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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer:
Shawn Warner-Garcia
Mon: 10 a.m. to noon
Wed: 10 a.m. to noon
Fri: 10 a.m. to noon

Diversity & Outreach Peer:

Funding Peer:
Kyle Crocco
Tue: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Writing Peer:
Ryan Dippre
Mon: 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Tue: 9 to 11 a.m., 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wed: 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Communications Peer:
Melissa Rapp
Mon: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thu: 1 to 3 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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UCSB Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology Ph.D. Student Andrea Adams Wins Switzer Environmental Fellowship

UCSB Ph.D. student Andrea Adams, winner of a 2014 Switzer Environmental Fellowship.Fifth-year Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology Ph.D. student Andrea Adams has been named one of 20 recipients of a 2014 Switzer Environmental Fellowship, a program by the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation that recognizes the achievements of environmental leaders and their potential to enact positive change.

The Switzer Fellowship includes a $15,000 cash award to be used for academic study in master’s and doctoral programs; leadership training; access to a broad network of nearly 600 Switzer Fellowship alums; and opportunities for professional development during the fellowship year and beyond.

Andrea’s dissertation research involves the study of disappearing frogs in Southern California. “One species, the foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) disappeared from the region during a short period of time in the mid-1960s to early 1970s,” Andrea explains. “One thing that can cause such rapid declines in amphibians is the pathogenic amphibian chytrid fungus. I study this fungus’s distribution and disease dynamics in different amphibian species in Southern California to see if it could have been a major contributing factor to the disappearance of the foothill yellow-legged frog in the region. To do this, I conduct molecular work in the laboratory, as well as field and museum work.”

The Switzer Foundation said that “Andrea’s interdisciplinary approach is aimed at better understanding the roles of infectious disease and perceptions of ecological change in conservation outcomes.”

Andrea, a native of Michigan, majored in Environmental Studies at Michigan State University for two years as an undergrad before transferring to Prescott College in Arizona, where in 2003 she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies with an Emphasis in Conservation Biology, and a Minor in Outdoor Adventure Education. She earned a Master’s degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UCSB in 2013. Andrea’s advisor is Dr. Sam Sweet, and co-advisor is Dr. Cherie Briggs.

Andrea Adams holds a foothill yellow-legged frog. Her fieldwork involves studying the disappearing frogs in Southern California.Andrea is also a biologist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where, since 2008, she has applied her interest in conserving biodiversity through her work in endangered species management and recovery in Southern California.

Her conservation fieldwork has taken her all over the state, nation, and world – including the Channel Islands, the Sonoran Desert of Mexico, Boreal Forests of Canada, and urban-forest regions in Michigan. As an undergraduate, Andrea studied in Nepal through Michigan State University, and in Mexico, Scotland, and Norway while at Prescott College.

It was a field trip to a California condor release site that first sparked Andrea’s interest in conservation biology. She traveled to the site at the Vermilion Cliffs in Arizona during her final year at Prescott. “I knew right away that I wanted to work in field biology and conservation,” she said.

Andrea learned of the Switzer fellowship from UCSB faculty member Tom Dudley of the Marine Science Institute, who recommended that she apply.

“The application process takes a lot of preparation,” said Andrea. “Along with a research statement, letters of recommendation, and transcripts, the required personal essay is the foundational portion of the application because it communicates to the reviewers your experience and aspirations. After my application was selected, I was invited to San Francisco for a fellowship interview, where I answered questions about my professional experience, goals, and leadership skills.”

The Switzer fellowship year includes two retreats. Last fall she and the other California-based Switzer Fellows from her cohort and previous cohorts met in Sausalito. “This served as an orientation for new fellows as well as a leadership training opportunity,” she said. “It included a day-long training on transformative leadership from the Rockwood Leadership Institute. The session was designed to help us in developing collaborative leadership skills and working across differences.”

In March of this year, Andrea and the other fellows will attend another retreat in Washington, D.C. The gathering will include two days of intensive science and policy communications training with COMPASS (Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea) and will conclude with meeting policy leaders in the fellows’ respective fields.

Another benefit of the fellowship is the mentorship opportunities it provides. Andrea has been paired with a Switzer Fellow alum, a wildlife toxicologist at UC Santa Cruz, who will offer help and advice to her throughout the fellowship year.

Andrea says she is grateful to her recommenders, Cherie Briggs and Rick Farris, for their support during the application process and beyond; as well as the Switzer Foundation, “for its optimistic investment in the future of environmental work.”

Andrea considers it “a significant honor” to have won the fellowship, “and I look forward to participating in the fellowship network throughout my career to support other environmental leaders in their work.”

After attaining her Ph.D., the Switzer Fellow’s career goals are to “continue doing research while working collaboratively with partners in other fields and in local communities on more applied aspects of conservation.”

To read biographies of all 20 Fellows, visit the 2014 Switzer Fellows page. The Switzer Foundation has been accepting 2015 Switzer Fellowship Program applications, which are due January 9, 2015. Because the applications take a lot of time and work to complete, it may be too late to apply for the 2015 program. However, for more information, read Switzer’s How to Apply page.


The GradPost’s Top 14 Stories of 2014

Each year, it’s always interesting to take a look back and see what GradPost stories most captivated our readers. In 2013, most-read stories featured the blooming of a rare, stinky “corpse flower”; our university’s only scientific glass blower; graduate student and alumni profiles; and a couple of job interview issues – dressing your best and using body language to your advantage. This year, we found that one tragedy, a few triumphs, a handful of graduate student and alumni features, and the Grad Slam dominated our readers’ attention.

Here now are the GradPost’s top 14 most-read stories originally published in 2014, followed by a list of six other noteworthy articles that just missed the list; and seven popular topic pages.

The GradPost sends you all warm wishes for a joyous holiday season, and a safe and happy new year. We would like to remind you to please subscribe to us and follow us on Twitter to keep up with the latest graduate student news and events. 




