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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Spring 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer, Shawn Warner-Garcia
Monday: 10 a.m. to noon
Wednesday: 10 a.m. to noon
Friday: 10 a.m. to noon

Funding Peer, Kyle Crocco
Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Writing Peer, Ryan Dippre
Monday: 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Tuesday: 9 to 11 a.m., 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Communications Peer, Melissa Rapp
Monday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Thursday: 2 to 4 p.m.

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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Monday
Apr202015

Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Melissa Barthelemy Pays it Forward to UCSB

Melissa portraitMelissa Barthelemy. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyWhen the childhood home of Melissa Barthelemy, a sixth-year graduate student of Public History, burned down in Ojai when she was eight years old, she and her family may have initially thought they only escaped with a few photo albums. But, what they eventually learned was they had gained life lessons in community, compassion, and the generosity of others.

They found an outpouring of community support as neighbors and others offered mattresses, clothing and all sorts of items to help them in their time of need.

Little did Melissa know that, years later, she would use those lessons to pay it forward by first helping UCSB students cope with their trauma in the wake of the Isla Vista Tragedy of May 23, and then by creating a collection of items to remember the victims and document the campus and community response.

I sat down with Melissa Barthelemy to discuss her work with the IV/UCSB Memorial Preservation Project and the upcoming exhibition for which she is serving as project manager and curator, which is titled “We Remember Them: Acts of Love and Compassion in Isla Vista.” The exhibit will be open to the public for viewings from May 20-June 20 in the Red Barn (Old Gym) near the bus circle on campus. (You can find more information about Melissa and the Remembrance Projects she is engaged in at www.melissabarthelemy.com)

She was forthcoming about her involvement in the project, her own struggles as a graduate student, and the unique circumstances of her childhood, growing up in the back room of her parents' toy store.

So let’s start with your current work. How did you become involved in the IV/UCSB Memorial Preservation Project?

In the immediate wake of the tragedy my initial concern was how to best support the graduate and undergraduate students at UCSB. I contacted Turi Honegger, Assistant Clinical Director of CAPS (Counseling And Psychological Services), at UCSB. I strongly felt we needed a special crisis training session for the graduate students since it is common for undergraduates to approach their Teaching Assistants before turning to faculty and staff for support and assistance. Turi agreed to help me organize this, and we had many email conversations that lasted until 2 a.m. in the days following the tragedy. A small group of us managed to organize two workshop sessions that were held on Tuesday, May 27 and were attended by over 140 people.

Melissa at MemorialMelissa at the Memorial Wall on the Arbor. Photo courtesy of Melissa Barthelemy

That weekend I also worked closely with community members in Isla Vista to figure out what systems of support were needed there. Some UCSB students told me that they wanted a space in the Arbor that could focus on art and healing and that they thought it was important to have a memorial space on the actual campus. With the support of the Office of Student Life and Associate Dean Katya Armistead we created the Memorial Wall at The Arbor which is a painted wooden structure that is covered in dozens of messages of compassion and solidarity. While working on the space, students asked me, “What’s going to happen to the memorial sites in IV? Will all of the items at the sites be thrown away?”  

So I asked the Interim Director of Special Collections, at the UCSB Library, if they had any plans to form a collection. He said that librarians generally receive items that are donated but don’t go out in the community to collect them, and that I was the first person to approach him about this. He then asked me to convene a committee of librarians, faculty, and students to support the project.

Spontaneous memorialSpontaneous memorial site in IV. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyI was hesitant at first because I was so busy. But I visited the spontaneous memorial sites in Isla Vista to look more closely at what was there. One day, I went to the site in front of Capri Apartments and I saw cards blowing down the street in the wind. I came across a card written by one of the victims' parents and I decided these items really needed to be saved for the benefit of the families, friends, and the wider community. At that moment I decided to take the project on and have never looked back.

Tell me more about the upcoming exhibition “We Remember Them: Acts of Love and Compassion in Isla Vista.” 

The central premise of the exhibit is that each of the individual items left at the spontaneous memorial sites in Isla Vista are representative of the acts of love and compassion that poured out from our community and around the world.

Pained rocksPainted rocks for exhibition. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyWe will be exhibiting some of these items, which include things such as cards, letters, drawings, paintings, origami cranes, and painted rocks. We will also display photographs of the spontaneous and planned memorial events, as well as highlight some of the larger discourses that circulated in the wake of the tragedy and contributed to legislative reforms.

We are striving to create a space for healing and reflection. In the words of one of my colleagues “the exhibit remembers those who died and those who were injured, and it tells the story of a community empowered by its own humanity in reacting to a collective loss.”

What has the response been to your work so far?  When people hear about the premise of the exhibit they are supportive. But until recently we were reluctant to spread the word too much about the exhibit since the campus administration is still coordinating the series of events that will happen around the Remembrance Anniversary.

Have you ever done something like this before? No! I did serve as a volunteer for a museum when I was in law school. But really I’m learning on the fly.

How has this affected your research?

