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Students wow with brilliance — and brevity — at Grad Slam

2017 winner and UCLA graduate student Leslie Rith-Najarian receives her check in the crowning moment of Grad Slam from UC President and Grad Slam emcee Janet Napolitano. (Photo credit: Anastasiia Sapon)


A UCLA psychology student claimed the Grad Slam championship on May 4, explaining in three crisp and engaging minutes how her research into depression and anxiety led to development of an online tool to help college students cope with stress.

Leslie Rith-Najarian won the systemwide trophy — known as the Slammy — after edging out lightning-paced presentations on everything from building a tabletop particle accelerator to understanding how brain chemistry helps parents love their children.

Rith-Najarian, who became interested in addressing mental health issues after losing two friends to suicide when she was an undergrad, said she was encouraged by winning the top prize.

“A lot of time in grad school you are focusing on what needs to be improved, and you don’t spend much time thinking about why you got into this work in the first place,” Rith-Najarian said. “This reinforces for me the knowledge that this research is worth doing — that it matters.”

Read the full story and learn about the other winners.

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  1. Gerry Darden May 9, 2017 Reply

    What a great accomplishment! Kudos to Leslie for sticking with the important research. How do I access the link for the online tool? I have a niece attending college in the Fall and would like to share this very important resource.

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