Grad Slam Participant Instructions

Graduate students who are enrolled in fall 2018 and winter 2019 are eligible to compete in Grad Slam.*

The video-submission and registration period opens November 13, 2018, and closes February 3, 2019, at midnight PST.


*Past Grad Slam winners, runners-up and peoples choice winners are excluded.

    Registering to participate in Grad Slam

  • Film Your Presentation

    Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum. Presentations exceeding three minutes during the video round of competition will be disqualified.

    Begin your recording with:

    1. your full name
    2. graduate program
    3. title of your presentation

    The time it takes to do the above will not be counted against the three minutes to present your research.

    The video may include up to three slides that adhere to the following:

    • All work on slides must be original to the graduate student and may not be generated by a professional.
    • Embedding of audio and/or video clips, including animation, is allowed; however, no PowerPoint animations of text are allowed (see PowerPoint animation tab).

    Props are allowed but need to be cleared by UCSC Grad Slam organizer Sonya Newlyn and the Division of Graduate Studies. Consider the feasibility of giving the same presentation live on stage; thus, laboratory equipment to perform an experiment on stage, being unlikely to be allowed, will also be disallowed in a video.

    Unless these are integral to the graduate-level research or work being presented, costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment, and so on are not permitted. Before using these in a presentation video, check with UCSC Grad Slam organizer Sonya Newlyn.

    Presentations are to be prose (no poems, raps, or songs).

    Your final, live presentation may differ slightly from your video presentation; however, the subject matter should be the same.

    Remember, the quality of the recording is not judged; it’s the quality of the content that is important. McHenry Library’s Digital Scholarship Commons has video cameras, tripods, and video-editing software available to check out.

  • Upload Your Video to Your Google Drive

    In your UCSC Google Drive, upload your video entry as an MP4, MOV, AVI, or WMV file.

    • Name your video file using this format: "GradSlam2019_Lastname_Firstname.mp4"
    • Share the file with "Can edit" permission with and

  • Register for Grad Slam

    The deadline to share your video and register is February 3, 2019, midnight PST.

  • Judging

  • Two sets of judges determine the finalists and winners of the live event: video-screening judges and live-event final judges. The screening judges review the video entries submitted by the deadline of February 3 and choose the finalists. The final judges attend the live event on March 8 and choose the winner and runner-up. The judges choices are final and binding.

    The audience votes to determine the peoples choice winner at the live event on March 8. Each audience member gets one vote. In the event that the peoples choice winner is the same as the winner or runner-up, that individual will receive both prizes.

    In the event of a tie, in either the judges’ scoring or audience voting for the peoples choice, the vice provost and dean of graduate studies, Lori Kletzer, will make the final decision.

    The Division of Graduate Studies reserves the right to replace any judge who has to withdraw with another qualified individual.

  • Basic Judging Criteria

    Comprehension and Content

    Did the presentation help the audience understand the research?

    Was the dissertation (thesis) topic and its significance communicated using language appropriate to an intelligent, but non-specialist audience?

    Engagement and Communication

    Did the presentation make the audience want to know more?

    The judges may also consider the following factors

    Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?

    Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?

    Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?

    Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?

    Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of the presentation, or did s/he elaborate too long on one aspect, or was the presentation rushed?

    Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or over-generalize research?

    Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for the research?

    Did the presenter capture and maintain the audience's attention?

    Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range, maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?

    If PowerPoint slides were used, did they enhance the presentation; was it clear, legible, and concise?

  • Prizes

  • The winner receives $3,000; the runner-up $1,500; the peoples choice $750. Winnings may be taxable.

  • Disclaimers

  • Videotaping of Live Event

    The March 8 live UCSC Grad Slam event will be photographed and videotaped. By entering the contest, you agree to allow the UC Santa Cruz Division of Graduate Studies to use the resulting photographs and video, which may include your image or presentation, in publicity for the contest and in other contexts, such as websites, promotional materials, etc. (The initial video entries will not be shared with anyone except the screening judges.)

  • Finalist Participation

    Finalists selected from the video round of competition will be required to participate in the live event of UCSC Grad Slam scheduled for March 8, 2019, at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar Street in downtown Santa Cruz. In addition, finalists must submit:

    1. a headshot to be used for event publicity and the printed program
    2. the up to three PowerPoint slides for the live event presentation, if this option is desired

    These materials are due to the Division of Graduate Studies by noon on February 15. Professional presentation trainer Bri McWhorter of Activate to Captivate will work with UCSC’s Grad Slam finalists on February 15. A time that works for all finalists will be determined for the preparatory session with Bri McWhorter on February 15. A walk-through for the live event will take place on March 8 at 3 p.m. at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center.

  • UCOP System-wide Grad Slam Participation

    Finalists who participate in UCSCs Grad Slam agree to attend and represent UCSC at the UC system-wide Grad Slam on May 10, 2019, at LinkedIn, 222 2nd Street in San Francisco should they win the overall UCSC competition or take second place. The Division of Graduate Studies will send both the winner and second-place finisher to the system-wide competition. The winner will compete in the event; however, the second-place finisher should be prepared to present and compete as an understudy to the winner in the event of any emergency that prevents the winner from competing.

  • Event Cancellation

    The Division of Graduate Studies reserves the right to cancel UCSC Grad Slam if fewer than 20 video entries are received.