Undergraduate Research Slam

Congratulations to our 2017 Undergraduate Research Slam winners and finalists!

2017 Winners 

1st Place: Chloe Brotherton – A 'Bitch' by Any Other Name: Reclaiming Gendered Insult Terms
Language, Culture and Society, College of Letters & Science

2nd Place: Jessica Norris – The Enactment of Cap and Trade in China
 Political Science, College of Letters & Science

3rd Place: Anoop Praturu – Are Galaxies Foggy?
Physics, College of Creative Studies

4th Place Emeriti Award: Chris Sercel – Development of a Laser-Heated Water Thruster
Physics, College of Creative Studies



2017 Finalists:

Michael Arnold – Characterization of Camptothecin Nanoparticles
Biological Sciences, College of Letters & Science

Sarah Bay – Immune Function and Acute Testosterone Change in Male Undergraduates
Anthropology, College of Letters & Science

Dolev Bluvstein – Nanoscale Electrical Conductivity Imaging with the Nitrogen Vacancy Defect in Diamond
Physics, College of Creative Studies

Cole Hoyt – Mass Shootings, Media, and Gun Control Legislation
Political Science, College of Letters & Science

Brooke Klooster – College Rape Culture and the Community
Sociology, College of Letters & Science

David Lowe – The Prophecy of Cancer Relapse: Resurrecting the Dead
Physics, College of Creative Studies

Carina Motta – Preserving Baja: Classification of Potentially New Suaeda Species
Pre-Biology, College of Letters & Science

Gillian Nguyen – Soil: a Promising New Green Energy
Ecology and Evolution, College of Letters & Science

Zenzile Riddick – Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: Christian Missions and the Colonial Destruction of the Black Identity
Sociology, College of Letters & Science

Christian Rodriguez – Visionary Exploration: Sharpening the view of Exoplanets
Physics, College of Letters & Science

Alexander Smolentsev – Curing Diabetic Retinopathy with the help of the Nile Rat
Biopsychology, College of Letters & Science

Emma Zhang – Identifying Genes Regulating Sex Drive in the Fruit Fly and its Application in the Mosquito
Biochemistry-Molecular Biology, College of Letters & Science

Undergraduate Research Slam 2017 Entry period: February 24, 2017 - April 1, 2017 

First round: April 27 (9:00-12:30) and April 28 (2:00-5:00) in the Student Resource Building, Multipurpose Room. 50 presenters.

Final round: May 16, 2017 (11:00-1:30) in the Santa Barbara Harbor Room - University Center. 15 presenters.  

The Undergraduate Research Slam offers students the chance to give dynamic, 3-minute oral presentations of their research or creative activity to a panel of judges. All UCSB undergraduates participating in research during the 2016-2017 academic year are eligible. The top 3 students will earn research awards ranging from $1500-$2500.

The first round of 50 presentations will take place over two days, April 27 (9:00-12:30) and April 28 (2:00-5:00), in the Student Resource Building, Multipurpose Room. Students are not required to attend the entire event, but must schedule an hour appointment during one of the windows. A panel of judges will determine the top 15 finalists, who will compete in the final round on May 16 (11:00-1:30). 

Students MUST be available during one of the two first round events and during the final event on May 16 to be considered. Spaces will be alotted on a first-come, first-serve basis by signing up through the online entry form.

All three Slam events will be open to the public.

ELIGIBILITY To be eligible, students must:

  • Be a currently-enrolled UCSB undergraduate
  • Have worked on their research or creative activity during the 2016-2017 academic year
  • Be an individual (While groups are allowed to present a single poster at the Colloquium, students may not present as a group in the Slam. Participants within a group should focus their presentation on their particular contribution to the group project, and must have permission from other group members to present at Slam.)

Students do not need to have been awarded an URCA grant to participate in either the Colloquium or the Slam.

ENTRY AND SELECTION PROCEDURES Entry for the Slam opens on February 24 and closes on April 1 at 11:59 P.M. PST. Students submit an entry form online. Sign up is first-come, first-served – after 60 students choose a time slot for the first round (50 + 10 wait list spots), students will not be able to sign up for the Slam, and the entry form will be closed. After submitting an entry form, students will be notified via UMAIL if they were selected to participate. Wait listed students will be contacted in case a presenter withdraws from the first round.


  • Presentations for both the first and final rounds must be THREE MINUTES in length and no longer. 1 point deductions will begin every 10 seconds a presenter goes over the limit (e.g. 3:10 minute presentation = 1 point deducted from final score). 1 point deductions will also be given for presentations under 2:30 minutes. We will have a timer in the first row to indicate when the presenter has reached 3 minutes.
  • Students must use Microsoft PowerPoint for presentations and will be required to submit their slides prior to each event so they can be compiled and loaded onto the computer being used (see deadlines below).
  • Slides must have a width of 10 inches and a height of 7.5 inches.
  • No more than 3 slides are allowed (1 title slide, prepared for you by the contest organizers, is not included in this total). Embedding of audio and/or video clips is allowed. Slide animations are allowed only if they are used to build or reveal items on one slide, but not to (remove and) introduce full-size items that mimic an additional slide (Acceptable animation | Unacceptable animation [download and view as slideshow in PowerPoint]). Please contact us with any questions regarding the slides, and be sure to attend one of the Presentation Workshops on either April 7 or April 13.
  • Props must be approved by the Undergraduate Programs Coordinator one week in advance.