Top 14 GradPost Stories Originally Published in 2014

1. UCSB Classes Suspended on Tuesday, a ‘Day of Mourning and Reflection’; Memorial Service Planned at Harder Stadium (May 25)

In a message from Chancellor Henry T. Yang to the Campus Community, he declared Tuesday, May 27, as a “Day of Mourning and Reflection” in light of the May 23 Isla Vista tragedy that claimed the lives of six UCSB students. The university suspended classes that day and scheduled an afternoon memorial service at Harder Stadium. Chancellor Yang reminded the community that professional counselors were available to provide support.

2. 5 Things You Should Know to Empathize With International Students (May 7)

Diversity and Outreach Peer Hala Sun, who has spent a decade as an international student in the United States, shares her insights on what these students go through on a regular basis. Her column is based on her own experience as well as those of other international students she knows. Her reflections offer helpful information to enable others to better empathize with this community of students.

3. Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Deborah Barany (May 9)

Torrey Trust interviews Deborah Barany, a Ph.D. student in the new interdepartmental Dynamical Neuroscience program and a runner-up in the Finals of the 2014 Grad Slam competition. She talks about her research; what it was like to compete in the Grad Slam; her inspiring grandmother, who was a muscle physiologist and strong advocate for women in science; her love for playing sports; and more.

4. Commencement Speaker Mike North: UCSB Ph.D. Alum, Nonprofit Founder, Discovery Channel Host, and ‘Indiana Jones of Technology’ (June 12)

It’s difficult to pigeonhole our 2014 Graduate Division Commencement speaker. Dr. Mike North obtained three degrees from UCSB. His dissertation research involved studying the natural adhesive found on the pad of a gecko’s foot. He became a TV show host and founder of a nonprofit. He has gone scuba diving with sharks and built a 30-foot, 90-mph fire-breathing Viking ship that he drove from Santa Barbara to Burning Man. We profiled this multifaceted, fascinating man.

5. Graduate Division Hosts a Summer Dissertation Writer’s Room (June 16)

Credit: Kyle CroccoThe opening of the first Graduate Division-hosted Dissertation Writer’s Room in the Student Resource Building was a big hit. The room provides a shared, quiet space to work on your dissertation. The room comfortably seats 18 writers and includes amenities such as ergonomic furniture, plenty of electrical outlets, coffee, water, snacks, and wireless. The room was so popular that it reopened in the fall quarter. And the space isn’t just for dissertation writers. All graduate students were invited to make use of the shared study space, whether they were completing a final round of revisions to their dissertations or writing their first graduate seminar papers.

6. ‘Tenured Professor’ and ‘Librarian’: Are These Really Low-Stress Careers? We Interview UCSB Faculty and Librarians (January 13)

We came across an intriguing study by the career information website, which annually issues its lists of the 10 Least Stressful and 10 Most Stressful Jobs. What caught our attention was that CareerCast proclaimed “Tenured University Professor” as the No. 4 Least Stressful Job and “Librarian” as No. 8 on its low-stress meter. The GradPost interviewed eight tenured professors and academic librarians at UCSB to get the real scoop on stress. What we found is that these careers, like any others, do have their challenges and stressors. However, professors and librarians we interviewed said they enjoy the intellectual stimulation; freedom to pursue research; schedule flexibility; and diversity of duties that come with working at one of the world’s top-tier research institutions. 

Credit: Melissa Barthelemy

7. History Grad Student, Other Volunteers Create Memorial Wall in The Arbor (June 2)

History Ph.D. student Melissa Barthelemy and other student volunteers worked throughout the night to repurpose a campus message wall into a memorial wall paying tribute to the UCSB students lost in the Isla Vista tragedy. Initially paying out of pocket to get this time-sensitive project going, Melissa (along with the other volunteer artists) “battled raccoons, skunks, and ferrel cats simultaneously (literally) until 1:30 a.m.” in The Arbor to finish the first phase of “We Remember Them: A Place of Healing at The Arbor.” Today, Melissa continues her volunteer efforts, working on a memorial preservation archive project in cooperation with the UCSB Library. She and the other volunteers hope to give USB sticks containing photos, videos, and other material to the families of the students who were killed.

8. UCSB Ph.D. Alum, Discovery Channel TV Show Host, ReAllocate Founder Mike North to Be Keynote Speaker at 2014 Graduate Division Commencement (March 13)

The initial announcement that Dr. Mike North agreed to be the Graduate Division’s Commencement speaker was also a popular article (see No. 4 above for his full profile feature). In this piece, Dr. North’s advisor, Mechanical Engineering Professor Kimberly Turner, said this about him: “Dr. North is definitely one of those students who continues to have lifetime lasting impact on me. It was clear from the first time I met him, as a UCSB undergrad, that he was destined for great things. He is definitely a man with passion for discovery, and a deep humanitarian side as well. From the highly engineered ‘fire-breathing dragon’ art car he built to take to Burning Man, to the first reversible gecko-based adhesion, Mike takes on everything at full speed.”

9. New UCSB Alum Casey O’Hara Puts His Bren Education to Work as Oregon Science Reporter Through AAAS Fellowship (July 9)

New Bren grad Casey O’Hara was one of 15 students nationwide to be awarded a Mass Media Science & Engineering Fellowship by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). This AAAS fellow (a former high school science teacher; medical-device developer; and Brengrass band musician) was assigned to the Oregonian newspaper in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, where he put his Bren education to good use as a science news reporter for the summer.

Infographic by Shawn Warner-Garcia

10. Who’s New at UCSB? We Introduce You to Our Incoming Graduate Student Cohort (September 25)

Professional Development Peer Shawn Warner-Garcia introduced us to a new cohort of graduate students at UC Santa Barbara. Her excellent, colorful infographics illustrated the statistics – from ages to countries of origin to fields of study. And she interviewed six new students to learn about their research interests, their favorite things to do, and what they look forward to the most about graduate school.

