From UCLA grad students learn the art of plain-speaking | February 29, 2016
At one of several small-group coaching workshops, Grad Slam participants, including molecular biology Ph.D. student Courtney Young, practiced early versions of their speeches before peers and UCLA Writing Programs lecturer Liz Galvin, who specializes in academic presentations.Unlike Ludeke, who attended despite her trepidation, Young, now a semifinalist,signed up because the event sounded fun.
She also hopes to raise awareness about Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative muscle disease afflicting her cousin, who inspired Young's search for a cure through gene-editing research. In her presentation, Young mentioned her personal motivation for beginning the research and explained that Duchenne symptoms are caused by a genetic inability to produce a necessary protein that she compared to an anchor.
When Young finished with 25 seconds to spare, the faculty coach encouraged her to explain her 'anchor' metaphor in more detail. "I was a little lost about which part of the muscle is representing the boat or the anchor," Galvin said. "So that could be two extra sentences."
Young nodded and jotted down notes. "I have no problem giving science talks, but I need help giving non-scientific talks and simple elevator pitches," the grad student said after the coaching workshop. "It helped today to hear from people outside my field about what made sense. I spend a lot of my time with other biology students who already know what I'm talking about."