JUDGING Presentations will be judged based on: 

  • Presence and delivery
  • Effective use of visuals
  • Timing (3 minutes and no longer)
  • Significance of research or creative activity
  • Appropriateness for a non-specialist audience
  • Clarity and organization
  • Engagement

Click here to download the official judging rubric.

PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY By entering the competition, the presenter agrees to allow UCSB's Office of Undergraduate Education to use the resulting photographs and/or video from the Undergraduate Research Slam, which may include the presenter’s image or presentation, for publicity surrounding the contest and/or in other contexts, such as promotional materials, website, etc. If the presenter has questions or concerns about making their presentation publicly available, please contact the Undergraduate Programs Coordinator.

AWARD CEREMONY The first, second, and third place winners will be announced at an awards ceremony and reception in Mosher Alumni House on Thursday, May 18 (3:00-4:00). Research awards will be presented, and light refreshments will be provided. Finalists, mentors, judges, and staff will be invited. 


  • February 24 - April 1: Undergraduate Research Slam entry form submissions accepted. Confirmation emails will be sent shortly after entry form closes.
  • April 7: Undergraduate Slam workshop with Professor Gina Genova & Professor Madeleine Sorapur – 6:00-8:00pm in the SRB MPR.
  • April 13: Undergraduate Slam workshop with Professor Gina Genova & Professor Madeleine Sorapur – 6:00-8:00pm in the SRB MPR.
  • April 20: PowerPoint slides for the first 50 presentations must be submitted via email to URCA@Ltsc.ucsb.edu.
  • April 27 First round: Day one of first round presentations – from 9:00-12:30 in the SRB MPR
  • April 28 First round: Day two of first round presentations – from 2:00-5:00 in SRB MPR
  • May 5: Fifteen finalists will be announced via UMAIL.
  • May 11: Final PowerPoint slides for the event must be submitted via email to URCA@Ltsc.ucsb.edu.
  • May 16 Final Round: Undergraduate Research Slam from 11:00-1:30, Santa Barbara Harbor Room, University Center – participants will be alerted of their time slot via UMAIL.
  • May 18: Undergraduate Research Slam Awards Ceremony from 2:00-3:00pm, Mosher Alumni House

Please contact the URCA office with any questions: URCA@Ltsc.ucsb.edu, (805) 893-3090, 2110 North Hall



Congratulations to our 2016 Undergraduate Research Slam winners and finalists! See The UCSB Current story on the Slam here.

2016 Winners 

1st Place: Kevin Dervishi – Investigating Tau Dimerization: The Implication of Tau Oligomers in Neurodegeneration
                   Biology (Biochemistry emphasis), College of Creative Studies

2nd Place: Nicole Bush – Circularized RNA in Fruit Fly Eggs
                    Biology, College of Creative Studies

3rd Place: Sarah Bay – Are Acute Changes in Endogenous Testosterone Associated with Changes in Cellular Immunity?
                   Anthropology, College of Letters & Science

2016 Finalists:

Jennifer Cruz – Performance Moderates Female-directed Hostility in Male-dominated Environments
Communication, College of Letters & Science

Andrew Dawson – Testing Pharmaceuticals’ Authenticity for Developing Areas
Chemistry/Biochemistry, College of Creative Studies

Nicole Dodd – Language Contact Between Andalusian Arabic and Spanish: The Orientalizing Suffix
Linguistics (Spanish emphasis) and Global Studies, College of Letters & Science

Zachary Feinn – Providing Free WiFi to the Homeless
Computer Engineering, College of Engineering

Michelle Higgins – Investigating the Effects of Vinca Alkaloid Drugs on the GTP Binding Site of Tubulin
Cell and Developmental Biology, College of Letters & Science

Risa Jensen – Emotions, Message Framing, and Persuasion
Sociology & Communication, College of Letters & Science

Henry Morse – Applied Microbial Extracellular Polysaccharides as a Method of Increasing Plant Production
Biochemistry, College of Creative Studies

Dinh Nhan – The Role of YciB Protein in E.coli
Microbiology, College of Letters & Science

Kelly Noah – Mindfulness Meditation Effects on Breast Cancer Survivorship Stress
Biochemistry, College of Creative Studies

Tyler Ogunmowo – Understanding the Generation of Sleep Patterns using the Fruit Fly
Biochemistry, College of Letters & Science

Gold Okafor – Did I Do That?: Locating and Disrupting Neural Processing for the Sense of Agency
Biopsychology, College of Letters & Science

Alexander Smolentsev – Making the Familiar Novel - Familiarity in a Virtual Environment and its Effect on Immersion
Biopsychology, College of Letters & Science