council of Inland Southern California and past president of the International Relations Council of Riverside, having led the group to Best in Nation status for its Sister City programs. 

    Dr. Kevin Esterling, Professor, Department of Political Science, UCR

    Dr. Esterling’s research focuses on deliberative democracy in American national politics. His current work identifies the conditions that lead citizens to engage constructively in public discourse. He is the author of The Political Economy of Expertise: Information and Efficiency in American National Politics (University of Michigan Press, 2004). He has published in a number of journals, including The American Political Science Review, Political Analysis, The Journal of Politics, Rationality and Society, Political Communication, and the Journal of Theoretical Politics. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and by the MacArthur Foundation. Esterling was previously a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley and a postdoctoral research fellow at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions at Brown University. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago in 1999. 

    Michael Ferrera, Founder and President, Ferrera Custom Clothing

    Michael Ferrera is the Founder and President of Michael Ferrera Custom Clothing, a bespoke clothier for business professionals, athletes & entertainers. As an educator and consultant, Michael Ferrera is the author of the book series titled The Perfect Gentleman’s Pocket Guide,, a pocket sized resource to being the perfect gentleman in life’s awkward situations. Mr. Ferrera is a financial investment advisory turned fashion designer who has been in the fashion industry for over ten years with his previous clothing company Maestro Tech. Mr. Ferrera specializes in one on one personal service to create the perfect fit suits, shirts, and accessories for men who want to look and feel their best. Mr. Ferrera has his own unique style where he is consistent in sophisticated yet colorful for his personal image. Occasionally he alters his looks to encourage clients that it is okay to move out of their comfort zone for style. In addition to business, Michael Ferrera enjoys philanthropic engagements and currently serves as the President of The Los Angeles Urban League Young Professionals.

    Dr. Anna Finn, Special Assistant to the Provost, UCR

    Dr. Anna Finn manages a range of special projects, particularly those related to faculty leadership and diversity practices in faculty hiring in the Provost’s Office at UCR. She earned her Ph.D. in English from UC Irvine, where her research focused on historical prosody and temporality in 19th– and 20th-poetry. During her degree, she worked as a graduate student researcher at University of California Humanities Research Institute and focused on diverse career training for humanities graduate students.

    Aaron T. Gardner, Epidemiologist, Riverside County Public Health

    Aaron Gardner, MA, MPH, is an epidemiologist with 18 years of social science and epidemiological research experience including 12 years investigating communicable and chronic disease in Riverside County with the Riverside University Health System – Public Health. He completed his Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of California, Riverside and his MPH in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine. He is a proud member of the Board of Directors of TruEvolution, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting for LGBTQ justice and advocating for the prevention and elimination of HIV/AIDS. He has extensive experience in qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis with a particular focus on health equity and social justice issues.

    Brian N. Hawley, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer, Luminex

    Brian Hawley leads Luminex, a privately held company developing distinctive data storage products based on proven technologies that tackle the complex challenges of storing, archiving, distributing and protecting data. Luminex has received the Spirit of the Entrepreneur award in technology, the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce Small Business Eagle award, and been honored as a California Small Business of the Year. Hawley is past chair of the Board for the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and the Riverside ExCITE Technology Incubator. He holds Bachelor and Master of Science Degrees in Computer Science from the University of California, Riverside, is a UCR Foundation Trustee, and a recipient of the UCR Bourns College of Engineering Honored Alumni Award. He is a long time resident of Riverside with his wife Vickie.

    Dr. Ronald Jenks, Retired Physician and Former Chief of Anesthesia, Harrison Memorial Hospital

    Dr. Ronald Jenks recently retired after nearly 30 years as a practicing anesthesiologist in Chandler, Arizona and in Bremerton, Washington, where he served as chief of the anesthesia department at Harrison Memorial Hospital. He came to his career in medicine following service in the Coast Guard and several years coaching youth sports and teaching U.S. history at the secondary school level. His love affair with travel began as a college student, and has continued in recent years on motor bikes in Vietnam, safari in South Africa, and river cruises in Russia. He is currently plotting a return trip to Japan, which he first visited in 1965.

    Dr. Graham Juby, Vice President, Carollo Engineering

    Dr. Graham Juby has 35 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 registered Civil Engineer in California and Texas.

