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Grad Slam Finalist Profile: Animal Behavior Graduate Student Amelia Munson

Meet Amelia Munson, Animal Behavior Graduate Student and Grad Slam Finalist

Amelia Munson (she/her)

Program, Degree, and Year of Study
Animal Behavior, Ph.D., 6th year

Research Interest
Developmental Plasticity

Previous Degree(s) and College(s)
B.A. in Biology from Reed College, A.A. in Biology and Management of Zoo Animals from Portland Community College

Title of Grad Slam Presentation
Does What Doesn't Kill You Really Make You Stronger?

Describe your presentation style in three words
Enthusiastic, Fun, Fishy

What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam?
I "forced" my dog to listen to way more stories about developmental stress in fish then he would like.

If you are a returning Grad Slammer, what made you want to compete again?
Because of the pandemic I wasn't able to put into practice all the advice I got from the judges last year. I am excited to do that this time around!

What initially attracted you to your field of study?
My bird was my best friend growing up—she even "played" board games with me. I wanted to understand her completely. I now work with fish, but the desire to understand animals in their own language still fascinates me. 

Grad Slam is about presenting complex ideas for a general audience. Why would people want to learn more about your research?
Fish are amazing. But if that isn't reason enough, I am really interested in how experiences shape who we are. I am particularly excited about how stressful situations shape long term behavior. If you are currently going through a stressful situation, like a year long global pandemic, my research may be of interest to you!

What do you like to do in your free time?
Go on adventures, which sometimes means multi-day backpacking trips and other times means getting lost in a good book.
Do you have any mentors who helped you develop your interest and strength in research communication? If so, how did they help you?
I learned a ton from working at zoos but at UC Davis, Laci Gerhart in the ecology department has been a huge part of helping me develop as a communicator. She has really helped me to appreciate the type of public speaker that I am and to be myself. Watching her teach has helped me to understand how important sharing enthusiasm is along with just sharing knowledge.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would love to teach at a liberal arts college where I get to continue doing research on developmental stress in fish and mentor the next generation of scientists. I will also hopefully have climbed a few more mountains and maybe even written a graphic novel.

Learn More About UC Davis Grad Slam Finalists

Good luck at the competition, Amelia. Be sure to read all of the Grad Slam Finalist Profiles

Watch the Final Round Virtual Competition

This year, the continuing COVID-19 pandemic has added a new video component to the already challenging public speaking event. The finalists will compete against each other at the UC Davis Final Round during National Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week. Cheer on the Grad Slam finalists virtually on Thursday, April 8, from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. RSVP to reserve your spot!

The winner of the campus final round will have the opportunity to compete at the University of California-wide competition on May 7.  In 2019, UC Davis champion and Plant Biology Ph.D. candidate Katie Murphy went on to win the top University of California prize of $6,000. Visit the Grad Slam website to learn more about UC Davis Grad Slam. 

UC Davis Grad Slam Sponsors

Graduate Studies would like to thank this year's UC Davis Grad Slam sponsors for their generosity and support.

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