Melissa with Ben FranklinMelissa with Ben Franklin. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyI changed my whole dissertation topic as a result of this project. My focus is now on Public History, which is a branch of History that is largely focused on educating the public about historical issues.

Some public historians primarily teach at universities, others can be found working in a range of locations including archives and library special collections, community history and historic preservation, museum exhibition and historical commemoration.

My dissertation project is still evolving but at least one chapter of it will examine the upcoming exhibit, so we will be having videographers and photographers document what we create in the exhibit site. That way I can integrate Digital Humanities directly into my dissertation by using these digital technologies to discuss my curatorial decisions and aspects of the exhibit. This documentation will also eventually become part of our digital collection at the UCSB Library website.   

Let’s turn to your life now. Aside from this event, what one event has had the biggest impact or influence on you and helped shape who you are today?

Melissa's parentsMelissa's parents dressed for Halloween in front of their toy store. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyMy parents have shaped me the most. From the way I approach life, to my core values and beliefs. My parents have owned a little toy store for 35 years in Ojai and I literally grew up in the back office of their business, which was more of a play room for me. I was surrounded by Slinkies and Silly Putty.

My favorite quote from them is “The only constant in life is change.” They have this quote on a sticker, which they placed on their cash register at their toy store, where they give customers change all day long. They have a real quirky sense of humor.

They always emphasized that you can’t fully anticipate what’s around the next bend. My parents’ house burned down when I was eight years old. All we saved were some photo albums. That was very helpful (and horrible) for my ability to respond when tragedy happens. It made us close and brought us together as a family.

It also taught me about the importance of community since people brought us 10 mattresses for beds, dozens of frying pans and lots of other things we couldn’t use while were temporarily staying in a hotel. The community response wasn’t practical or well-thought out, but it was heartfelt! Moments like this have helped me to always try to see the good in people.

You had a unique childhood, tell me more about it?

I grew up in the mountains of Ojai. My parents owned a house in the Los Padres National Forest that was over 100 years old and our water came from a natural spring on the property. So I had an adventurous outdoor lifestyle from an early age. I had acres and acres to explore, falling in rivers and things like that.

What is the one thing people would be most surprised to know about you?

Usually they are surprised I have done so much independent travel around the world. I have backpacked through Europe several times, and my first trip there was when I was just 17 years old. After I earned my law degree, I spent a month driving from Ojai to British Columbia, all through the Pacific Northwest camping and hiking in the backcountry. I’ve also gone sky diving and underground cave rafting in New Zealand.

You’re very busy. What do you do to relax?

Melissa gardeningMelissa gardening for relaxation. Photo courtesy of Melissa BarthelemyI do as much hiking and gardening as I can. My wife and I love camping. We have gone backpacking in the Channel Islands and one of our favorite spots is Kings Canyon National Park up in the Sierra Mountain Range. Basically she tries to take me places where my cell phone does not work.

What is your biggest accomplishment in life and why?  Marrying my wife. My day to day happiness is the most important thing to me. We’ve been married six years, and thankfully we got married one week before Proposition 8 had passed in California, or we wouldn’t have been able to be married all of this time.

Any advice for new graduate students?

Don’t ever feel like you are alone in the challenges you are confronted with. I have had serious physical health disabilities while at UCSB and have benefited tremendously from the Disabled Students Program (DSP). No matter what difficulties you encounter, remember you are part of a larger community that is invested in your success and people are here to help support you.

What is the one thing you hope to be doing 5 or 10 years out of graduate school?

I love teaching, but I also could see myself doing museum management or higher education administration. I am open to working in a range of educational environments. I will be happy as long as I know I am continuing to have a positive impact in the world.

Monday
Apr202015

Grad Slam 2015 Final Round for UCSB: The Right to Represent

The 10 finalists were acknowledged by the audience and Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti before they took questions. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Winning logo design by Lennon Grinta

At last we've arrived at the Final Round for UCSB 2015 Grad Slam. It's been a long, weary road to the Finals and lots of tears were shed on the way, mostly mine. If you weren't one of the hundreds in attendance at Corwin Pavilion on Friday afternoon to bear witness, this is what went down.

The UCSB Final round featured 10 winners from the Semifinal rounds vying for vast sums of money, bragging rights, and the right to represent UCSB at the UC Campuswide Grad Slam Final in Oakland on May 4. The finalist hopefuls entered the room, looking their best, hoping to grasp the blue ribbon of greatness, but only one left the room with the Grand Prize and a date for future glory. While only one became UCSB's Champion, all were winners. The finalists were surprised to learn that each would receive a free speaker from sponsor Sonos. Other corporate sponsors this year were Yardi, which provided the $5,000 Grand Prize, and QAD.

There was a packed crowd in Corwin Pavilion for the Finals. Credit: Patricia MarroquinHere are the 10 finalists and their far-reaching topics.

