Grad Slam Screening Judges

Screening Judges
These preliminary judges will review the video presentations submitted by students and will choose the finalists for the Grad Slam contest. See also the final judges, who will choose the winner and runner-up.


Michelle Arkin, PhD is associate professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at UCSF and associate director of UCSF's Small Molecule Discovery Center, a collaborative research and core lab that includes a high-throughput screening facility. Arkin’s lab seeks to address some of the most challenging problems in chemical biology and early-stage drug discovery. Her research focuses on developing new molecules that interact with proteins. By modulating biological processes, these new molecules teach us how cells function and how proteins cause disease. They can also serve as starting points for drug discovery. Arkin holds a PhD in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology.

Kaveh Ashrafi, PhD is associate professor of physiology at UCSF. His lab studies energy balance in intact organisms, primarily using C. elegans as an experimental system to investigate neural circuits that regulate feeding behavior, neuroendocrine regulators of fat metabolism, and how metabolic state regulates behavioral plasticity. Ashrafi got his PhD in molecular cell biology and biochemistry at Washington University School of Medicine and did a postdoc at Harvard Medical School. Read a May 2016 interview with Ashrafi from Synapse, the UCSF student newspaper.

Donna Barnes, PhD is a medical sociologist with a research focus on social issues for women with HIV and AIDS. She has conducted research on motherhood, reproductive decision-making, disclosure of HIV status, stigma and access to health care. Before retiring in 2009, Barnes taught women's studies for 16 years at California State University, East Bay. She received her PhD in sociology from UCSF, and is currently the president of the UCSF Graduate Division Alumni Association.

Anne Kavanagh, MS is director of communications and marketing for University Development and Alumni Relations at UCSF, where she oversees development and alumni communications vehicles related to fundraising and university advancement. She has a master's degree in journalism from University of Oregon. Read Kavanagh's article about UCSF's 150-year history of fighting tuberculosis from the fall 2014 edition of UCSF Magazine.

Jin Kim, PhD is a postdoctoral scholar at UCSF, conducting social and health psychology research with mentor Janice Tsoh, PhD. Kim received the top prize at UCSF's first-ever Postdoc Slam competition in September 2016, for her talk on “Promoting Smoking Cessation by Addressing Food Insecurity.” Kim received her PhD in social psychology from UC Davis.

Sudha Krishnamurthy, PhD is program director for the Office of Postdoctoral and Graduate Affairs at the Gladstone Institutes, where she works to ensure that postdocs receive the best scientific training and career mentoring year-round. Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, engaged in research on tumor progression models. She received her PhD in cancer biology and oral health sciences from the University of Michigan.

Barbara Panning, PhD is professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF. The Panning lab studies X chromosome inactivation and the role of epigenetic regulators in pluripotent stem cells. Barbara got her PhD in medical genetics at McMaster University and did a postdoc at MIT. Listen to a podcast of a 2012 interview with Panning on Carry the One Radio.

Alexandra Schnoes, PhD is a UCSF alumna and past president of the UCSF Graduate Division Alumni Association. She currently serves as associate director of career and professional development at iBiology, where she brings online career training to scientists. Previously, she was coordinator of the innovative Graduate Student Internships for Career Exploration (GSICE) program at UCSF, which enables graduate students to do internships outside of academic research. Schnoes received her PhD in biophysics from UCSF in 2008. Her doctoral research focused on computational problems relating to protein function prediction and evolution.

Joseph Wilson, PhD is a UCSF alumnus, and is currently STEM program manager at Tata Consultancy Services, working to expand Tata’s STEM and computer science outreach program in North America, which focuses on computational thinking and design thinking primarily in middle school years. Before that, he was managing director of Teach for America’s STEM Initiative, where he led efforts to support the largest, most diverse cohort of PK-12 STEM educators in the country. He received a PhD from the UCSF-UC Berkeley joint Bioengineering program.