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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Summer 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer
Shawn Warner-Garcia

Mon-Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Writing Peer & Funding Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon, Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Communications Peer
Melissa Rapp

Mon: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Charles Williams

By appointment

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.



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Increase Your Productivity at the Dissertation Writer's Room

Five out of five Peer Advisors agree: the Dissertation Writer's Room is where you go to get stuff done. Whether you are completing the final round of revisions to your dissertation, or writing your first graduate seminar paper, the Writer's Room allows you to write alongside your fellow graduate students instead of in isolation.

This summer, the Writer's Room will be open four days a week from Monday, June 22, through Thursday, September 10. The days and times are:

Mondays and Wednesdays: 1-4 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9 a.m.-noon

The Writer's Room is hosted in various locations in the Student Resource Building (though most will be in Room 1103). Check out the calendars below, or access the GradPost's Google calendar here or here, for more information. If you have any questions about this service, or suggestions for other career resources, please email Robert Hamm.


New Professional Development and Mentorship Resource for Graduate Students and Postdocs

There are new professional development resources coming your way! UCSB is now an institutional member of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), an independent professional development, training, and mentoring community of over 71,000 graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members. NCFDD membership provides a series of mentoring services, including workshops focused on research and writing strategies, networking opportunities, and other forms of professional support and development. With institutional support from Susan Carlson, Vice Provost for Academic Personnel in the University of California Office of the President, as well as UCSB’s Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor, UCSB graduate students and postdocs will be able to take advantage of NCFDD programming and resources free of charge.

To activate your institutionally sponsored membership:

  1. Go to the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity website.
  2. Select the “Become a Member” tab and choose “Individual Membership.”
  3. On the Individual Membership page, select “Join Now.”
  4. On the “Select Your Member Type” page, select “Institutional Sub-Account.”
  5. On the “Select a Username” page, use your institution-issued email address in the Username box.
  6. Complete the registration process.
  7. You will receive a welcome email within 24 business hours confirming that your account is now active and you can begin fully using your new NCFDD membership.

For questions, please contact María Herrera-Sobek, UCSB's Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Academic Services.


UCSB's STEMposium 2015 in Pictures

For those of you who missed the inaugural 2015 STEMposium on May 22, below you can find a pictorial tale of seminar awards, keynote speakers, and undergraduate poster session winners.

STEMposium was created to promote quality scientific presentation and interdisciplinary collaboration. The event seeks to bring together members from various science and engineering departments in the presence of academic and industry sponsors.

STEMposium 2015 was co-hosted by three student-founded seminars: the Chemical Sciences Student Seminar (CSSS), the Graduate Simulation Seminar Series (GSSS), and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).


Hovik Gukasyan, Ph.D., presented the keynote talk on personalized-chemotherapy drug development at Pfizer.

Hovik GukasyanHovik Gukasyan giving his keynote at STEMposium. Photo courtesy of STEMposium

Founding Talk

Peter Burks (UCSB Chemistry and Biochemistry Ph.D., 2013) founded CSSS in 2012. He came back to give the CSSS Founding Talk.

Peter BurksPeter Burks giving the CSSS Founding Talk. Photo courtesy of STEMposium

Undergraduate Poster Winner

Michael Abramovitch (undergraduate, Chemical Engineering) won the best poster award at the STEMPosium plus an all-expense-paid travel grant by CSEP (Center for Science and Engineering Partners) to present his work at a conference of his choosing.

Michael Abramovitch (left) explaining his work to Brian Lynch (right) during the undergraduate poster session judging. Photo courtesy of STEMposium

CSSS Winners

There were three winners for the Chemical Science Student Seminar: third prize, Saemi Poelma; second prize, Oleksandr (Alex) Mikhnenko; and first prize, Peter Mage. Awards were based on audience votes over the course of 12 weeks and 24 speakers, in the fall and winter quarters.

CSSS winnersSaemi Poelma (left), Oleksandr (Alex) Mikhnenko (middle) and Peter Mage (right). Photo courtesy of STEMposium


The UCSB STEMPosium was organized by an enterprising group of graduate students from the three student-founded seminars: Tawny Lim (Math, SIAM), Derek Smith (Math, SIAM), Dayton Horvath (Chemistry, CSSS), Izzy Jarvis (Chemistry, CSSS), Nate Kirchhofer (Materials, CSSS), Brian Lynch (Chemical Engineering, GSSS), David Smith (Chemical Engineering, GSSS), and Jon Lin (SIAM, Math Ph.D.).

STEMposium organizersFrom left, Tawny Lim, Derek Smith, Dayton Horvath, Izzy Jarvis, Nate Kirchhofer, Brian Lynch, David Smith, Jon Lin. Photo courtesy of STEMposium

For more photos of STEMposium 2015, click here.


Become a Team Member for UCSB's 2016 Beyond Academia Conference

Following the success of the inaugural Beyond Academia conference at UCSB on May 15, the organizing committee is now recruiting graduate students and postdocs to join the team for next year’s conference. As a recent piece on the Naturejobs blog points out, organizing events such as this one offers trainees an opportunity to develop transferable skills attractive to careers both inside and outside of the academy.