  • Sarah Abdul-Wajid,Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Using Sea Squirts to Find New Genetic Factors Controlling Birth Defects.” Sarah's research on sea squirts will help prevent a birth defect that affects one in 1,000 human babies. Her detailed slides provided audience members with images of what she sees under her microscope.
  • David Copp, Mechanical Engineering: “Closing the Loop: Engineering an Artificial Pancreas." David's research will help regulate blood glucose to aid diabetes patients. His mathematical algorithms can run continuous glucose sensors more effectively, and one day may help run an artificial pancreas.
  • The ribbons, glass trophy, and Sonos speakers are displayed onstage. Credit: Patricia MarroquinSelvi Ersoy, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Killing Me Softly with Antibiotics.” Selvi's presentation showcased the problems with current protocols in antibiotic efficacy testing. She compared lab test environments (in which antibiotics are tested in a lab broth akin to a Caesar's Palace buffet) to actual physiological environments (in which antibiotics face immunity systems that rival the tenacity of Mr. T) in order to show that scientists have been determining antibiotic dosing all wrong.
  • Matthew Gebbie, Materials: “Simplifying Nature's Invention: Engineering Mussel Proteins into Biomedical Glues." Matthew's research takes inspiration from the way that mussels adhere to surfaces in aqueous environments as the basis for developing simplified versions of these adhesives in order to produce more positive and less traumatic outcomes in orthopedic surgery.
  • Abel Gustafson, Communication: “Predicting Election Outcomes Using Wikipedia.” Abel demonstrated how the communication patterns of Internet users using sites such as Wikipedia can predict the outcome of United States political elections with greater accuracy than the traditional prediction models that are made from public opinion polls.
  • Daniel Hieber, Linguistics: “Renaissance on the Bayou: Reviving the Chitimacha Language.” Daniel is working with language documentation material recorded over 70 years ago in order to revive the Chitimacha language in Louisiana, to write a dictionary, and even create Rosetta Stone style software.
  • Lakshmanan Nataraj, Electrical and Computer Engineering: “Photographing Computer Programs to Identify Malicious Software.” Lakshmanan wants to stop malware. His research looked at computer programs in a completely different way: as digital photographs. His programs looked for patterns in these images, similar to how we would look for patterns in our daily photos, and then trained a system using Artificial Intelligence to identify malicious software programs.
  • Jessica Perkins, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “Life Cycle Assessment: There's More to the Story.” In a courageous move, Jessica turned off the PowerPoint slide projector and asked us to focus on the ballpoint pen in her hand. She encouraged us to think of all  the depleted resources, carbon emissions, and waste created in the making of this simple pen. Her life-cycle assessment research can help identify the unintended consequences of our materials and manufacturing decisions. "I could have told you about the projector, but we probably would have been here until the morning."
  • Erik Spickard, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Gonads to Guts: Reprogramming an Organ in the Nematode C. elegans.” Erik is trying to figure out why a little worm's gonad turned into a second gut when a particular gene was turned on in the worm. He believes that this process of changing one organ into another (or "transorganogenesis") could revolutionize the way that doctors treat failing or dysfunctional organs in humans.
  • Yan Wencheng, History of Art and Architecture: “Writing Modernity: Constructing a History of Chinese Architecture, 1920-1949.” Wencheng explained that although demolition comprises the majority of current Chinese urban architecture, there is no vocabulary to describe the process. She seeks to help shape the new vocabulary of modern Chinese architecture for architects, art historians, and others.

After a suspense-filled deliberation, the judges crowned one UCSB grad student Champion for the 2015 Grad Slam and the right to fight on for UCSB glory, while also acknowledging two other students as Runners-Up.

And the UCSB 2015 Grad Slam Champion and winner of $5,000 is ...

Daniel Hieber

And the Runners-Up are ...

Abel Gustafson

Jessica Perkins

The winners of the 2015 UCSB Grad Slam: Champion Daniel Hieber (Linguistics), center; and Runners-Up Abel Gustafson (Communication) and Jessica Perkins (Bren). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Kyle's Kudos

The winners congratulate one another while Dr. Tania Israel applauds. Credit: Patricia MarroquinBest Algorithm: David Copp (Artificial Pancreas)

Best Attention Getter: Selvi Ersoy (Is your doctor killing you?)

Best Kim Kardashian Reference: Sarah Abdul-Wajid ("You can watch it live, just like reality TV.")

Best Visuals: Yan Wencheng (Construction Destruction)

Kafka Award: Erik Spickard ("Have you ever lain in bed worrying that your lung turned into a kidney?")

Man on A Mission: Lakshmanan Nataraj ("We want to send a message to the evil hackers!")

Mr. Big Data: Abel Gustafson ("Just like undergraduates who were in need of an answer, we turned to Wikipedia.")

