Making an Impact in Research: Advice from Experience, Pitch Slams from Grad Students

Sometimes there’s just too much going on at UC Davis. Today, you could hear from two groups of researchers at very different points in their careers, looking to make an impact and talking about how to have an impact with research.

Today’s UC Davis Research Expo was put on by the Office of Research with the theme “Pathways to Impact”. This afternoon, the Office of Graduate Studies hosted the final UC Davis round of the Grad Slam competition.

Panel discussion

A panel of accomplished UC Davis scientists (and one classicist) discuss how to make an impact with your research at the UC Davis Research Expo, April 5, 2018.

At the Expo, a panel of accomplished UC Davis scientists (and one classicist) talked about how to be successful and make an impact with your research. The expo continued this afternoon with more workshops and exhibits of UC Davis research centers and facilities.

The panel included Jan Nolta, director of the Stem Cell Program at the UC Davis School of Medicine; John Morrison, neurologist and director of the California National Primate Research Center; Jonna Mazet, director of the One Health Institute at the School of Veterinary Medicine and of the PREDICT program; Kent Lloyd, director of the Mouse Biology Program and associate director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center; Raissa D’Souza, professor of Computer Science and of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter, who also holds an appointment as a professor of Classics. The panel was chaired by Cameron Carter, interim vice chancellor for research and himself a neuroscientist.

Some of these scientists had taken less direct routes on their research careers. Nolta said that being involved as a student with one of the first clinical trials of cord blood cell therapy had changed the direction of her research. Lloyd said that he had thought about a career in law before going into medicine, becoming a surgeon, then engaging in research that led him into mouse biology.

Hexter joked that as a scholar of Classics, his research did not have the impact of a medical breakthrough; but that impact in your own field is also important, especially if you open new areas for others to explore.

“A measure of impact in your field is how your work is surpassed by others,” he said.

Mazet said that the success of the PREDICT program is often gauged by the thousands of new viruses identified by the world-wide network. But to her, the most significant impact of the program is the training of more than 5,000 scientists around the world and what they can do for their countries and regions.

An emerging theme: Follow the path that you feel passionate about, and make time for the most important tasks.

Grad Slam: Three minutes to impress an audience

Over at the Grad Slam this afternoon, ten graduate students from across the campus were looking to make an impact as they begin their careers in fields from neuroscience to nursing and from animal biology to anthropology.

The format of Grad Slam is a three minute presentation to explain their thesis work for a lay audience.

The competition began two months ago with 80 entries from UC Davis’ 99 graduate programs. The winner of the UC Davis round will go on to compete in the UC-wide competition May 3, to be emceed by UC President Janet Napolitano.

Here are the prize winners:

Congratulations to all the winners and good luck to Tooka in the UC-wide final! To all the competitors, we’re sure you’ll make an impact whatever path you follow in your careers.

More information about Grad Slam

An Important Announcement about UC Davis Grad Slam from the Vice Provost and Dean (Office of Graduate Studies)

UC Grad Slam: Mind Bending Research, Made Simple (University of California)

UC Davis Grad Slam




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