11. Grad Slam Semifinals: The Showdown Continues (April 14)

Academic Peer Torrey Trust breaks down the showdown for the Grad Slam Semifinals. Her bracket infographic shows which students were scheduled to face off against each other in two semifinal rounds.

Lara Deek, center, dancing the Argentine tango at the Seattle Tango Magic Festival.

12. Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Lara Deek (January 24)

The GradPost profiles Computer Science Ph.D. student Lara Deek, who is doing research on designing more efficient and powerful wireless systems for emerging wireless networks. She talks about the “wonderful, multi-dimensional experience” of graduate school; her research into the “next-generation technology in the wireless world”; and her love of rock climbing, yoga, and the Argentine tango, among other topics.

13. 4 Ways to Be a Loving Neighbor: My Personal Perspective Amid Isla Vista Tragedy (May 24)

Diversity and Outreach Peer Hala Sun was heading home to IV after attending a wonderful musical event at the MCC Theater when she heard the sirens and saw the flashing lights of police cars and firetrucks. She soon learned about the tragic events in Isla Vista that night. Hala took some time to reflect and offer her suggestions for ways that members of the UCSB and Isla Vista communities can be loving neighbors to one another.

14. Candlelight Vigil Tonight at Storke Plaza (May 24)

We announced the university's plans for a candlelight vigil, where the community could come together to heal, comfort one another, and pay tribute to those lost in the Isla Vista tragedy. At the Storke Plaza event, students would hear from speakers and performers before joining the candlelight vigil and memorial walk into Isla Vista.


6 More Stories That Just Missed the Top 14 List

15. The Next Miss California Might Be UCSB’s Kara Smoot, Master’s Student in Music and Vocal Performance

16. Materials Ph.D. Student Leah Kuritzky Is Helping to Change the World of Lighting Forever

17. Welcome to the Dark Side of Academia: Fake Conferences and Faux Journals

18. Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Jonathan Jones

19. UCSB’s First Feminist Studies Ph.D. to Be Awarded on Sunday, to Carly Thomsen

20. UCSB Graduate Students Express Pride in Nobel Prize Achievement of Professor Shuji Nakamura

And our most-read GradPost pages of 2014 were: The Grad Slam and Grad Slam recaps pages; new students page; orientation page; off-campus and on-campus housing pages; first-year activities page; and our GradPost newsfeed Subscribe page.


GSA Has Immediate Need for an Acting Vice President of Student Affairs

Jason Hopkins, GSA’s Vice President of Student Affairs, has been hired by the Office of International Students and Scholars for the position of Scholar Specialist. With his hiring by the university, Jason is no longer allowed to serve in the GSA role. The following message was issued by GSA President Zach Rentz:

“With Jason's departure we now have a vacant executive position. There will be a special election to fill the Vice President of Student Affairs (VPSA) position at GSA's first assembly meeting on January 13 at 6 p.m. in the GSA Lounge. Until then, we need to appoint an acting VPSA to fill the role until the special election.

If you are interested in applying, please email Zach Rentz, the GSA President, ASAP. We need to appoint someone quickly so that they are prepared for certain meetings during the first week of the term before the special election, so we apologize for the short notice and expedited process.

We will be taking applications until midnight on December 24. Then, in accordance with GSA's bylaws, the Executive Committee will review the applications, vote, and hopefully appoint an acting VPSA by this coming weekend.

To apply, all you have to do is email Zach at a short bio, why you want to be the acting VPSA, and why you think you would be good at the position. Feel free to write to Zach in an email. … no need to put together a formal document.

Please click here for a description of the position."

Zach says the GSA is also looking to fill openings on several high-level committees where the UCSB graduate student body needs a grad student representative. The committees are: UCSB Campus Climate Implementation Committee; Search Committee for the UCSB Chief Information Officer; and Student Regent Nominating Commission. For more information about these committees and how to apply, read this announcement.


Sneak Peek into Upcoming Professional Development Programming

Before you finish grading, wrap up writing, and head home for the holidays, take a sneak peek into the exciting variety of professional development programming that the Graduate Division will be hosting in the winter quarter! Note: All dates and times subject to change. Be sure to subscribe to The GradPost to receive the most up-to-date information on programming and events for graduate students.



Interviews and Negotiating a Job Offer
: Karen Myers (Associate Dean of the Graduate Division) and David Seibold (Vice-Chair and Professor of Technology Management Program)
When: Friday, January 16, 1-2:30 p.m.
Where: SRB Multipurpose Room
(Check out the recap of our Fall quarter Academic Job Search Series panel discussion)


Academic Publishing Workshop
: Ryan Dippre (Writing Peer) and Shawn Warner-Garcia (Professional Development Peer)
When:Friday, February 6, 1-2 p.m.
Where: SRB Multipurpose Room

Credit: The Italian VoiceCV and Cover Letter Workshop
: Ryan Dippre (Writing Peer) and Shawn Warner-Garcia (Professional Development Peer)
When: Friday, February 27, 1-3 p.m.
Where: SRB Multipurpose Room

Graduate Student Career Series: The Art of Interviewing for Non-Academic Positions
: John Coate (Career Services Graduate Student Services Coordinator)
When: Wednesday, February 4, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Where: SRB Multipurpose Room

Graduate Student Career Series: Successful Networking In Person and Online
: John Coate (Career Services Graduate Student Services Coordinator)
When: Wednesday, March 4, 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Where: SRB Multipurpose Room

Introduction to the Versatile Ph.D.
: Shawn Warner-Garcia (Professional Development Peer)
When: Wednesday, February 11, 11-11:30 a.m.
Where: Career Services, Resource Room


Finding Funding Workshops
: Kyle Crocco (Funding Peer)
When: Tuesday, January 20, and Thursday, February 5; noon-1 p.m. both days
Where: SRB 2154

Credit: Simon CunninghamFinancial Literacy 101: Loans, Credit, Budgets
: Kyle Crocco (Funding Peer)
When: Tuesday, February 10, noon-1 p.m.
Where: SRB 2154

