Youyou in front of the Golden Gate Bridge

Meet the Grad Slam Finalists: Youyou Zhang

UC Davis Grad Slam Finalists

Quick Summary

  • Meet Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate student Youyou Zhang.

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Youyou Zhang

Program, Degree & Year of Study:  
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D., 2nd year

Previous Degree(s) & College(s): 
Master's in Civil Engineering, Tongji University

Research Interest: 
Bridge engineering

Title of Grad Slam Presentation: 
Research on Bridge Deck Replacement Method

What initially attracted you to your field of study?
I think designing structures, like tall buildings and beautiful bridges, is an exciting thing!

What did you do to prepare for Grad Slam? 
I reviewed my research carefully, and logically presented my research in the PowerPoint. Besides, I practiced the presentation many times.

Did you encounter any obstacles while preparing for Grad Slam? How did you overcome them?
Right now, I think the whole process is smooth. Maybe the biggest challenge is how to fully explain my research using only 3 slides and make sure that my language can be understood by general public. I only present the key concepts of my research and I abandoned the specific technical part. And I record my presentation and listen to my speaking repeatedly, to ensure that I didn't use specialized terminology and the whole story sounds like understandable.

What do you think sets you and your presentation apart from the other contestants? 
I think my presentation is very straightforward. I only use a few pictures, and I only explain the most important concepts. I think illustrating the key points of my research is enough for a 3-minute presentation. Besides, although I am not a native speaker, I perform very confidently. Maybe my confidence is another merit.

What are your other passions/hobbies? 
Playing the violin, table tennis and reading.

UC Grad Slam is an annual contest in which master’s and Ph.D. students across UC campuses – in disciplines ranging from hard sciences to humanities – compete to sum up their research for a general audience. Students present the significance and fundamental points of their work at UC Davis in a clear, direct and interesting manner.

Over 80 master's and doctoral students from across UC Davis' 99 graduate programs submitted proposals for this year's competition, which kicked off with a qualifying round on February 28 at the ARC. Faculty and staff from across UC Davis volunteered to serve on the judging panels.

The finalists will compete against each other at the UC Davis Final Round at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art on April 14 from 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public, and is co-sponsored by the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. Registration is now open at

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