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Grad Slam Finalist Profile: Biomedical Engineering Graduate Student Abby Nielsen

Meet Abby Niesen, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Student and Grad Slam Finalist

Image of Abby Nielsen. Text: A Knee'd for Individualized Care and Implant Longevity. Abby Nielsen, Ph.D. Candidate in Biomedical Engineering. Grad Slam 2021 UC Davis Finalist

Abby Niesen (she/her) 

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

Research Interest
Orthopedic Biomechanics

Previous Degrees and College
B.S. in Civil Engineering from Tufts University
M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California, Davis

Title of Grad Slam Presentation
A Knee’d For Individualized Care and Implant Longevity

Describe your presentation style in three words.
Clear, Engaging, Informative

What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam?
To prepare for Grad Slam, I attended many of the workshops offered by Grad Pathways Institute focused on presentation structure and tips for making presentations more engaging. I also completed an online course over the summer titled, "Share Your Research: How to Give a Good Talk" which reinforced many of these concepts.

What initially attracted you to your field of study?
I originally received my bachelor's degree in civil engineering studying the mechanics of structures, but in my spare time I'm very active and enjoy hiking, biking, rock climbing. These pastimes made me start thinking of the human body as a mechanical structure, as it is also subjected to loading which can lead to injury. The field of orthopedic biomechanics allows me to combine engineering and clinical science resulting in a perfect fit!

Grad Slam is about presenting complex ideas for a general audience. Why would people want to learn more about your research?
My research is very relatable since I work directly with patients undergoing knee replacement surgery, a common surgical procedure that impacts about 1 million Americans with advanced knee osteoarthritis each year. Hence, my research has the ability to impact anyone who will develop knee osteoarthritis and require a knee replacement in the future.

What do you like to do in your free time? 
When I'm feeling active, I enjoy rock climbing at Rocknasium and The Boulder Field, hiking near Lake Tahoe, or biking around Davis. At home, I get crafty with DIY home projects (anything that involves wood and paint) and experiment with new recipes (like homemade pizza) in the kitchen.

Do you have any mentors who helped you develop your interest and strength in research communication? If so, how did they help you?
My research advisor taught me that research is most impactful when it is effectively communicated with others, which is especially true for my project since I have the responsibility of calling prospective patients, explaining the goals of my project, and asking if they are interested in enrolling in my study. This is one of the main reasons I decided to improve my scientific communication skills for general audiences. Overall, I learned that the most important thing when communicating science is to think about your audience whether they are your colleagues, clinical staff, or even your parents and use terminology that makes sense for the situation.

Learn More About UC Davis Grad Slam Finalists

Good luck at the competition, Abby. 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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