Financial Literacy 102: Taxes
: Kyle Crocco (Funding Peer)
When: Tuesday, January 27, noon-1 p.m.
Where: SRB 2154

Financial Literacy 103: Insurance
: Kyle Crocco (Funding Peer)
When: Tuesday, February 17, noon-1 p.m.
Where: SRB 2154


Credit: Paul ShanksPerformance Enhancement: Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence, Principles of Communication, and Strategies for Difficult Conversations
: Turi Honegger (Assistant Clinical Director at UCSB Counseling and Psychological Services)
When: Tuesday, January 13, 3-5 p.m.
Where: 1601 Elings Hall

Intelligence, Principles of Communication, and Strategies for Difficult Conversations
: Turi Honegger (Assistant Clinical Director at UCSB Counseling and Psychological Services)
When: Tuesday, January 20, 3-5 p.m.
Where: SRB Multipurpose Room


Navigating the IRB Process
: UCSB Office of Research
Details TBD

Grant-Writing Workshop
: UCSB Office of Research
Details TBD


In partnership with other campus departments, the Graduate Division will present a series of workshops on public speaking, presentations, and stage presence. Stay tuned for more details!


Credit: OberazziIf you have any questions or suggestions about professional development programming you'd like to see in the future, please e-mail Robert Hamm, the Graduate Division's Director of Graduate Student Professional Development.




The Doctor Is In: December 2014 Edition

Source image credit: statue-of-libertyWelcome to the December 2014 edition of The Doctor Is In, a recurring column on The GradPost where UCSB faculty answer graduate students' questions about life in academia. In this installment, three members of our outstanding faculty panel answer your questions about seeking out a mentor and balancing competing priorities.

About Our Faculty Panel

Miroslava Chavez-GarciaDr. Miroslava Chávez-García is Professor and Vice-Chair of the Chicana & Chicano Studies Department at UCSB. She received her Ph.D. in History from UCLA and is the author of the book "States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System" as well as articles on gender, patriarchy, and the law in 19th century California. She organizes and leads professional development workshops for UCSB and the Ford Foundation and is particularly passionate about helping scholars of color navigate academia.

Aaron EttenbergDr. Aaron Ettenberg is a Professor in the Psychological & Brain Sciences Department at UCSB. He received his Ph.D. in Psychopharmacology from McGill University and conducts research on the neurobiology of reinforcement and motivation with particular interest in the neural basis of drug abuse. He is a recipient of the UCSB Distinguished Teaching Award and the UCSB Graduate Mentor Award.



Susannah ScottDr. Susannah Scott is a Professor at UCSB with a joint appointment in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry and Biochemistry. She received her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Iowa State University and is currently the director the NSF-sponsored Partnership for International Research and Education in Electron Chemistry and Catalysis at Interfaces, a collaborative research program involving UCSB and several prominent catalysis research groups in China. She was also recently named to the Duncan and Suzanne Mellichamp Chair in Sustainable Catalytic Processing.


Q: How should graduate students ask a faculty member to be their mentor, especially if that person is not his/her academic advisor?

Dr. Scott: A graduate student’s thesis advisor expects to play a mentoring role throughout the entire arc of the thesis project and beyond. At the same time, many graduate students do not take full advantage of the mentoring opportunities that this relationship offers. A thesis advisor may assume that a student who doesn’t ask for help is not looking for advice. You should meet with your advisor regularly (e.g., every week or two), and these meetings are often student-initiated. The faculty member will be most receptive if you come well-prepared to meetings: be prompt, organize and bring your materials, and make a copy to leave with your advisor.

Asking a faculty member who is not your thesis advisor requires a little more planning. You can approach someone a few minutes before or after a class and break the ice by asking a casual (not too personal) question. Most professors are willing to chat with a student who appears thoughtful and interested. If the conversation requires more than a few minutes, you can say, “Would you mind if I contact you for more advice later?” and follow the cues that you receive.

Most likely, the faculty member will ask you to stop by her or his office or to send an email requesting an appointment. It’s best to spread your requests over time; if you bring a long list of questions that requires a considerable time commitment to answer all at once, you will likely scare your prospective mentor off. It is a relationship to build slowly, so be prepared to start small. Once you get to know each other, longer conversations will happen naturally and will not feel burdensome to either party.

Dr. Chávez-García: I would approach potential mentors as I would approach potential advisors: ask myself tough questions, do my homework, and then approach them. First, I would ask myself why it is I want a mentor when I already have an advisor? In most cases, they are the same person but not always, as mentors fulfill professional as well as personal needs.

To me, a mentor is someone who listens attentively, responds promptly, and provides practical answers to your questions and concerns. A mentor is also someone who guides and protects you for selfless reasons – not because they seek personal gain or self-promotion but because they want to promote you and your work. A mentor can be a role model – someone you wish to emulate – but they can also come from a different space or place (or career). As such, you shouldn’t limit yourself to one mentor. Rather, seek two or three who can provide you with a wide variety of insight on academia, including keys to publishing, the job market, expanding professional networks, and raising a family.

Second, I would ask myself why that individual? Is the choice based on what you heard or what you know? In other words, do your research, read their work, and identify common interests. Once you’re certain that they are the “one,” make an appointment and bring with you a set of prepared questions and list of common areas of interests and experience. Be prepared to discuss expectations (with permission, you might even contact their students for input). Professors want to engage in intellectually stimulating conversations.

Finally, remember, these are long-term relationships that need cultivation but, ultimately, cannot be forced. In my experience, they have grown naturally from having similar work ethics, personalities, and goals.

Dr. Ettenberg: One can have multiple mentors – people whose guidance, advice, and support help promote one’s career – without jeopardizing one’s relationship with an academic advisor (who presumably is also a mentor). The easiest way to proceed is to ensure that potential mentors are members of one’s dissertation committee. In this scenario, you should discuss potential committee members with your advisor, who will have valuable input on who would be a good match for your project. Then make an appointment or drop by the prospective committee member’s office (don't do the request over email!) and present the invitation with an explanation of why you and your advisor think that the person would be a good mentor.