    Dr. Kelechi Kalu, Vice Provost for International Affairs, UCR

    Kelechi A. Kalu is Vice Provost of International Affairs and Professor of Political Science at University of California, Riverside. Kalu previously served as Associate Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs and Professor of African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University. His Ph.D. (1997) is in International Studies from the Joseph Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver. Kalu earned an M.A. (1988) in Political Science from the University of Dayton, Ohio and a BA (1986) in Political Science from University of North Texas, Denton, Texas. He is widely published and has served as a consultant to the World Bank on Public Sector Governance and to the Asian Development Bank on Managing Sustainable Development in Resource-Rich Countries.

    Patricia Lock-Dawson, President, Riverside Land Conservancy

    Patricia Lock-Dawson received her Bachelor’s degree in biology from the UC Riverside and her Master of Science degree in wildlife from the University of Washington in Seattle. Her efforts through her own consulting firm created the Santa Ana River Trail and Parkway Partnership, bringing together decision makers from Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties focused on completing a 100-mile recreational trail stretching from the mountains to the Pacific. As a committed community member, Patricia is President of the Riverside Land Conservancy, gubernatorial appointee to the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Board member of the National Charity League-Riverside Chapter, past Chair of the Riverside City Planning Commission, and a past President of the Inland Chapter of California Women Lead as well. Patricia also served on the Board of Directors of the California Water Education Foundation and the California Riverside Ballet. Additionally, Patricia was a former appointee to the RUSD Budget Advisory Committee and a former member of the Citizens Oversight Committee for Measure. As a Riverside native, she was elected to the Board of Education in 2001. She has a long history of involvement in Riverside’s schools as an active parent of three daughters who are enrolled in the high school, middle school, and elementary school levels. Patricia owns her own governmental affairs consulting firm, PLD Consulting.

    Sherry MacKay, Co-founder and Director, Glocally Connected

    Sherry MacKay holds a Master’s of Education in T.E.S.O.L (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from California State University, San Bernardino. She taught for over 20 years in the ESL (English as a Second Language) field, with experience working with refugees in Toronto, Canada and with international students at UCR Extension. She is an Assistant Professor for the online M.A. in TESOL at Westcliff University in California. Sherry reconnected with the refugee community while working with the Refugee Well-Being Project at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The program brings together newly arrived refugees and university students. There she supported the university students and, in particular, helped them teach English to their refugee partners and connect the refugees with local English programs.

    Dr. Liesder Mayea, Associate Professor and Director for the Spanish Program, University of Redlands

    Dr. Mayea has a B.A. from San Diego State University with majors in Spanish, Art History, and Comparative Literature. He obtained his Ph.D. in 2009 from the University of California at Riverside. During this time and up to the present moment, he has pursued a comparative approach to the arts, especially those created during what we generally call the Medieval and Renaissance periods. He is a member of honor societies such as Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Golden Key, The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and Sigma Delta Pi, and has presented at conferences through the United States.

    Dr. Emily McEwen, Public History Professional

    Emily McEwen received her B.A. in History and French from Whittier College, her M.A. in Public History in 2008, and Ph.D. in History in 2014 from UC-Riverside. While in graduate school, Emily worked as Curator of History at the Mission Inn Foundation & Museum, and the National Historic Landmark Mission Inn Hotel was also the subject of her dissertation. Most recently, Emily held the position of Historic Resource Specialist with Orange County Parks, where she managed two historic parks, including the National Historic Landmark Helena Modjeska Historic House & Gardens. While with Orange County Parks, Emily received the 2015 Director’s Award for Excellence for her part in writing and designing interpretive panels at the Irvine Ranch Historic Park, as well as co-directing an NEH Common Heritage digitization grant.

