UC Merced Graduate Student Shayna Bennett Wins UC 2021 Grad Slam Competition


UC Merced Graduate Student Shayna Bennett Wins UC 2021 Grad Slam Competition

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May 7, 2021

Dear Campus Community, 

On behalf of the Graduate Division and the campus, we are excited to announce Applied Mathematics Ph.D. student Shayna Bennett was awarded first place in the University of California’s 2021 Grad Slam finale held this morning! Shayna won $7,000 and the systemwide trophy — known as the Slammy.

This is the campus’s first time winning the top prize! Shayna represented UC Merced along with finalists from our nine sister campuses. All presenters did an incredible job explaining their research in three engaging, jargon-free minutes. 

Shayna is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Professor Shilpa Khatri’s lab and studies numerical methods for partial differential equations to understand how landscape features such as rivers, roads and mountains affect the spreading rate and pattern of invasive species. She has competed in the campus’s Grad Slam competition for three years in a row, placing in the top 10 each time, including being the runner-up last year. 

A special thank you goes out to UC Merced Foundation Board diplomat Jane Binger, Ed.D., who coached Shayna to her victory!

Since 2017, Jane has graciously volunteered her time to assist UC Merced’s top 10 Grad Slam finalists and the eventual campus champions prepare for subsequent rounds of the competition. Jane and her husband, Robert Bernstein, M.D., a UC Merced Foundation trustee, have made generous donations to make the campus’s Grad Slam possible. 

If you missed the Grad Slam competition this morning, you can watch it here.

Congratulations, Shayna! We’re extremely proud of your accomplishment! Chris Kello, Ph.D.Interim Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate Division

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