If, however, this question is referring to a situation where the academic advisor is not in fact the best match for you, then the matter becomes much more delicate. In that scenario, you should have a prospective faculty member in mind and confidentially bring the name to the department chair, who can provide input and advise you on department policies about such matters.

Keep in mind that such changes are easier early in your graduate career but are much more complicated down the line after the current advisor has already invested time, energy, and sometimes money in support of your career. Assuming that there are no obstacles identified by the chair, then you should – again, confidentially – approach the prospective new advisor and explain why he/she is being asked about assuming this new role.

Only after a suitable replacement advisor has agreed to serve in that capacity should you then have an open and honest discussion with your current advisor. Most professors I know would be understanding in this situation, and while they may not think that the move is a good one, they would not be vindictive or prevent you from making the requested change.

Q: How can one balance professional and/or creative pursuits along with graduate coursework and research?

Dr. Chávez-García: When I hear the word “balance” associated with academic life, I often cringe. I say this because, as we all know, what balance means to one person is sheer madness to another. I think what we really mean to say is “priorities,” that is, how do we prioritize our responsibilities as well as our desires? (We cannot forget to consider those things that keep us sane, energized, and motivated to do our work.)

I believe that prioritizing our professional and personal lives involves establishing short- and long-term goals and figuring out which ones are most important. As new students, we know that developing an original research project is at the top but we should also realize that creating a strong curriculum vitae and building a professional network are equally important.

Establish your goals on a yearly basis and break those down into smaller segments so that you know what your goals are for each month and/or week. Admittedly I don’t do this as often as I’d like, but I generally have a sense of what I want to achieve and what is expected of me.

Of course, we – especially as women and people of color – often run into the pressure of being asked to participate on some committee or event because of the need to appear to be inclusive across race, ethnicity, and gender. (In such cases, my suggestion is to be selective when you say “yes” and feel confident that you can say “no” by responding that you would be delighted to participate if you didn’t already have x, y, and/or z going on. Tell them, too, to ask you at another time so that you don’t burn any bridges.) There are ways to say no while still appearing collegial.

Dr. Scott: There is no doubt that graduate courses and original research are both intellectually demanding and very time-consuming for most people. These also often count as professional and/or creative pursuits. Doing them well requires a major investment of your energy and a substantial amount of inspiration, but they don’t (and shouldn’t) have to occupy all of your waking hours.

Most people find that they need to take periodic breaks from intense work in order to function at their best. Often a change in the type of pursuit can be just as effective at helping you to recharge. You will sometimes find that solutions to academic problems emerge while your brain is working on them in “background mode,” precisely because you are focused on something else.

Instead of feeling guilty about taking breaks, view them as necessary to your creativity. When I was a graduate student, I rehearsed with an orchestra (for no credit towards my Ph.D.), just because I liked to concentrate really hard on something that had nothing to do with my research several times a week. Your resume will also benefit from showing that you have broader interests than just your work.

You should check that you are using time off to recharge, and not just to avoid doing work that you dislike. The length of time you need depends on you, but a good strategy is to assess your productivity and recognize when it starts to decline.

You should also check in regularly with yourself and your advisor to make sure you are making good progress. Your research advisor should not count the hours that you put in at the lab or the library, if you are advancing steadily towards your research goals.

Got a question for our expert advisors? Email Shawn Warner-Garcia, Graduate Division’s Professional Development Peer, to submit your query.


UCSB Grad Life 2014: The Year in Pictures

Photo collage: Patricia Marroquin

2014 has been a year of triumphs and tragedies for UC Santa Barbara graduate students as well as the entire campus community. We decided to take a look back at a few of the events we captured in photographs this year. We have compiled these images into the video slide show below.

From receptions to the Grad Slam; Commencements to Orientation; and a memorial service to a memorable Nobel Prize win, we have experienced fun times, sad times, uplifting times, and unforgettable times.

As the quarter and the year draw to a close, we at the GradPost, the Graduate Student Resource Center, and the Graduate Division would like to wish each of you a wonderful holiday break and a Happy New Year!

Graduate students, thanks for the memories.


Graduate Student Umi Hoshijima Takes On Bitter Cold and Lightning Quick Penguins 

You may have already met second-year Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology grad student Umi Hoshijima and not even known it. When not in Antarctica doing research in the bitter cold, he can be found on weekends at the Paseo Nuevo Mall playing a gold accordion with a sign saying “help fund my Ph.D.”

Umi with kelpUmi Hoshijima and a handful of kelp. Credit: Crista DoughertyLike many graduate students, Umi has a unique life story. Umi was born in Kobe, Japan, but grew up in San Diego and has never lived more than three miles from the ocean. He got his B.S. in Biology from UC Santa Cruz, along with minors in Chemistry and Electronic Music. While there, he also gained notoriety with his accordion playing. One summer, he even earned enough money from busking to pay for his rent!

In addition to being a multi-instrumentalist (piano, guitar, upright bass, accordion, flute, and harmonica), he is also an NSF Graduate Research Fellow and a member of Professor Gretchen Hofmann’s research team in Antarctica. Currently, he is chronicling his experience in Antarctica on his blog. If you have time check it out.

Since the GradPost budget didn’t have enough money to send me to Antarctica to interview Umi, our interview took place over a series of emails. I asked him about what research was like in Antarctic conditions, winning an NSF fellowship, and his tips on surviving grad school. He had a lot to say, from his encounter with a lightning quick penguin to dealing with imposter syndrome.

How did you end up doing research in Antarctica?

I was invited to come to Antarctica by my advisor, Professor Gretchen Hofmann. We have about half of the lab here as our field team, and are all down for 11 weeks (late September to mid-December). We are researching pteropods (sea butterflies), a zooplankton that comprises an important part of the Antarctic food chain.

