Meet the Judges
Amanda del Castillo
Amanda del Castillo is an Emmy Award-winning reporter for ABC7 News. She has spent the last decade traveling the country and telling impactful stories from Wyoming to Texas, and from Denver back to the Bay Area. She believes there's always a story to tell, interviewing people suffering from the worst of the pandemic to 49ers fans cheering on their team at Super Bowl 54 in Miami, and everything in between. She values the power of communication and recognizes the weight our words carry. Amanda graduated from San Jose State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communications in December 2012. As a San Francisco native, she is thrilled to be back in the Bay Area with her husband and one-year-old son and is honored to be telling stories about the place she calls home.
Lupe Franco (she/her/ella) is the 2021 SJSU Grad Slam winner as well as the CSU Grad Slam People's Choice Award winner and will be representing SJSU at the Western Association of Graduate Schools at their upcoming annual conference in late March. Lupe graduated from SJSU with an MS in Environmental Studies in 2021 and is now in her first year in the Ph.D. Geography program at UC Davis (unceded Patwin land). She is a social scientist doing work on the connections between climate change and environmental justice and has a current focus on the impacts that climate change will have on the well-being of unhoused populations. Lupe hopes that with this work she can bring awareness and develop action-oriented research that will address the injustices faced by the most vulnerable. Following our Grad Slam tradition, our first-place winner from the previous Grad Slam is invited back as a judge.
Meenakshi Goel is a Principal Scientific Researcher in the Department of Small Molecule Pharmaceutical Sciences at Genentech, a member of Roche Pharmaceuticals, a leading international biotechnology company. As an analytical chemist, she supports research, development, and clinical manufacturing of best-in-class therapeutics using state-of-the-art analytical techniques like High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography, Gas Chromatography, High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry, Supercritical fluid chromatography, multi-dimensional liquid chromatography and more. Meenakshi is an author on several research articles in the fields of two-dimensional liquid chromatography-supercritical fluid chromatography and accelerated release of peptide from long-acting polymer matrix. Meenakshi is also a team member of the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) representation pillar at Genentech and serves as a University Ambassador for her department to reach out to different universities for recruitment and building connections with eligible students. Meenakshi is the recipient of the 2021 Key Researcher Award at Genentech in recognition of her key contributions to the clinical manufacturing of a new drug candidate. Meenakshi graduated from SJSU with a Master's in Chemistry in 2009. Her graduate research was on the synthesis of inositol-glycans with selective anti-cancer activity. She was the second-place winner of the 2010 Annual California State University Student Research Competition. Outside of work Meenakshi volunteers for HSS, a non-profit social Hindu organization, enjoys spending time with her family, loves gardening and cooking.
Matthew Spangler is Professor of Performance Studies and Interim Chair of the Film & Theatre Department at San José State. His teaching and research publications are in the areas of immigration studies, intercultural theatre, scriptwriting, and Irish Studies. He is also an award-winning playwright. His adaptation of The Kite Runner will open on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre in July. His plays have been produced in London’s West End, off-Broadway, at the Dubai Opera House, and at many theatres throughout the United States and worldwide. Dr. Spangler was the recipient of SJSU’s President’s Scholar Award in 2021, an annual award given to a faculty member who has achieved widespread recognition based on the quality of their scholarship, or creativity activities.