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.”

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Cell Division Talk Takes Top Prize at 2017 UCSF Grad Slam


Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.