The seats were marked with the finalists' names. Credit: Patricia MarroquinPen is Mightier than the Slide Award: Jessica Perkins (Bic pen)

Rico Suave Award: Daniel Hieber (Smoothest gesturing, eyebrow movement, and eye contact with audience)

Sports Injury Savior: Matthew Gebbie (Mussel Proteins)

Final Round Judges

  • Jan Campbell, Senior Vice President for Philanthropic Services, Santa Barbara Foundation; Member UCSB Board of Trustees
  • Brent Constantz, Found and CEO, Blue Planet; Consulting Associate Professor, Geological Sciences, Stanford University
  • Shirley Lim, Professor Emerita, English, UCSB
  • Michael Witherell, Vice Chancellor for Research; Professor of Physics, UCSB

The Chitimacha language and Wikipedia were the topics of discussion by Daniel Hieber, left, and Abel Gustafson. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Mussel proteins were the topic for Matthew Gebbie; and Chinese architecture was spotlighted in Yan Wencheng's talk. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Erik Spickard and Jessica Perkins presented their talks at the Grad Slam Finals. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

David Copp spoke about an artificial pancreas; and Sarah Abdul-Wajid discussed sea squirts. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Selvi Ersoy discussed antibiotics and Lakshmanan Nataraj spoke about malicious software. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Communications Peer Melissa Rapp and Professional Development Peer Shawn Warner-Garcia also contributed to this article.

Wednesday
Apr152015

Grad Slam 2015 Semifinal Round 3: Glues, Guts, and Games

Competitors in Semifinal Round 3 enjoy a laugh as they take questions from the audience. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

The 2015 Grad Slam Semifinal Round 3 was held on Wednesday afternoon in the Engineering Science Building. Eight competitors came, only four moved on to the finals. Be sure to read to the very end for an exciting twist in this Semifinal round!

Presenting in Semifinal Round 3 were, clockwise from left, Mary Toothman, Ashley Sanford, and Jamie Booth. Credit: Patricia MarroquinHere are the noble contenders and their provocative topics.

  • Jamie Booth, Mechanical Engineering: “Gecko-Inspired Adhesive Materials.” Jamie's research investigates the adhesive properties of the toes of geckos in order replicate the structure that generates intimate contact with almost any surface. Jamie is working to take the insights gained from micro-scale replications of these adhesive properties and address macro-scale problems of implementation.
  • Selvi Ersoy, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Killing Me Softly with Antibiotics.” Selvi's presentation showcased the problems with current protocols in antibiotic efficacy testing. She compared lab test environments (in which antibiotics are tested in a lab broth akin to a Caesar's Palace buffet) to actual physiological environments (in which antibiotics face immunity systems that rival the tenacity of Mr. T) in order to show that scientists have been determining antibiotic dosing all wrong.
  • Graduate Division Associate Dean Karen Myers goes over procedures with the Semifinal Round 3 judges, who include Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider, foreground. Credit: Patricia MarroquinMatthew Gebbie, Materials: “Simplifying Nature's Invention: Engineering Mussel Proteins into Biomedical Glues." Matthew's research takes inspiration from the way that mussels adhere to surfaces in aqueous environments as the basis for developing simplified versions of these adhesives in order to produce more positive and less traumatic outcomes in orthopedic surgery.
  • Daniel Hieber, Linguistics: “Renaissance on the Bayou: Reviving the Chitimacha Language.” Daniel is working with language documentation material recorded over 70 years ago in order to revive the Chitimacha language in Louisiana.
  • Celeste Pilegard, Psychological and Brain Sciences: “What Can We Learn From Video Games?” Celeste's research is investigating how to transform highly motivated types of learning in video game environments into long-lasting and meaningful learning using reflective techniques.
  • Associate Dean Karen Myers congratulates Selvi Ersoy. Credit: Patricia MarroquinAshley Sanford, Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology: “The Science of Meaning-Making.” Ashley's talk presented the other side of the post-traumatic stress coin: post-traumatic growth. She is researching how people make sense of traumatic experiences and are ultimately able to grow and learn from those experiences.
  • Erik Spickard, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Gonads to Guts: Reprogramming an Organ in the Nematode C. elegans.” Erik is trying to figure out why a little worm's gonad turned into a second gut when a particular gene was turned on in the worm. He believes that this process of changing one organ into another (or "transorganogenesis") could revolutionize the way that doctors treat failing or dysfunctional organs in humans.
  • Mary Toothman, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology: “In the Water or in the Genes? What Makes an Infectious Disease Deadly (or Not)?" Mary's research investigates the influence of both genetics and physical environments in determining the fatality of a particular type of fungus in frogs.

After deliberating, the judges selected four presenters to compete in the Grad Slam Final Round this Friday, April 17, at 3 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion. Not only that, each of the advancing presenters gets a $200 cash prize!

And the Semifinal Round 3 winners are ...

Selvi Ersoy

Matthew Gebbie

Erik Spickard

Celeste Pilegard*

Well done to all!

Shawn's Superlatives:

Erik Spickard explains "transorganogenesis." Credit: Patricia MarroquinBest Accent: Jamie Booth

Best Grey's Anatomy Moment: Matthew Gebbie (showing an orthoscopic image from his own shoulder surgery)

Best Use of a Foreign Language: Daniel Hieber (Chitimacha)

Best Marrying of Nature and Nurture: Mary Toothman

Most Optimistic: Celeste Pilegard ("Video games might have a place in the classroom of the future!")

Most Inspirational: Ashley Sanford ("The tree with the deepest roots is the last to go down in a storm.")

Most Imperative: Selvi Ersoy ("What you don't know CAN kill you.")

