Graduate Division

UCI Campus Wide Grad Slam Winners

Grad Slam Winners 2020

Rebecca Riley

Rebecca Riley (First Place)

Degree Program

Ph.D., Theoretical Particle Physics, expected 2022


What on earth is dark matter, and how can we discover it? To find out, we'll have to delve into mathematical group theory, gauge anomalies, and particle colliders. Find out the answers to these questions and more from a theoretical physicist -- all in just 3 minutes!

Brenna Briggs

Brenna Biggs (Second Place)

Degree Program

Ph.D., Chemistry


Join me for a drive through California's San Joaquin Valley. Our destination: a dairy farm in Visalia, California. Although we first notice upon arrival the overwhelming smell of cow manure seeping from uncovered manure lagoons, that is not our biggest problem. Manure lagoons emit greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide. These can cause health problems and climate change. For California to successfully reduce its emissions, scientists need to know where and how many greenhouse emissions are occurring and they currently done.

This uncertainty has been linked to dairy farms in San Joaquin Valley—our sample location. At the dairy farm, we will collect air samples to determine where emissions are coming from and learn how to reduce them. By fully understanding dairy emissions in the Valley, dairy farmers can install bioreactors to trap greenhouse gases and use them for electricity to power their farms and save our planet.

Damie Juat

Damie Juat (Third Place) 

Degree Program

M.S., Biomedical and Translational Science


One of the most important challenges the drug industry faces today is the productivity of research and development in its early stages. Monolayer cultures and animal models used to develop and test the efficacy of drugs do not accurately represent the intricate environment of the human body. Consequently, these models cannot predict precisely how drugs will interact with tumor masses present in the body as they proceed through clinical trials. The Hughes Lab has created and validated a vascularized microtumor (VMT) model that mimics the tumor environment and the abnormal characteristics of the tumor vasculature seen in vivo. Immune therapies represent a good approach for novel drug development because they utilize the bodys natural immunity to fight off disease. I hope to use the VMT to determine if T-cells can be effectively primed to target cancer tumor-associated neoantigens.