Grad Slam 2023 button

2023 Grad Slam Winner

Learn more about our 9 finalists in this year's Grad Slam by viewing their intro videos:

Watch the pre-recorded versions of our finalists' talks that were evaluated by the judges:

Grad Slam navigation button (1)
Rules, Judging, & Scoring
Resources for Presenters


Presenters and Winners Button

Grad Slam SponsorsFinal Round Showcase

Friday, April 14, 4:30 - 6:00 p.m.
UCSB Campbell Hall & live-streamed on YouTube

Preliminary round champions will record their talks in March to be judged asynchronously before the Final Round. At the Final Round, each of our 10 champions will give a live version of their talk and the judges' winners will be announced. The event will also feature a Q&A with the presenters and the audience will vote for their People's Choice.

Final Round Prizes

1 - $2,000 grand prize winner who represents UCSB at the system-wide competition
2 - $1,000 runners up
1 - $500 People's Choice winner

Visit the Graduate Division website for the full Final Round Program


[back to top]

Rules, Judging, & Scoring


No more slide restrictions (mostly)
More diverse judging panels
Revised scoring rubric

See below for more information

Lauren Menzer, 2018 Grad Slam Runner UpPRESENTERS

Eligibility: All graduate students currently enrolled in UCSB Master’s or doctoral graduate programs are eligible to participate.

Collaboration: In cases of collaborative research, the presenter’s individual contribution to the project must be salient and clearly specified.


By signing up, presenters agree to allow the UCSB Graduate Division to use their photos and videos for publicity surrounding the contest and/or in other contexts, such as promotional materials, website, etc. If you have questions or concerns about making your presentation publicly available, please contact Shawn Warner.


Presentation slides are allowed but not required. There are no longer any restrictions on the number and content of slides that presenters may use. However, we request that all presenters use Google Slides if they are creating visuals to accompany their talk.

We hope that these changes will allow participants to think critically and creatively about what types of visuals (if any) will best support the content of their talk. Please note that slides must be original to the student and cannot be generated by a professional; inclusion of photos, visuals, charts, and graphics created by others is allowed but must be properly cited or attributed.

When creating slides, presenters may use the Google Slides template below as a starting point; however they are not restricted to the designs included in it. The template contains preloaded colors and fonts that follow UCSB's visual identity guidelinesPlease note that if slides are created using a platform other than Google Slides, the organizers cannot guarantee that they will be displayed correctly in the master slide deck.

Grad Slam Google Slides Template Thumbnail

IMPORTANT NOTE: At the UC-wide competition, there will be different rules for the use of visuals. Presenters are allowed only one slide but they are allowed to use animation. The judging rubric section on visuals will be eliminated. The Graduate Division will work to support UCSB's campus champion in adapting their visuals, if any, to meet these standards.


Veronica Laos, 2018 Grad Slam finalist (1) Presentations should be no more than 3 minutes total in length. The talk timer begins when the student starts talking. For the preliminary rounds, a member of the Graduate Division will be seated in the front row with an iPad timer that presenters may use for reference during their talk. If the presentation is longer than 3 minutes, points will be deducted from the final score as follows (not to exceed a total of 10 points deducted for timing penalties):

  • 3:03-3:05 - 1 point deducted
  • 3:06-3:08 - 2 points deducted
  • 3:09-3:11 - 3 points deducted
  • 3:12-3:14 - 4 points deducted
  • 3:15-3:17 - 5 points deducted
  • etc.


2023 Grad Slam scorecard sampleJudging for the Preliminary Rounds will take place live and in person. Judging for the Final Round Showcase will take place asynchronously ahead of time based on recorded versions of talks, and the winners will be announced live at the Final Round.

In order to reflect a diversity of audiences, all judging panels will be comprised of a mix of faculty, staff, students (grad and undergrad), and community members. Judges are selected to ensure disciplinary and professional diversity, and every effort will be made to minimize conflicts of interest.

All presentations will be judged according to our new scoring rubric. There are 4 areas for evaluation on the scorecard, each adding up to 5 points for a highest possible total score of 20 points. The four categories are:

  1. Accessibility: The presenter translated their research and its disciplinary significance into language that all of us can understand
  2. Organization: The presenter delivered a talk that followed a clear and logical sequence
  3. Delivery: The presenter delivered the talk with an effective performance style in terms of body language, eye contact, expression, volume, and pace
  4. Engagement: The presenter conveyed enthusiasm for their research and captured and maintained the audience’s attention

Note that presenters will no longer be judged on their visuals and the former criteria have been streamlined into these new categories in order to evaluate the types of skills we aim to train students on. 

Additionally, there is space at the bottom of the scorecard for judges to enter their written feedback for presenters as well. This feedback, along with the scores, will be compiled and shared anonymously with students via email within one week after the round.


[back to top]


During Fall and Winter quarters, we hosted a variety of workshops that focused on developing students' presentation skills. Click below to access resources from these events:

Grad Slam workshop resources button


When you’re working on your research, every last detail seems important and worth sharing with others—whether they are familiar with your field or not. That’s why it’s important to practice how you talk about your research and to think about ways to get people interested and excited in what you do.


If your presentation includes visuals, make sure to select them carefully. You’ll want to find images or tables that are visually appealing and that emphasize key aspects of your work. Most importantly: strive for simplicity! Cluttering your slides with images and text can overwhelm your audience.


Giving a speech can be a nerve-racking experience, but it is important to practice this skill in order to become more confident and comfortable in front of others.


There are a number of discipline-specific resources that may help you as you prepare to communicate both inside and outside of your discipline.


[back to top]

Questions? Contact Shawn Warner, Director of Professional Development