If you are considering a nonacademic career or simply curious about career options for Ph.D.s, we encourage you to get involved with Beyond Academia. The organizing team handles all aspects of the conference, including:

  • Identifying and inviting speakers
  • Organizing panels and workshops
  • Marketing the event
  • Social media and blogging
  • Venue and materials
  • And more

Join the Beyond Academia team and gain valuable experience with team-based project management and event organization, as well as numerous opportunities to broaden your personal and professional networks, learn about a variety of rewarding careers, and work with a talented, interdisciplinary team of graduate students and postdocs.

If you are interested in learning more about the conference or joining the organizing team, please fill out this form by Friday, July 3.



Prepare a Successful National Science Foundation Fellowship Application

Are you interested in winning a National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowship? Then learn how in this article, "Preparing an Award-Winning NSF GRFP Application," by Alex Williams.

Alex gives insights about how he started preparing six months in advance of the deadline. His three secret ingredients for NSF fellowship success? Preparation, research, and networking.

If you're serious about getting that free ride from the NSF, then check out his article today.


Beyond Academia Conference Offers Resource Page for Non-Academic Careers

Following the success of the inaugural Beyond Academia conference at UCSB on May 15, organizers have compiled an extensive and handy list of career resources for those interested in finding out more about non-academic careers. Whether you are just starting to explore options or you are on the job market and wanting to develop skills like networking and negotiating, this resource page is a valuable tool for graduate students and postdocs alike. You'll find information about campus programs, online communities, and blogs dedicated to helping Ph.D.s find work outside of academia.

Check out the resource page here!


Versatile Ph.D. Hosts Online Panel Discussion June 8-12: 'Careers in Marketing for STEM Ph.D.s'

Versatile Ph.D. will host a free web-based asynchronous panel discussion on "Careers in Marketing for STEM Ph.D.s" beginning June 8. All panelists are Ph.D.s from STEM fields, including:

  • a Market Insight Manager at a health insurance company
  • a Marketing Development Manager at Eastman Kodak
  • a Data Scientist at a marketing agency
  • an Associate Medical Director at a pharmaceutical marketing agency
  • a Senior Manager at a global research company who has a great deal of marketing responsibility

You can interact with panelists throughout the week on the site, or follow the discussion via email. All questions welcome, from the most general to the very specific. As a UCSB graduate student, you have free access to the information and resources on the Versatile Ph.D. website. To learn more about accessing its premium content, such as the panel discussions, follow these simple instructions provided by the Graduate Division.


How to Email Your Professor for a Letter of Reference

Now that you have chosen the perfect professor to recommend you for your prize position, you are probably wondering how to word a request for a reference. Below you will find a few tips for style and content that should get you the letter you need.

Letter of reference

Time frame: About 5-6 weeks before your reference is due, email your professor.

Tone: Address the professor by title, if you are not on a first name basis.

Subject Line: Write “Recommendation for [Your Name].”

First Paragraph: Get right to the point. Say, "I am writing to ask if you would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for me."

In the next few sentences, lay out the facts:

  • Your name
  • Year in school (or were in school)
  • Major
  • Which course or courses you took with this professor, when, and what grade you earned
  • Why you need a recommendation (i.e., what you are applying for)
  • When the letter is due

Second Paragraph: Explain why you chose your professor. Outline your relationship together and point out why you have asked him or her specifically to recommend you. Tell a little about yourself and why you are interested in the scholarship, graduate program, or job for which you need the reference.

  • Be enthusiastic. Example: "I chose to apply to this museum because I was extremely excited about their tribal artifacts department."
  • Be relevant. Does this professor have any special connection with the place you need a recommendation? If so, include it.
  • Be honest. If your professor influenced your choice, say so in the letter: "I had not considered going into research until I took your cell biology class.”

If the professor agrees, you can follow up with all the necessary information for writing a reference: addresses, writing samples, resume, and any other relevant materials.

For more information, see these great resources below:

How to Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation

How to Ask Your Professor for a Letter of Recommendation via Email

How to ask for a reference letter


For Your Non-Academic Career, Do You Know Your Holland Code?

Are you considering a career outside of academia, but are not sure what jobs you are suited for? Then you might want to figure out your Holland Code, a three letter code based on six RIASEC categories: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional.

For example, you might be an easygoing ARS (Artistic, Realistic, Social) or maybe cold as ICE (Investigative, Conventional, Enterprising). You can see what each category means in the chart (below).

The assessment, also known as the Strong Interest Inventory or Holland Occupational Themes, shows your personality type and can help your define your career choices outside of academia.

To figure out your Holland Code, you can take the Strong Interest Inventory assessment offered by Career Services. It takes about 30 minutes to do online and costs only $20 for UCSB students, which includes a counseling session to interpret your results. For a free assessment, try this test online here.

To get an idea of careers based on a single individual code, check out this list from Career Services.

Holland Codes and their meanings. Image courtesy of Career Services


Are Community College Teaching Jobs Stepping Stones to University Positions?

In a recent article, on Chronicle Vitae, Robert Jenkins posed the question "Can a Community College Job Be a 'Steppingstone'?"

The short answer is no. A community college job is not a step to your tenured job at a four year college.

On the other hand, community colleges make up about 40 percent of the available faculty jobs out there (some of them tenured jobs) and it would not be wise to overlook them in your quest for full-time employment.

For more on working at community colleges, check out Jenkins' article.

For another viewpoint on the issue, check out this Monkees video: Steppin' Stone.