Daniel Hieber was chosen to advance to the Final round when Celeste Pilegard withdrew due to a previous commitment. Credit: Patricia MarroquinLongest Word: Eric Spickard ("Transorganogenesis")

 

* Plot Twist!

Due to a previous commitment to present her research at a conference this Friday, Celeste Pilegard withdrew from participation in the Grad Slam Final Round. As a result, the competitor with the next-highest score from both of the judges' semifinal rounds (which occurred Monday and today) was selected to replace Celeste in the Finals.

 

And that competitor is ...

Daniel Hieber!

The winners of Semifinal Round 3 are, from left, Matthew Gebbie (Materials); Celeste Pilegard (Psychological and Brain Sciences); Selvi Ersoy (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology); and Erik Spickard (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology). Celeste is unable to advance to the Finals due to a previous commitment, so Daniel Hieber (Linguistics) will join Selvi, Matthew, and Erik at the Finals on Friday. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Tuesday
Apr142015

Grad Slam 2015 Semifinal Round 2: Heroes, Hope, and a Last Stand

Umi Hoshijima answers a question from the audience while other presenters from Semifinal Round 2 listen. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Here's what you missed at the 2015 Grad Slam Semifinal Round 2 on Tuesday afternoon, which took place in the Multipurpose Room of the Student Resource Building.

Sabrina Liu spoke about the power of hope. Credit: Patricia MarroquinSemifinal Round 2 featured nine crowd favorites (aka "The People's Choice") chosen from the eight preliminary rounds. Sadly, only two of these favorites could advance for a chance to be crowned Grad Slam Champion and Supreme Ruler of the UCSB Grad Student Universe.

Here are the worthy contenders and their titillating topics.

  • Ty Brandt, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “Why Study Snow from the Beach?” Ty discussed how if we combine recent advances that use airborne snow observatory data with eco-hydrologic models, we might be able to reduce river-runoff forecast uncertainty, thereby improving the chances of maximizing the use of California's fresh water resources.
  • Aileen Fullchange, Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology: “The HEROES Project.” Aileen's presentation focused on empathy, its importance, and ways to increase it. Specifically, she talked about the development of an empathy-based intervention, known as the HEROES project (Harnessing Empathy Results in Opportunities for Everyday Solutions).
  • Abel Gustafson, Communication: “Predicting Election Outcomes using Wikipedia.” Abel demonstrated how the communication patterns of Internet users using sites like Wikipedia can predict the outcome of United States political elections with greater accuracy than the traditional prediction models that are made from public opinion polls.
  • Umi Hoshijima discussed kelp forests and global ocean change. Credit: Patricia MarroquinUmihiko Hoshijima, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology: “Kelp Forests on Acid: Local Climate Change Mitigation in a Changing Ocean." Umi talked about how global ocean change is a global problem: one that is difficult to mitigate or manage on a local scale. He showed how kelp forests and seagrasses could locally mitigate the effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia and what this meant for biology and coastal management.
  • Richard Huskey, Communication: “Using Brains to Change Minds.” Richard's talk focused on the neuropsychological process of persuasion. He discussed how brain-imaging data can be used to improve persuasive message design for high-risk people.
  • Aileen Fullchange talked about empathy and the HEROES project. Credit: Patricia MarroquinSabrina Liu, Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology: “The Power of Hope: First Year Students' Adjustment to College Amidst Tragedy." Sabrina explored various psychosocial predictors of college adjustment, such as hope and depression, in first-year students' success. She compared these factors' influence in a typical year versus a high-stress year in which there was an event of mass violence on campus.
  • Ian McCullough, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “A Last Stand? Will California's Ponderosa Pine Forests Survive Climate Change?” Ian talked about how droughts, warming temperatures, and shrinking snow pack pose threats to California's iconic mountain forests. To predict what the future holds for one of California's most ecologically and economically important tree species, he used tree-rings to understand a range of climate change scenarios.
  • Lakshmanan Nataraj, Electrical and Computer Engineering: “Photographing Computer Programs to Identify Malicious Software.” Lakshmanan talked about stopping malware. His research looked at computer programs in a completely different way: as digital photographs. His programs looked for patterns in these images, similar to how we would look for patterns in our daily photos, and then trained a system using Artificial Intelligence to identify malicious software programs.
  • Ken Sterling, Education: “Imagine a Reality TV Show with a Boss Handing a Scan-Tron Form to an Employee." Ken's talk focused on the discussion of high-stakes testing, multiple choice test forms, and the "real world" and how it caused anxiety. He contrasted these high anxiety methods to the benefit of students participating in groups with project-based, hands-on learning.

After deliberating, the judges tapped two worthy contenders to advance to the Grad Slam Final Round this Friday, April 17, at 3 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion.

And the Semifinal Round 2 winners are ...

Abel Gustafson

Lakshmanan Nataraj

Fight to the last, my friends!