Umi holding a fallen chunk of the Barne Glacier (featured in the background) at Cape Royds Route, Ross Island, Antarctica. Photo courtesy of Umi Hoshijima

What are some of the adjustments you have to make when living and working in Antarctica?

Grad Student Spotlight logoThe first several weeks were extremely stormy, with gusts up to 40 knots and wind chill down to -50C. Along with the 24-hour daylight, the harsh continent has taken some getting used to. Although my diving experience helped a bit for dealing with the cold, this was a whole new experience that I was not ready for.

The Internet is also slow, and phone calls off-continent are difficult. And personal relationships are more difficult to maintain from here, but that’s just the nature of remote fieldwork.

What’s the most surprising thing from your Antarctic experience so far?

The single most surprising moment was when I narrowly avoided getting tackled by a penguin shooting out of the water! We had broken a hole in the sea ice to net for pteropods, and the penguins very quickly started using it as an exit hole.

I see from your blog you get to snowmobile and dive as part of work. Are there other fun things you do as part of your extracurricular activities?

Umi doing scubaUmi deploying dissolved oxygen sensors at Mesa Lane, Santa Barbara. Photo courtesy of Umi HoshijimaWhile the snowmobiling and scientific diving is fun, ultimately I do both as a way to collect data for my research. Outside of work I also end up in the ocean fairly frequently to spearfish, SCUBA dive, and skin dive.

What’s a typical day like for you in Antarctica?

I wake up at 5:00 and am in lab by 5:30. Some days we spend in the field, collecting our pteropods and collecting seawater for chemical analysis. Other days I am in lab, running experiments with my team. I eat two to three meals a day at the cafeteria, which provides calorie-rich food that we need in these cold climates. After dinner, I make phone calls home, read a book, or hang out with friends at the station’s coffee house/wine bar.

Any advice for grads who are going to do research in Antarctica?

Antarctic research requires good experience in the field, the willingness to build up a tolerance to cold weather, and good enthusiasm!

Now let’s talk about your life at UCSB as a graduate student. This is your second year at UCSB. What advice would you give to grad students to be successful?

Leaving the “imposter syndrome” behind is an extremely crucial part of succeeding in grad school. This is the feeling of inadequacy, or the feeling that you’ve somehow wormed yourself into this position without being qualified. Not only can this lower your self-esteem, but it can also disrupt your work-life balance. It’s crucial to understand that you worked hard to get yourself to where you are, and with continued hard work you can keep succeeding!

What is the your most favorite thing you do to relax?

Umi with accordianUmi busking on the streets of Santa Cruz with his gold accordion. Photo courtesy of Umi HoshijimaI love my bicycle commute from downtown, and ride it almost every day! I do weekend rides up the 101, as well as up Old San Marcos Road. In my free time I also compose electronic music, collect fountain pens, shoot and develop my own film photography, and roast my own coffee beans. One of my favorite places in Santa Barbara is the Mohawk Reef kelp forest (Mesa Lane stairs). Not only is it one of my local research sites, but it’s also a great spearfishing and skindiving spot!

What has been the biggest challenge in your life? 

My ongoing personal challenge is the balance of work and hobbies. I think that making time to pursue interests outside of work is crucial – and I’m optimistically considering this an ongoing accomplishment of mine! My favorite quarters in undergrad involved upper-division biology lectures alongside electronic music seminars. I love being able to exercise a different side of my creativity while working hard in my primary field.

How did you get interested in marine science?

I first discovered my love for marine sciences through a high school quiz bowl called the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB). It’s the beginning of the obsession that grew into a career path. We competed up to the national level with the immense support of my high school’s marine science teachers, Mr. Lee Decker and Mr. David James. Each of these gentlemen showed up an hour early to their jobs in order to make this happen, and I am eternally grateful for their contribution to my education.

You recently won an NSF fellowship. That’s exciting. Was this your first time applying?

Umi with cameraUmi has an eye on the future. Credit: Umi HoshijimaI received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship on my second time applying to it (I applied once before starting my Ph.D.). Being awarded the fellowship is an incredible honor and opportunity, giving me the chance to fully pursue my research in whatever direction I wish to. Along with this fellowship, I received a California Sea Grant award to study the development of cabezon fish eggs under simulated ocean acidification (high carbon dioxide) and hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions that are predicted to impact coastal areas in the near future. By understanding how vulnerable this large predatory fish species is as babies, we can continue to make predictions about how local kelp forests may be impacted as a community.

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

I am currently interested in pursuing a career in academia, so my dream job five years out of graduate school would be a tenure-track position as a biologist. I also hope to be working on my own Antarctic research grant, so I can bring my own future lab down to this amazing opportunity. If I decide not to pursue academia, I hope to be working with either a governmental or non-governmental organization on coastal conservation and scientifically informed active coastal management.


Important Message from GSA President on Graduate Student Housing Proposal

The Santa Ynez housing complex.

Dear Graduate Students,

I have a very exciting announcement regarding a proposal that would change the future of graduate student housing at UCSB. Concern has grown over the past few years regarding the prohibitively high cost of housing for graduate students and the fact that San Clemente is no longer an exclusively graduate student community.

GSA President Zach Rentz at 2014 New Graduate Student Orientation.In response, I have been working closely with administration officials, and we have come up with an exciting potential solution to this very serious problem. The proposal is that we move the graduate student community from San Clemente to Santa Ynez, which will be reserved exclusively for graduate students. To be very clear, this is only a proposal and there would not be any changes in the 2015–2016 academic year. Numerous alternatives were extensively explored, including the possibility of decreasing rent in San Clemente or having the University subsidize graduate student housing, and those alternatives unfortunately were not feasible. This proposed solution seems like it is the most realistically implementable plan, which will yield the greatest benefit to the graduate student body.

In the near future, I will be sending out a survey to all graduate students so you can personally voice your support, ask any questions, and raise your concerns. A move like this simply cannot and should not be made without your input, and we want to hear what you think.

