Grad Slam Finalists 2018

February 23, 2018, 5:30 p.m.
Music Center Recital Hall

Congratulations to the winners of UC Santa Cruz Grad Slam 2018!

Kimberley Kanani BitterwolfUCSC Grad Slam Champion, $3000
People's Choice, $750

Kimberley Kanani Bitterwolf
Ocean Sciences
Ph.D., 5th year
Decoding Earth's Erratic History
Hometown: Lihue, Kauai, HI
Fun Fact: Owns a Rottweiler-Husky dog named Pawesome

Nickolas KnightlyRunner-up, $1500
Nickolas Knightly
Ph.D., 5th year
A Better World Depends on Better Ways of Knowing
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Fun Fact: Some of his best friends are horses, who've taught him a lot about philosophy as a way of life

The other 10 finalists also gave stellar performances! Videos of all presentations are on our YouTube channel.

Anthony "Tony" Assi

Tony Assi
Digital Arts and New Media
M.F.A., 2nd year
Gaze Painting
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Fun Fact: Lead singer of a glam rock band called Psychic Astro Club

Stephan BitterwolfStephan Bitterwolf
Ocean Sciences
Ph.D., 2nd year
A Stress Test for Coral Reefs
Hometown: Water Island, U.S. Virgin Islands
Fun Fact: Longest time to hold breath is three minutes

Eilin FrancisEilin Francis
Ph.D., 5th year
Behaviorally Informed Payment Plans
Hometown: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Kerala, India
Fun Fact: Trained in and performed classical Indian dance for ten years

Sharmistha GuhaSharmistha Guha
Statistics and Applied Mathematics
Ph.D., 3rd year
Understanding Human Creativity with Brain Networks
Hometown: Kolkata, India
Fun Fact: Loves to travel and explore U.S. national parks, has been to several, next to Zion and Arches

Helen HolmlundHelen Holmlund
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Ph.D., 2nd year
Water Use Strategies in Ferns
Hometown: Montara, CA
Fun Fact: Has grapheme-color synesthesia, sees letters and numbers in color

Courney KerstenCourtney Kersten
Ph.D., 2nd year
Locating Linda: A Biographical Exploration of a New Age Guru, Grief, and Healing
Hometown: Eau Claire, WI
Fun Fact: Has lived abroad in Budapest, Hungary; Leiden, The Netherlands; and Riga, Latvia

Stephanie MontgomeryStephanie Montgomery
Ph.D., 6th year
Gender, Criminality, and the Prison in China
Hometown: Winnemucca, NV
Fun Fact: Before 18 years of age had visited only one other U.S. state but has now lived in and traveled to more countries (13) than U.S. states (11)

Rebecca OraRebecca Ora
Film and Digital Media
Ph.D., 6th year
Pushing the Limits of Representation: Writing Transgressive Histories through Art
Hometown: New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA
Fun Fact: After receiving a top award while getting her M.F.A., created her own annual award for risk-takers in the arts and established her own micronation, Pantasia, through a San Franciso art museum

Tiffany ThangTiffany Thang
Computational Media
M.S., 1st year
Teaching Emotion Recognition Using Virtual Reality Games
Hometown: San Jose, CA
Fun Fact: Once went on a hike from UCSC through Pogonip Park and ended up at Costco

Talia WaltzerTalia Waltzer
Ph.D., 3rd year
[citation needed] Why So Many Students Plagiarize
Hometown: Edison, NJ
Fun Fact: Favorite food is loved by some, despised by many, banned in many Asian places: Durian, King of Fruits!

Grad Slam, a competition also referred to as the 3-Minute Thesis Challenge,* challenges graduate students to present years worth of academic research in a concise, compelling, three-minute talk to a non-expert audience. It encourages students to clarify their ideas and help others understand and appreciate the significance of their research or other graduate work. The contest is open to all graduate students.

The winner of the UCSC Grad Slam receives $3,000; the runner-up receives $1,500; and the people s choice winner receives $750. The UCSC Grad Slam winner will compete in the UC-wide Grad Slam on May 3, 2018, at LinkedIn, 222 2nd Street in San Francisco. UCSC’s 2017 champion, John Felts, took second place at the UC Grad Slam held May 4, 2017. Visit UCOP Grad Slam to view the 2017 finalists from all UC campuses and to watch the livestream of the event on May 3, 2018. Viewers on site and virtual may participate in the peoples choice voting!

Registration for the 2018 Grad Slam opened November 13, 2017, and closed January 21, 2018, at midnight PST. All registrants had to submit a 3-minute-maximum video of their presentation via a share link entered in the registration form. A panel of UCSC staff judges reviewed the videos and selected the finalists who competed in UCSC’s live Grad Slam on Friday, February 23, 2018, starting at 5:30 p.m., at the Music Center Recital Hall, with a reception following for competitors and audience.

Check out the 2018 finalists’ videos here.

View video of the three awardees, and the complete list of finalists from the UCSC 2017 Grad Slam
View video of the three awardees, and the complete list of finalists from the UCSC 2016 Grad Slam
View video of the three awardees, and the complete list of finalists from the UCSC 2015 Grad Slam

*Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a registered trademark of The University of Queensland.