UCSB crowns 2017 Grad Slam champion

by Shawn Warner-Garcia, Assistant Director of Professional Deveopment
Friday, April 21, 2017 8:26 PM

After two weeks of competition and 71 amazing presenters, nine graduate students competed for thousands of dollars and Grad Slam glory at the final round on Friday, April 21, at 3 p.m.​ With a packed house in Corwin Pavilion and thousands watching the live-stream coverage online, we crowned our 2017 UCSB Grad Slam champion. (See a full lineup of final round presenters and topics here.)

The people with the second-hardest job in the house (after the presenters) were our amazing panel of judges, ​which featured:

  • Mark A. Bertelsen, ​Former Trustee of the UCSB Foundation
  • Joseph Incandela, ​UCSB Professor of Physics and Interim Vice Chancellor of Research
  • Margaret Klawunn, UCSB Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
  • Monique Limón, Assembly Member for the 37th District

Runner-up Eric Jorgensen, Grand Champion Leah Foltz, and Runner-up Max NowakWithout further ado, the judges’ choices for the two runners-up (and winners of $2,500 cash prizes each) are:

Eric Jorgensen
(Theater Studies)


Max Nowak
(Chemical Engineering)

And the winner of the 2017 Grad Slam, including a $5,000 cash prize and a chance to win big at the UC Grad Slam against other campuses, is:

Leah Foltz
(Biomolecular Science & Engineering)

In addition to our judges' choices, all of our presenters were so outstanding that Writing Peer Kyle Crocco also compiled his own list of superlatives:

  • Jim Mondo: Best interview (Q: "What are you doing when you’re not studying fruit flies?" A: "I’m mostly studying fruit flies.")
  • Kelly Ibsen: Coolest video of jabbing a needle into your stomach
  • David Miller: Best future video game title (Plants, Cities, and Satellites)
  • Amanda Kaczmarek: Best Ikea reference ("This mental rotation task is familiar to you if you tried to put a table together from Ikea.")
  • Leah Foltz: Best reason to fear typos (Typos in your genes can make you blind.)
  • Daniel Phillips: Best use of drawing to solve political problems  
  • Eric Jorgensen: Best orator
  • Dominique Houston:  Best singing (“Forever Young!")
  • Max Nowak: Best subliminal suggestion ("Don’t think of a pen.")

Congratulations to all of our competitors, and tune in on Thursday, May 4, for live-stream coverage of the UC-wide Grad Slam and the chance to vote for UCSB's Leah Fotlz in the People's Choice component!

Our fabulous final round competitors