Kyle's Kudos:

Ian McCullough told the audience that he's not a tree hugger, but he might take one out for a coffee. Credit: Patricia MarroquinBest Accent (Again): Ty Brandt

Best Joke: Ian McCullough ("I'm not a tree hugger. I might shake its hand or take it out for a coffee.")

Best Heckler Handler: Ken Sterling (Who wants a kid who's average? There's one in every crowd.")

Best Pocket Square: Umihiko Hoshijima

Best Salesperson: Lakshmanan Nataraj ("The future of cyber security is right here!)

Best Use of Wikipedia: Abel Gustafson

Most Hopeful: Sabrina Liu

Most Interactive: Aileen Fullchange

Most Polite: Richard Huskey

The winners of Semifinal Round 2 (the People's Choice winners), who will advance to the Finals, are, from left, Lakshmanan Nataraj (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Abel Gustafson (Communication). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Monday
Apr132015

Grad Slam 2015 Semifinal Round 1 Recap: Sea Squirts, an Artificial Pancreas, Chinese Architecture, and a Ballpoint Pen

Semifinal Round 1 presenters answered questions from the audience while the judges deliberated. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Never a dull moment at the 2015 Grad Slam! A full audience gathered this morning at the Student Resource Building, enjoying free fruit, croissants, and coffee cake. We were treated to seven riveting presentations from UCSB's graduate student researchers. The tension was high, as only four of the seven contenders will proceed to the final round. Here is your recap:
  • Sarah Abdul-Wajid, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Using Sea Squirts to Find New Genetic Factors Controlling Birth Defects.” Sarah's research on sea squirts will help prevent a birth defect that affects one in 1,000 human babies. Her detailed slides provided audience members with images of what she sees under her microscope. Fascinating!
  • David Copp, Mechanical Engineering: “Closing the Loop: Engineering an Artificial Pancreas." David's research will help regulate blood glucose to aid diabetes patients. His mathematical algorithms can run continuous glucose sensors more effectively, and one day may help run an artificial pancreas.
  • Brian Hoskins, Materials: “Synaptic Engineering." Brian has worked on building synapses out of titanium dioxide. He aims to emulate biological synapses in machines, so that computers can work as efficiently as the human brain. Impressive.
  • Semifinal Round 1 presenters included, from left, Laura Reynolds, Brian Hoskins, and Joshua Kuntzman. Credit: Patricia MarroquinJoshua Kuntzman, Education: “Do You See Why I Love This Subject?: Educational Dialog and the Importance of Real Human Teachers.” Josh has followed teachers in the classroom, tracing educational dialog and other factors. He developed a theory called "Analagous Personalization" to analyze the effectiveness of different teaching methods. During the Q&A, he explained that neither teachers nor students are machines – and there are many downsides to overtesting.
  • Rickie Smith, Graduate Division Director of Academic Services, welcomed guests at the sign-in table. Credit: Patricia MarroquinJessica Perkins, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “Life Cycle Assessment and Decision Making – Finding a Solution, Not Just Changing the Problem.” In a courageous move, Jessica turned off the PowerPoint slide projector and asked us to focus on the ballpoint pen in her hand. Very creative. She encouraged us to think of the depleted resources, carbon emissions, and waste created in the making of a simple pen. Her life-cycle assessment research can help identify the unintended consequences of our materials and manufacturing decisions.
  • Laura Reynolds, Earth Science: “Memories in Mud: How Marshes Tell Us about Past, Present, and Future Sea-Level Change.” Laura's research in salt marshes and with mud critters will help us track sea-level change and the impact of global warming. Her slides showed a mix of her fieldwork and detailed charting research.
  • Wencheng Yan, History of Art and Architecture: “Writing Modernity: Constructing a History of Chinese Architecture, 1920-1949.” Wencheng explained that although demolition comprises the majority of Chinese urban architecture, there is no vernacular to describe the processes. She seeks to help shape the vernacular of modern Chinese architecture for architects, art historians, and others.

After careful consideration, the judges selected four students to advance to the Grad Slam Final Round this Friday, April 17, at 3 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion.

And the Semifinal Round 1 winners are ...

Sarah Abdul-Wajid

David Copp

Jessica Perkins

Wencheng Yan

Congratulations to all!

Winners of Grad Slam Semifinal Round 1, who will go on to compete in the Finals, are, from left, Jessica Perkins (Bren); David Copp (Mechanical Engineering); Wencheng Yan (History of Art & Architecture); and Sarah Abdul-Wajid (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Friday
Apr102015

Peer Advisors' Office Hours for Spring 2015

The Graduate Division's Peer Advisors are here to help you! Each peer keeps office hours in the Graduate Student Resource Center, which is located in the Student Resource Building, Room 1215.

 


Professional Development Peer, Shawn Warner-Garcia

Monday: 10 a.m. to noon
Wednesday: 10 a.m. to noon
Friday: 10 a.m. to noon

Funding Peer, Kyle Crocco
Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Writing Peer, Ryan Dippre
Monday: 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Tuesday: 9 to 11 a.m., 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Communications Peer, Melissa Rapp
Monday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Thursday: 2 to 4 p.m.

