It’s tough to make the reuse of stormwater a fascinating topic to most people. But UC Berkeley’s Joseph Charbonnet, a Ph.D. student in environmental engineering, did just that — and won UC’s 2018 Grad Slam.
Going head to head against the top grad student competitors from around the UC system, Charbonnet brought home the first place “Slammy” (a systemwide trophy) and a total of $9,000 in prize money for his three-minute talk — “A stormwater solution” — on using manganese-coated sand to capture, clean, and re-use stormwater, with the aim of diminishing storm damage and replenishing depleted aquifers.
The premise behind Grad Slam is that the best research in the world won’t mean much to other people —colleagues, funders and the public in general — if you can’t easily explain the importance of what you’re doing.
Charbonnet competed in the UC Grad Slam finals after winning the campus competition last month.
“I would recommend that every Ph.D. student see if they could explain their research and its value in three minutes or less to an audience that’s savvy yet unfamiliar with your field,” says Charbonnet. “This is true whether you’re in STEM or in the humanities, whether you’re interested in entrepreneurship or not.”