 Making this move will yield numerous benefits:

  • While San Clemente's apartments are currently priced at approximately 20% above market rates, rooms in Santa Ynez will be approximately 20% below market. The precise numbers have not yet been worked out, but essentially, rent for the rooms in Santa Ynez will be substantially less than rent in San Clemente.
  • We are exploring the possibility of offering both single rooms and double rooms. If living in a double room, your rent would drop even farther below market.
  • Making Santa Ynez a community solely consisting of graduate students will lead to the creation of a living environment that is more conducive to scholarship, academic exchange, and social engagement.
  • As part of the current proposal, grad students would still be able to live in San Clemente if they want to. The crux of this proposal is that Santa Ynez would be reserved for graduate students at substantially lower rates than are available in San Clemente.

I will be sharing more information with you as it becomes available. I am sure you have lots of questions, and there are definitely many details that are still being worked out. Nevertheless, I thought it was time to share this very exciting news with you!

This opportunity to improve graduate student life could not have been possible without the very hard work of Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti; Assistant Dean Christian Villasenor; Willie Brown, Executive Director of Housing and Residential Services; and Martin Shumaker, CFO of Housing and Residential Services. I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the graduate student body and myself, to thank them for the considerable amount of time that each of them has spent on this matter. We are grateful to each of you.

Again, I am sure that many of you have questions about this, but please be patient and as more information becomes available, I will share it with you immediately.

In the meantime, I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Zachary I. Rentz
Graduate Students Association
University of California, Santa Barbara


Investor Christian Felipe Gives $1 Million Gift to UCSB's Technology Management Program

Christian Felipe. Credit: Spencer Bruttig, Office of Public Affairs and CommunicationsInvestor Christian Felipe has given a $1 million endowment to UCSB’s Technology Management Program in support of the new Master’s degree in Technology Management. The money will establish a new endowed professorship for the emerging program, which has been designed to catapult engineers and scientists toward becoming leaders of technology ventures. Felipe hopes the new chair will enable TMP to attract a top senior faculty recruit.

In an Office of Public Affairs and Communications (OPAC) news release, Felipe said, "Knowing that a lot of technology students don’t have all the business knowledge, I thought it was a great opportunity to create future entrepreneurs and technology leaders by supporting the Technology Management Program."

For more information on the endowment, read the OPAC release.

“Knowing that a lot of technology students don’t have all the business knowledge, I thought it was a great opportunity to create future entrepreneurs and technology leaders by supporting the Technology Management Program,” Felipe said of his endowment. - See more at:

The Doctor Is In: November 2014 Edition

Source image credit: statue-of-libertyWelcome to the inaugural edition of The Doctor Is In, a recurring column on The GradPost where UCSB faculty answer graduate students' questions about life in academia. In this installment, three members of our outstanding faculty panel answer your questions about balancing competing priorities, the hardest part about writing a dissertation, and bouncing back from setbacks and disappointments.

About Our Faculty Panel

Miroslava Chavez-GarciaDr. Miroslava Chávez-García is Professor and Vice-Chair of the Chicana & Chicano Studies Department at UCSB. She received her Ph.D. in History from UCLA and is the author of the book "States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California's Juvenile Justice System" as well as articles on gender, patriarchy, and the law in 19th century California. She organizes and leads professional development workshops for UCSB and the Ford Foundation and is particularly passionate about helping scholars of color navigate academia.

Merith CosdenDr. Merith Cosden is a Professor and Interim Dean of the Givertz Graduate School of Education at UCSB. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of New Mexico and conducts research on drug courts and intervention for individuals with substance abuse and mental health problems in the criminal justice system. She is a recipient of the UCSB Graduate Mentor Award and the Santa Barbara Psychological Association Legacy Award.

Aaron EttenbergDr. Aaron Ettenberg is a Professor in the Psychological & Brain Sciences Department at UCSB. He received his Ph.D. in Psychopharmacology from McGill University and conducts research on the neurobiology of reinforcement and motivation with particular interest in the neural basis of drug abuse. He is a recipient of the UCSB Distinguished Teaching Award and the UCSB Graduate Mentor Award.



Q: How can one balance professional and/or creative pursuits along with graduate coursework and research?

Dr. Ettenberg: Graduate students work hard, there’s no question about that! However, most graduate students have no sense of how much heavier the workload will be if they succeed and get a job in the private or academic sector post-graduation. So if you think you are working hard now as a graduate student, you should know that the load gets only heavier and the hill significantly steeper as you begin life in the “real” world after UCSB.

All that simply means that there’s no better time than now, when you are still in graduate school, to learn how to successfully juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities – indeed, your success in learning to presently meet this challenge will make your path far easier down the road. So what to do? How to begin? You could actually hire a career coach or consultant (for a considerable fee); this is someone who gets paid to help executives handle time management challenges. But here’s a sneak peak at their approach – and with no payment required!

First, you have to sit down with a pen and paper and calendar and identify the various tasks and responsibilities that are on your desk, including upcoming items that you know will soon arrive on that desk. Literally mark down what needs to be accomplished over the next week or month or quarter. Get organized! Then, identify realistic deadlines by which each task needs to be completed. Finally, look at your schedule and – again realistically – allocate time in your day or week or month for successfully meeting each deadline. Then stick to your plan!

In my own personal experience, you can no longer afford to simply deal with just one thing at a time; there are simply too many things that require your attention. If you are the kind of person that leaves everything to the last moment, then you will eventually begin dropping the ball and letting things pile up and inevitably fall through the cracks (pick your metaphor). Yes, it will seem strange and a bit of a pain at the start, but once you get into the habit of successfully organizing and managing your time, of looking ahead and planning for what’s to come and not just what’s directly in front of you, then you will find that you are not only accomplishing more and being more efficient, but remarkably you will also find that you have actually freed up more time for activities that you want to do and not just have to do.