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

Thursday
Apr092015

Grad Slam Round 8 Recap: Beach Snow, Pizza, and Octopus Skin

Wencheng Yan answers a question from the audience while other participants in Round 8 of the Grad Slam look on. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Here’s what you missed at Round 8 (aka "What's For Dinner Round") of UCSB's 2015 Grad Slam on Thursday afternoon in the Santa Cruz Residence Hall. Seven presenters squared off to battle for the right to represent in the next round, talking on topics such as Beach Snow, Pizza, and Octopus Skin. When it was all said and done, only three graduate students triumphed to gain a gift card and a date with Semifinal glory.

Round 8 presenters included, clockwise from top left, S.C. Kaplan; Adam Klein; Desmond Ramirez; and Sungmin Moon. Credit: Patricia MarroquinThe presenters and their topics:

  • William Brandt, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “Why Study Snow from the Beach?”
  • Selvi Ersoy, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Killing Me Softly with Antibiotics” 
  • S.C. Kaplan, French and Italian: “'Apprendre et Endoctriner’: Women Teaching Women in 15th-Century France
  • Adam Klein, Psychological and Brain Sciences: “Illuminating the Circuitry of Addiction”
  • Sungmin Moon, Education: “Pizza, Pisa, PISA”
  • Desmond Ramirez, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology: “'Seeing’ Octopus Skin in the Light of Evolution”
  • Wencheng Yan, History of Art and Architecture: “Writing Modernity: Constructing a History of Chinese Architecture, 1920-1949”

Round 8 was held in a very colorful and artistic space in Santa Cruz Residence Hall. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

And the Round 8 winners are ...

Judges' Selections: Selvi Ersoy and Wencheng Yan.

People's Choice: William Brandt.

Kyle’s Coolest:

  • Coolest Accent: William Brandt (Australian?)
  • Coolest Clip Art: Selvi Ersoy (Bacteria, Mr. Lazy, dead mouse)
  • Coolest Hair: S.C. Kaplan (Red)
  • Coolest Images: Wencheng Yan (Chinese Architecture)

Wencheng, Selvi, and William will all move on to the Semifinals. Way to represent, my friends!

Winners of Grad Slam Round 8 are, from left, Wencheng Yan (History of Art and Architecture); Selvi Ersoy (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology); and William Brandt (Bren School of Environmental Science and Management). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Thursday
Apr092015

Grad Slam Round 7 Recap: Transgender Sensations, Latino Parents, and Invasive Species

Emily Wilson answers a question from the audience while other participants in Round 7 of the Grad Slam look on. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Here’s what you missed at Round 7 (aka "The Rumble Round") of UCSB's 2015 Grad Slam on Thursday morning in 1605 Elings. Eight presenters came forth ready to rumble and discoursed on subjects as varied as Transgender Sensations, Latino Parents, and Invasive Species. After the applause died down, only three graduate students had survived to grasp a gift card and make an appointment for the Semifinals.

Round 7 presenters included, clockwise from top: Zuleyma Rogel, Emily Wilson, Kamala Qalandar, Oree Holban, and Anish Bhattacharjya. Credit: Patricia MarroquinThe presenters and their topics:

  • Anish Bhattacharjya, Chemistry and Biochemistry: “Generating and Using Aryl Grignard Reagents in Water, ONLY Water”
  • Oree Holban, Art: “The Big MM: Transgender Sensations and the Poetry of Limbo”
  • Brian Hoskins, Materials: “Synaptic Engineering”
  • Ian McCullough, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management: “A Last Stand? Will California's Ponderosa Pine Forests Survive Climate Change?”
  • Kamala Qalandar, Mechanical Engineering: “Small But Mighty: Energy Efficiency in Micromechanical Systems”  
  • Zuleyma Rogel, Education: “Latino Parents' Negotiation and Development of Letters to Their School Board on a Funding Priority”
  • Ashley Sanford, Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology: “The Science of Meaning-Making”
  • Emily Wilson, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology: “Detecting Invasive Species Using Environmental DNA”

And the Round 7 winners are … 

Judges' Selections: Brian Hoskins and Ashley Sanford.

People's Choice: Ian McCullough.

Kyle's Superlatives:

Most Likely to Become a ...

  • Life Coach: Ashley Sanford ("The tree with the strongest roots is the last to go down in a storm")
  • Motivational Speaker: Zuleyma Rogel
  • Pun Master: Ian McCullough ("Go out on a limb")
  • Robot Lord: Kamala Qalandar ("If robots are going to rule the world someday, let's at least make them energy-efficient")

Ashley, Brian, and Ian will all move on to the Semifinals. Fight on, my friends!

The winners of Round 7 are, from left, Ian McCullough (Bren School of Environmental Science and Management), Ashley Sanford (Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology), and Brian Hoskins (Materials). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Wednesday
Apr082015

Grad Slam Round 6 Recap: Hope, Humanity, and Greatness

Haddy Kreie answers a question from the audience while the other Round 6 contestants look on. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Here’s what you missed on Wednesday afternoon’s Grad Slam Round 6 in the McCune conference room. Eight of UCSB’s best and brightest talked about hope, humanity, and greatness in the fields of education, psychology, anthropology, theatre and dance, engineering, and biology – and they did it in only three minutes each! 