    Dr. Rafik Mohamed, Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, CSUSB

    Dr. Mohamed is currently Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at California State University, San Bernardino. He previously taught in the sociology departments at Clayton State University and at the University of San Diego, where he was twice voted outstanding professor of the year. He received his Ph.D. in criminology, law and society from the University of California, Irvine. He is author of Black Men on the Blacktop: Race and the Politics of Basketball and, with Erik Fritsvold, Dorm Room Dealers: Drugs and the Privileges of Race and Class

    Nora Moti, Retired Director of Education and Nursing Research, Kaiser, Fontana, and Ontario Medical Centers

    Nora Moti started her Registered Nursing career upon graduating from Riverside Community College in 1979. She received her Bachelors in Nursing in 1984 and her Masters of Nursing in 2003 from California State University, San Bernardino. She served on the Institutional Review Boards of CSUSB and Southern California Kaiser Permanente Regional Center. She also served as the Vice President and the President of CSUSB’s Rho Beta Chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. In 2008, she received “The Inland Empire Nursing Leader Award” from The Riverside Press-Enterprise. The same year, she also received “The Southern California Hospital Hero Award” produced by National Health Foundation. She co-authored a research project titled “Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice Patterns.” In recent years, she served as the president of The Moti Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine and taught online courses in nursing ethics for Zirve University in Turkey. Nora likes travelling and mentoring her grandson and granddaughter in reaching their educational goals in engineering and medicine, respectively.  

    Tiffany Moxham, Assistant University Librarian for Collections and Scholarly Communication Strategies, UCR Library

    Tiffany Moxham has strategic responsibility for advancing library programs and services to support the University’s research, education, and service mission, and provides vision, strategic direction, leadership and management for the Collections Division. She was most recently the Coordinator of Medical Library Programs at UCR and has fourteen years of experience working in academic and research libraries in North America, including ten years’ experience as a supervisor and manager in academic libraries and research groups. 

    Dr. José A. Muñoz, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, CSUSB

    Dr. Muñoz is an Associate Professor at California State University, San Bernardino. His current research is in the field of public health, health disparities, and Latino Communities in the U.S. José’s other research includes topics such as social movements and Latin America, immigration, and race. He has authored papers in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, Social Movement Studies, Sociology Compass, Humanity and Society, National Social Science Journal, Migration and Development, and the International Review of Modern Sociology. José teaches courses in Theory, Qualitative Methods, Latino Health, Social Movements, and Immigration. 

    Cati Porter, Executive Director, Inlandia Institute

    Cati Porter is a poet, essayist, and executive director of the Inlandia Institute, an Inland Empire non-profit organization devoted to recognizing, supporting, and expanding regional literary activity in all its forms. She is the author of the poetry collections Seven Floors Up and My Skies of Small Horses as well as seven chapbooks, most recently The Body, Like Bread. Her third full-length collection of poetry is forthcoming in 2019 from CavanKerry Press. Recent essays have appeared in Zocalo Public Square, The Manifest-Station, and Salon. She received her M.F.A. from Antioch University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Riverside, California. 

    Dr. Janise Roselle, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Pomona College

    Janise Roselle oversees processes related to faculty promotion and tenure, manages a grant fund for pedagogical programming, develops strategic communications, and works with junior faculty on developing proposals for foundation grants at Pomona College. Previously she was the Coordinator of the Graduate Writing Center at UCR and the grants facilitator for CNAS, helping junior faculty develop their research profiles. Dr. Roselle earned her Ph.D. in English at UCR in 2012. Her dissertation, Bodies Under Empire: The Territory of American Feminism, used feminist epistemologies to connect colonial and 20thcentury American literature by examining cultural productions representing femininity and creative deployment of the female body as a site of feminist resistance and horror. 

    Linda Sherman-Nurick, Owner, Cellar Door Bookstore

    Linda received her B.A. in English in 1979 and her M.A. in Composition Theory in 1981 from California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). She worked as an adjunct faculty at CSUSB, San Bernardino Valley College, Crafton Hills College, and UC Riverside, followed by her work as a faculty member at Riverside Community College (RCC) for over two decades. While busy teaching at RCC, she also raised two awesome kids as a single mom. Since 2012, she has been the owner of Cellar Door Bookstore, an indie bookstore in Riverside, specializing in community and good books. 

  • 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 be 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 2017 competition. 

  • Application and Contestant Selection

    The online application is now available. Applicants will be selected and scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications will be accepted through Monday, February 26th 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: 

    Presenting Effectively with Visual Aids
    Thursday, March 1st, 1:10-2:00pm (LFSC 1425) 

    Grad Slam Contestant Feedback Sessions
    Thursday, March 15th, 1:10-2:00pm (LFSC 1425) 
    Monday, April 2nd, 11:10am-12:00pm (LFSC 1425) 

    Questions? Please contact our Grad Slam Co-Coordinators Yelda SerinNancy Cruz, or Hillary Jenks.