Political Science Graduate Student Wins Audience Vote in Grad Slam

Photo: UC Davis political science grad student talking to audience
Nahrain Rasho, a doctoral candidate in political science, gives a quick overview of her research on ethnic conflict and policies aimed at reducing tensions between groups. She placed third and won People's Choice in the 2019 UC Davis Grad Slam competition. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Nahrain Rasho, a doctoral candidate in political science who studies ethnic conflict and policies to reduce it, won People’s Choice and placed third Wednesday in the UC Davis Grad Slam.

Photo of UC Davis political science student receiving small trophy
Nahrain Rasho receives her third-place trophy from Jean-Pierre Delplanque, vice provost and dean  of UC Davis graduate studies. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Rasho was the second College of Letters and Science finalist in two years to win the People’s Choice award in the annual research communication competition. Last year’s People’s Choice winner was anthropology graduate student Mayowa Adegboyega.

Three-minute talks

Started in 2015, Grad Slam aims to make research accessible by providing emerging scientists and scholars with the skills to engage the public in their work.

Participants are judged on how well they engage the audience, how clearly they communicate key concepts and how effectively they focus and present their ideas — all in three minutes or less.

Policies' unintended consequences

Rasho’s talk was titled “Regional Autonomy and Local Conflict.” The daughter of Assyrian refugees from Iraq, she said she has a personal connection to her research. Rasho spoke about the unintended effects of actions implemented across broad regions, which can sometimes increase tensions between local groups. For example, policies supporting Kurdish nationalism in Iraq did not address conflicts between Assyrians and Kurds. 

Photo of UC Davis chemistry graduate student giving talk at Grad Slam
Chemistry graduate student Fatima Hussain talks about her research on combatting oil spill damage. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

She received $750 for placing third and $500 for People’s Choice. Second place winner Riley Hughes, nutritional biology, won $1,500. Champion Kathie Murphy, plant biology, received $2,500 and will represent UC Davis at the May 10 UC-wide Grad Slam, where the grand prize is $5,000.

Chemistry and oil spills

Fatima Hussain, a graduate student in chemistry, was also one of the 10 finalists in the 2019 UC Davis Grad Slam. Her presentation focused on combatting oil spill damage.