Round 6 presenters included, clockwise from top left: Lauren Smyth; Haddy Kreie; Ana Elisa Garcia-Vedrenne; and Mario Galicia. Credit: Patricia MarroquinThe presenters and their topics:

  • Mario Galicia, Education: “'Pushed Out’ and ‘Pulled In’: Institutional Bridging for Marginalized Students”
  • Ana Elisa Garcia-Vedrenne, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology: “Snail Parasites and Warrior Worms” 
  • Haddy Kreie, Theater and Dance: “Is Blackness Trauma?: Racial Discourse, Trauma Theory, and Vodun Aesthetics”
  • Joshua Kuntzman, Education: “Do You See Why I Love This Subject?': Educational Dialog and the Importance of Real Human Teachers”
  • Sabrina Liu, Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology: “The Power of Hope: First-Year Students' Adjustment to College Amidst Tragedy”
  • Lakshmanan Nataraj, Electrical and Computer Engineering: “Photographing Computer Programs to Identify Malicious Software”
  • Lauren Smyth, Anthropology: “Aspiring Towards Greatness: (Re)Presenting Muslim Identity in the American Urban Environment”
  • Erik Spickard, Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology: “Gonads to Guts: Reprogramming an Organ in the Nematode C. elegans”

And the Round 6 winners are ...

Judges’ Selections: Joshua Kuntzman and Erik Spickard

People’s Choice: Lakshamanan Nataraj and Sabrina Liu

Ryan’s Selections:

  • Most Depressing Flow Chart in an Opening Slide: Mario Galicia
  • Most Convincing Reason to Never, Ever, Ever Get in the Ocean Again: Ana Elisa Garcia-Vedrenne
  • Best Breakdown and Explanation of a Theory: Haddy Kreie
  • Most References to School of Rock: Joshua Kuntzman
  • Best Use of “First World Problems” Meme: Sabrina Liu
  • Most Pictures of the Statue of Liberty: Lakshmanan Nataraj
  • Best Scarf: Lauren Smyth
  • Best Pronunciation of "Transorganogenesis": Erik Spickard

Joshua, Erik, Lakshamanan, and Sabrina will advance to the Semifinals next week.

The winners of Grad Slam Round 6 are, from left, Erik Spickard (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology); Sabrina Liu (Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology); Lakshamanan Nataraj (Electrical and Computer Engineering); and Joshua Kuntzman (Education). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Wednesday
Apr082015

Grad Slam Round 5 Recap: Mobile Technologies, Mussels, and Bomb Sensors

Matthew Gebbie, third from right, answers a question from the audience while the other Round 5 competitors listen. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Here’s what you missed at Round 5 (aka "The Life-Saving Round") of UCSB's 2015 Grad Slam on Wednesday morning in the Student Resource Building's Multipurpose Room. Eight presenters wowed us with their timely and perfectly timed research, which included topics such as Endangered Languages, Disappearing Frogs, and an Artificial Pancreas. While each presenter went away with an Official Grad Slam T-Shirt, only three graduate students earned a gift card and an invite to the Semifinals.

Round 5 presenters included, clockwise from top: Dibella Wdzenczny; Andrew Johnson; Faye Walker; Lily Li; and Andrea Adams. Credit: Patricia MarroquinThe presenters and their topics:

  • Andrea Adams, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology: “Solving the Mystery of Southern California’s Vanishing Frogs: Looking to the Past for Evidence of Disease” 
  • David Copp, Mechanical Engineering: “Closing the Loop: Engineering an Artificial Pancreas”
  • Matthew Gebbie, Materials: “Simplifying Nature's Invention: Engineering Mussel Proteins into Biomedical Glues”
  • Abel Gustafson, Communication: “Predicting Election Outcomes using Wikipedia”
  • Andrew Johnson, Political Science: “Hegel’s Polizei: Between Security and Welfare”
  • Lily Li, Mechanical Engineering: “Enhance Mass Sensing Using Nonlinearity” 
  • UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang's wife, Dilling, signs in before the start of Round 5. Credit: Patricia MarroquinFaye Walker, Chemistry and Biochemistry: “The Uberification of Genetic Testing”
  • Dibella Wdzenczny, Linguistics: “I Can Chat Ya in Kamchatka”

And the Round 5 winners are ...

Judges' Selections: David Copp and Matthew Gebbie

People's Choice: Abel Gustafson

Shawn's Selections:

  • Best Slide Reveal: Abel Gustafson
  • Best Use of Video: Lily Li
  • Best Prop: Faye Walker (cell phone)
  • Best Use of a Foreign Language: Dibella Wdzenczny

Abel, David, and Matthew will advance to the Semifinals, which will be held at the beginning of next week.

Winners of Round 5 are, from left, Abel Gustafson (Communication); David Copp (Mechanical Engineering); and Matthew Gebbie (Materials). Credit: Patricia Marroquin