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Grad Slam

Grad Slam

Congratulations to our 2024 Grad Slam Winners

Brendan Boyd


Brendan Boyd - Biological Sciences
Sodium Savants: How Caterpillars Maintain Their Salt and Water Balance

Shanelle Watkins


Shanelle Watkins - Educational Leadership
Navigating Leadership and Identity: Exploring the Experiences of Black Women Undergraduate Student Leaders at Hispanic Serving Institutions

Poorvi Datta


Poorvi Datta - Biological Science
Integrating Recorded Lectures with Edited Captions Makes STEM Courses More Accessible for SWD



Loly Saenz - Biological Science
Examining Extra Pair Copulation on South African Penguins



Dylan Scofield - Mathematics
Fermat’s Last Theorem: The Challenge of Adding One


Undergraduate Participants

Undergraduate participants with Dean De Leone

Graduate Participants

Graduate participants with Dean De Leone

Event Program

April 5, 2024 | 5 PM | Markstein Hall 125


  • Welcome from the Graduate Representatives Council
  • Remarks from Dr. Chuck De Leone, Dean of Graduate Studies and Research


  • Overview of Competition Logistics
  • Undergraduate Presentations
  • Graduate Presentations: Non-STEM
  • Graduate Presentations: STEM

Break & Score Tabulations

Presentation of Awards


Competition Judges

Thank you judges!

  • Dr. Minoo Ashoori - Marketing
  • Dr. Alison Budelsky - Lilly, Immunology
  • Dr. Dennis Kolosov - Biology
  • Dr. Chuck Matthews - Public Health
  • Dr. Brandon Moore - Sociology
  • Dr. Nathan Wright - Loxo Onocology at Lily, Chemisty


2024 Presentations and Participants List

The Annual Grad Slam is a campus-wide research communication competition where both undergraduate and graduate students present their research and scholarly work in a concise and engaging manner to a non-specialist audience. It challenges participants to distill complex ideas into clear and compelling presentations within a short time frame. The goal is to effectively communicate the significance and impact of their research in a way that is accessible and engaging to a wide audience

Student participants will make 1 presentation slide and give a 3-minute oral presentations before juries of professional experts from major corporations, foundations, public agencies, and colleges and universities in California. Presentations from all disciplines are invited!

For questions, contact or 

  • Why Participate?
    • Enhanced Communication Skills: Grad Slam provides a platform for students to hone their ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and concisely, a skill that is valuable in academia and beyond.

    • Professional Development: By participating, students can develop valuable skills in public speaking, storytelling, and presenting their research to a non-specialist audience, which can be beneficial for their future careers.

    • Networking Opportunities: Grad Slam offers students the chance to connect with peers, faculty, and professionals from various fields, expanding their network and potential opportunities for collaboration or future career paths.

    • Recognition and Visibility: Participants can gain recognition for their research and academic achievements, both within the university and potentially at broader levels if they advance to higher stages of the competition.

    • Personal Growth: The experience of participating in Grad Slam can boost students' confidence, self-esteem, and ability to present themselves and their work effectively in professional settings.

    • Prizes: Cash Prizes for top winnners!
  • Scoring and Rubric

    Given that this is a competition centered on research communication, students will be evaluated based on their proficiency in articulating their research findings to communicate their research.

    Competitors will be scored on four general criteria of Comprehension, Content, Engagement, and Communication. Each of these criteria is assessed by evaluating whether a series of specific presentation goals, as outlined below, are met.

    Judges of the Grad Slam provide a score from 1 to 5 (fractional scores like 3.5 are permitted) for each of the four criteria. Each area is scored (with equal weighting) on a 1.0 (poor) to 5.0 (excellent) scale. The highest possible score earned is 20.0.

    View the CSUSM Grad Slam Scoring Rubric 

  • Winning Presentations

    Winners will be awarded cash prizes and be selected from the following categories:

    • Two graduate (1 STEM and 1 Non-STEM)  - $500 each
    • One undergraduate (STEM or Non-STEM) - $300
    • Two Runner Up Prizes -$100 each

    The 2 graduate winners will also represent CSUSM at the CSU Wide Grad Slam!


Lilly logo
We are pleased to welcome Lilly Research Laboratories as a new sponsor of the 2024 Grad Slam!


Previous Winners

  • 2023 Grad Slam

    Serena Farrell | Biological Sciences (Undergraduate Winner)
    "Changes in Abundance in TRP/painless in the Osmoregulatory Tissues of the Aedes Aegypti larvae"

    Natalie Medico | History (People's Choice)
    "Radical Women, Media, and Civil Disobedience"

    Elisha Rainwaters | Sociological Practice (Non-STEM Winner)
    "The Impact of COVID quarantine in local independent musicians"

    Jocelyne Dates | Biological Sciences (STEM Winner) 
    "Voltage-gated Ion Channels Regulate Epithelial Ion Transport and Fluid Secretion Rate in the Malpighian Tubules of the Larval Cabbage Looper"

  • 2022 Grad Slam

    Alexis Castaneda | Biological Sciences (Undergraduate Winner)
    "Voltage-gated ion channels in Caterpillar non-excitable tissue"

    Daniel Castro | History (People's Choice)
    "American-Anime: How Japanese anime influenced American cartoons"

    Michelle Kang | Mathematics (Graduate Winner)
    "The Saturation Spectrum of Odd Cycles"

    Ciara Sanders | Biological Sciences (Graduate Winner) 
    "Investigating the effect of tetracycline treatment on the horizontal gene transfer of integrative conjugative elements in coastal bacteria"