uc davis chemical engineering grad slam phd student spencer dahl

Grad Slam Finalist Profile: Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Spencer Dahl

Meet Spencer Dahl, Chemical Engineering Graduate Student and Grad Slam Finalist

Originally posted by UC Davis Graduate Studies.

Graduate Studies is thrilled to announce the top ten finalists for the 2021 Grad Slam competition at the University of California, Davis.  At UC Grad Slam, master’s and doctoral students across UC campuses are challenged to share their research story, concisely and compellingly, in three minutes or less. 

This year’s competition was unique in it was completely virtual. Over 25 master’s and doctoral students submitted videos about their research. Volunteer faculty and staff judges reviewed and scored the videos based on the participants presentation skills.  The top ten scores were selected and will move forward to the campus final round on April 8. 

These top 10 finalists will present their research to a new panel of external judges and an external audience for a chance to win $2,500! The champion of the UC Davis Grad Slam competition will go on to compete with winners from other campuses at the UC Grad Slam annual competition held in May.

Spencer Dahl, a Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering, is one of this year's finalists. Learn more about him and his research below:

Spencer Dahl (he/him)

Program, Degree and Year of Study
Chemical Engineering, Ph.D., 3rd year

Research Interest
Lithium Ion Batteries

Previous Degrees and College
B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Montana State University
B.S. in Biological Engineering from Montana State University

Title of Grad Slam Presentation
The Battery Roadblock to Our Electric Vehicle Future

Describe your presentation style in three words.
Enthusiastic, Approachable, Accessible

What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam?
I watched Grad Slam videos from past years and talked with my friends and family about how to make my research more approachable for the general public.

What initially attracted you to your field of study?
I was excited to pivot into a new field of material science and explore relevant topics that could impact our energy storage future! Also, my advisor, Professor Ricardo Castro, is so passionate about his research that I was very excited to work with him and explore this field of study under his direction. 

Grad Slam is about presenting complex ideas for a general audience. Why would people want to learn more about your research?
Battery technology will likely be a critical part of our future if renewable energies are going to truly succeed and replace fossil fuels. It is an exciting time as researchers and companies race to find long term solutions to the instabilities currently found in batteries.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to ski, mountain bike, camp, and explore new places with my wife and our golden retriever!

Do you have any mentors who helped you develop your interest and strength in research communication? If so, how did they help you?
I have had several mentors that are able to change their presentation style for their audience and I was able to learn new skills from their presentations. I owe a lot of my writing and communication ability from their guidance and their focus on carefully crafting research presentations. Professor Castro is exceptional at communicating scientific ideas and always gives me great advice on how to effectively summarize my research.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to be in a research and development role for a company and help drive the overall scientific vision of the business. I am also still interested in teaching and academic research, so I hope to continue collaborations within universities.

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