Grad Slam 2017 Winners

Grad Slam 2017 Winners

The third annual Grad Slam, held March 16, featured 10 UCSF graduate students competing to inform and entertain with three-minute science talks based on their own research. Their subjects ranged from the genetics of aging to the rewiring of injured neural circuits to spinal changes in astronauts.

In his opening remarks, Sam Hawgood, MBBS, UCSF chancellor, said the Grad Slam is “a great celebration of what we’re about. It’s a celebration of science and the fact that we believe in evidence-based science to forward humankind.”

The runner-up prize of $1,500 was awarded to Ashley Smart, a graduate student in the Neuroscience Program, advised by Grae Davis, PhD, and Jim Wells, PhD. Her talk titled, “Death by Light,” was about using light to control the enzyme caspase.

“Sometimes in lab you get focused on the small details," said Smart. "Doing something like this makes it feel more real, like there’s a reason beyond pipetting 100 times today, that it’s achieving some broader goal that’s important.”

The people’s choice award, voted by the audience, was given to Sam Pollock, a graduate student in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Program, advised by Jim Wells. His talk on antibody therapy for tumors kept the audience laughing with an extended metaphor on doughnut glazes and the sprinkles that stick to them. He received $750.

“A lot of my family members and friends hadn’t heard about my research before,” said Pollock. “We all have a responsibility to talk about what we do in a way that other people can understand, because they’re the ones paying for it.”


About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy is a premier graduate-level academic organization dedicated to improving health through precise therapeutics. It succeeds through innovative research, by educating PharmD health professional and PhD science students, and by caring for the therapeutics needs of patients while exploring innovative new models of patient care. The School was founded in 1872 as the first pharmacy school west of the Mississippi River. It is an integral part of UC San Francisco, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide.

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