Dr. Cosden: My advice is twofold. First, tell yourself that graduate school is not a normal time in your life; it is five or six years devoted to your training. Thus, you may not have as much time as you would like or that you will have in the future for other activities. Second, do spend time with friends, especially those that understand your pressures and availabilities. Make fellow students your friends and not your competitors, and you will have them now and for years to come. For the important people in your life who are not students, help them understand what it means to be on a strange quarter schedule. Enjoy time with them when it fits the quarter, and work harder when you have obligations and deadlines without feeling stressed or getting behind in your work.  

Q: What was the biggest hurdle you faced writing your dissertation and how did you overcome it?

Dr. Chávez-García: That’s an easy answer – writing. In graduate school, writing was extremely difficult for me because I came to it with weak writing skills. As an immigrant and native Spanish-speaker from a low-income, working class background, I was far removed from writing intelligently, much less academically. And, even though I attended a prestigious public undergraduate institution, I received little one-on-one instruction. I simply fell through the cracks, as many do in the 30,000+ student body populations.

When I got to graduate school, little did I know that my writing was indeed poor. Fortunately, a professor suggested I take a basic course at a community college, a suggestion that alerted me to the gravity of the situation. I was even more fortunate in my third year of graduate school when my advisor took me under his wing and taught me nearly everything I needed to know about writing. It was a painful process, but writing well enough to be understood by a general audience was (and remains) a priceless gift.

As an Assistant Professor, I improved my writing by strengthening the mechanics of the process, enabling me to publish a first book. It was not until I was an Associate Professor working on a second book that I developed a style that allowed me to engage a wider audience. And, I must admit, I actually enjoyed the process, even though it was difficult. But before I began writing, I made up my mind that I wanted “regular” people – not just academics – to read my book. To learn new writing techniques, I read many books (mostly historical fiction) by authors I sought to emulate as well as books and journals on the process of scholarly and popular writing. I even joined Writer’s Digest. Through that process, I produced a study that I know has been read by more people than the first. I hope to make my new project – a family history – even more widely accessible.

Today, I continue to polish my writing by attending writing workshops, circulating preliminary work to colleagues, and submitting articles to journals for publication. And, I would add, writing for blogs and similar online spaces also enhances the fluidity that should (but often does not) come with writing. Rejection notices – while painful (I’ve learned to contain the pain, something you’ll learn over the years) – provide a useful opportunity to expand your lexicon and style. I also recommend organizing or participating in peer-based writing groups, which I only recently attended since graduate school, and found it immensely energizing and rewarding. Writing is a lonely and difficult process and, as I often say, the main reason why people don’t finish their Ph.Ds. and why associate professors don’t advance to full professors, but you can find ways to change that without heading down an abyss.

Dr. Ettenberg: This one is simple – the biggest hurdle I faced in writing my dissertation was Time – and more specifically, my inadequate estimation of how much time would be required to complete the task. And I can honestly tell you that in my 32 years of mentoring graduate students here at UCSB, that hurdle is as relevant today as it was back in the Pleistocene Age when I was writing my own dissertation in 1980. Truly every one of the 16 doctoral students that I have mentored during my tenure here has underestimated (admittedly to varying degrees) the amount of time it took to complete the writing of their dissertation. The need for multiple drafts, incorporating the comments of one’s advisor and committee members, the time it takes to check references, footnotes and citations, of ensuring that the document is carefully edited for grammatical and spelling errors, etc. is well in excess of what you will think it will take to complete these tasks.

And of course the driving force here cannot be a campus deadline for dissertation submission – you, the student, need to make certain that you give yourself (and your committee) sufficient time to read, evaluate and edit the document before it is ready for final submission.  The argument that “the committee has to read this by next week or I won't be able to graduate at the end of fall quarter” is, quite frankly, not the committee’s problem, it is the student’s problem. So give yourself ample time to complete the component tasks required for dissertation submission, and then double that number and you will better approximate how long it will actually take. (And no, I am not kidding!)

Now of course the time required to write a dissertation does vary by discipline and by graduate student within each discipline, so the best advice I can give you is to sit down with your advisor and identify a realistic timetable for the various steps that you will need to take in order to accomplish your goal. You can start with a campus submission deadline and then work backward…. how long does the committee need to read the thesis, how long will you need to complete changes/edits required by the committee, how long will it take to complete the first draft of each chapter, etc. Then take your timeline and run it by your advisor for a reality check. And then take his/her advice about any changes (usually lengthening) to your proposed timeline. Your advisor has much more experience about such matters than you do! Do not fool yourself into thinking that if you lock yourself in a room and work through without resting that you will be able to complete this in less time than your advisor proposes – you won’t! And if by some chance you will, then it is highly likely that the quality of your product will not be up to the standards that your advisor, the committee, or even yourself would like to see.

Q: How do you recommend bouncing back from a setback or disappointment in graduate school (such as taking an incomplete in a class, failing to get published or accepted to a conference, or missing a milestone deadline)?

Dr. Cosden: Evaluation is not just part of a graduate student’s plight. As faculty members, we are often evaluated professionally – in terms of our publications, presentations, teaching, and promotions. Thus, learning to deal with negative feedback is important for one’s long-term career. When receiving a negative review of one’s research or failure to get a paper accepted, my recommendation is to be sad and angry for a while and then to see how the feedback makes sense. We tend to get so close to our work that we are not able to evaluate it effectively ourselves. It is sometimes the case that we do not express our ideas as clearly as needed. A lot of the feedback we receive is useful, and the rest you can ignore.

Taking an incomplete or missing a milestone represent a different type of setback. One of the hardest things for graduate students to learn is how to organize their time and establish realistic goals. In my experience, almost all graduate students underestimate the time required for their dissertations. You need to give yourself enough time to accomplish each task. This means devoting the time needed to your graduate student requirements as well as setting realistic timelines for your work.

Got a question for our expert panel? Submit your query to Shawn Warner-Garcia, the Graduate Division’s Professional Development Peer Advisor.