UCLA’s Inaugural Grad Slam

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Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate students participate in UCLA’s first ever campus-wide Grad Slam competition.                 

Paul Weiss group members John Abendroth and Nako Nakatsuka particpated in the competition along with 90 other UCLA students representing 50 different academic programs. The competition involved graduate students giving three-minute talks describing their research in layman’s terms to a panel of judges. 

UCLA’s Graduate Division and Graduate Student Association organized the competition to encourage graduate students to learn to convey their research and ideas in a manner that anyone can understand and appreciate. 


Paul Weiss group graduate students John Abendroth and Nako Nakatsuka competed in UCLA’s Grad Slam in April.

“It was difficult to construct a three minute script for a general audience that conveyed the big picture of my research.” Nako said. “I think it was critical but extremely tough to provide significant background information and to avoid chemistry jargon while not completely dumbing down your research and over-simplifying your work. It was definitely great practice for an elevator talk where you have to concisely explain everything you want your audience to know in a limited amount of time in a situation where they won’t have the chance to ask you questions…so you better explain it perfectly!”

The top three finalists by the audience were awarded fellowships in the amounts of $3,000, $2,000, $1,000 respectively and there was an Audience Choice award in the amount of $500. The first-place winner from UCLA moved on to compete in the UC-wide competition held in Oakland on May 4, 2015.

The event was featured in the Los Angeles Times.

For more information about the UCLA’s Grad Slam visit here.

Photos by Sonya Gavin, Graduate Division.