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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2016
Peer Advisor Availability

Writing Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tue: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Funding Peer
Stephanie Griffin
Mon: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: noon-2 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Ana Romero

Mon: noon-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-1 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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Mark Your Calendar: Intensive Dissertation Writing Retreat Coming in September

Credit: Neal SancheAre you in the midst of your dissertation and in need of more structure and inspiration? Would you like to make some serious progress on your dissertation this summer? Then you should consider applying to the 2015 Intensive Dissertation Writing Retreat, co-sponsored by the Graduate Division and Summer Sessions.

Many writers lose steam after completing the first chapter of their dissertation, and progress can slow tremendously. The Intensive Dissertation Writing Retreat is a free four-day writing workshop aimed at helping Ph.D. students in the middle stages of their dissertation process by providing intensive writing times, breakout sessions with a facilitator on typical dissertation issues (including dealing with procrastination, managing research and sources, and writing to work through difficult ideas), one-on-one consultations with the facilitator, and peer consultations. Participants will gain strategies and tools to create positive writing habits and thus become more efficient and productive writers.

The Intensive Dissertation Writing Retreat is open to doctoral students from all disciplines and will take place Monday, Sept. 14, through Thursday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (location TBA). You are eligible to apply if you are a Ph.D. student who:

  • Has advanced to candidacy
  • Has completed a chapter of your dissertation
  • Is committed to attending all sessions of the Writing Retreat

The application process for the Writing Retreat will open Monday, Aug. 17, and close Friday, Aug. 28. [Update 8/14/15: The application window has been revised to open on Friday, Aug. 14, and close Monday, Aug. 24 in order to ensure timely notification to applicants.] A reminder notification will be sent out once the application process opens. Interested students will need to complete a short application that includes the following information: 

  • A brief (approximately 150 words) description of your dissertation project
  • A list of your work/progress on your research and writing up to this point
  • Any obstacles you have encountered in your writing thus far
  • Expectations for what you hope to accomplish during the writing retreat
  • Identify specific writing issues with which you would like help

Please note: The Intensive Dissertation Writing Retreat is limited to 20 participants. Students who are selected to participate will be notified by Sept. 1.

Have questions about the Intensive Dissertation Writing Retreat? Please email Robert Hamm (



Peer Advisors' Office Hours for Summer 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, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: 10 a.m. to noon

Writing Peer & Funding Peer, Kyle Crocco
Monday and Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Communications Peer, Melissa Rapp
Monday: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wednesday: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Diversity Peer, Charles Williams
By appointment

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.


UC Humanities Graduate Students Ask Big Career Questions at San Diego Conference

How does my experience and training as a graduate student matter?

This was the fundamental question addressed at the Humanists@Work conference in San Diego, a one-day event sponsored by the UC Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI). Geared towards UC Humanities and humanistic Social Science graduate students, the event provided guidance for those considering careers beyond academia. Through interactive workshops, panels, and collaborative activities, attendees sought to weld together the necessary skills of career preparation with their work as young scholars. Over 75 graduate students from all of the UC campuses – including 31 students sponsored by UCHRI – attended the event, which sought to foster frank conversations about the experiences of current graduate students.

Below you will find recaps of each part of the conference – Stories from the Field, Exploring Options for Humanities Ph.D.s, The Art of the Informational Interview, and Don't Call It a Template: Unraveling Your Resume's Purpose, Content, and Design – as well as links to related resources and videos.



This panel of recent UC Humanities Ph.D.s shared their stories as humanists at work in the world – in government, educational consulting, public humanities program management, and university administration. Panelists discussed their transition from the academy to other sites of work, reflecting upon the ways they integrated their doctoral training with their career interests. Here is a list of the panelists and some of the questions they fielded:

Adam Lowenstein received his Ph.D. in English from UCLA in 2011 and spent a year lecturing full time in the English Department before joining an education startup in San Diego called Summa Education. Adam is now the Vice President of Counseling and Enrollment at Summa, a position which allows him to work closely with middle and high school students as they navigate their idiosyncratic paths to college and career.

Sarah Rebolloso McCullough is the Associate Director of the Center for the Humanities at UC San Diego. Prior to this position, she received her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies from UC Davis and wrote about what the bike boom of the 1970s can teach us about the relationship between nature, technology, counterculture, and innovation.

Natalie Purcell earned her Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz’s Department of Sociology in June 2011, and she is currently the Patient Centered Care Program Director at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center – a full-service health care system serving over 40,000 patients in seven Northern California counties. Natalie is also a faculty member in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UC San Francisco.

Q: What conversations were you having in grad school that set you up for these post-Ph.D. opportunities?

Natalie: At UC Santa Cruz, there was a lot of openness and support. Grad students were not being channeled exclusively into a tenure-track position. I found many people who were willing to support me on my journey. However, opportunities like this [Humanists@Work] workshop weren’t available, and my committee members didn’t necessarily have the resources to support me to take a non-academic path. A lot of time you have to seek out where the expertise for non-traditional positions is located in the university. Adjunct faculty and lecturers can be a good resource.

Adam: As a grad student, I felt constrained by the lack of conversation about the state of the profession. The bottom line is, it’s about how you can translate what you do into a job. You’re not going to vocational school, so you have to evaluate your skills and your training yourself. We need to find other narratives to talk about humanities education and career paths, because the reality is that many of us do have educational debt and it does matter to have a paycheck. I wish professors would openly discuss alternatives. There needs to be more engagement with the ironies and realities of being in a graduate program.

Q: How do you develop your professional network since grad school can be so isolating?

Adam: Get everyone’s contact information here!

Sarah: Doors open when you remain curious. When you’re trying to curate the small amounts of time you do have, do it in the direction of things that drive you.

Natalie: You don’t always know what a job will be in advance, but you have to figure out ways to bring your training and experience to the job to make it more meaningful to you and those you work with. Make your own workplace as livable as possible and add value to your employer. Open up the space for conversations that didn’t exist in that environment before.

Q: How do you deal with an academic culture that looks down on Alternative-Academic (Alt-Act) or non-professorial careers?

Adam: It’s not like my committee wasn’t supportive, but they almost went mute on the issue. They may have no idea how to help grad students how to navigate this reality, so universities need to have more training for faculty mentors and advisors.

Sarah: By maintaining relationships with your colleagues, particularly those that go on to do work outside the university, you can help validate intellectual work that is more applied.

Q: How do you deal with bias outside of academia against those with Ph.D.s?

Natalie: I don’t think that having a Ph.D. is ever a bad thing in the job market. It’s all in how you’re describing what you’re capable of and what your skill set is. You bring this set of skills that’s really desirable because you’ve done research, teaching, analysis, and public speaking. These skills are widely marketable.

Q: Did any of you mourn your academic career?

Adam: I didn’t feel much grief about not landing an academic job. But there were lots of peaks and valleys and uncertainty along the way. It was helpful to have a supportive network. There is an element of luck to it, but you have to be open to and actively looking for opportunities. Persistence is key. Maybe also shredding your dissertation in some ritual of extradition.

Natalie: My mourning happened later because I was initially excited about going into the public sector. Once I realized that I didn’t get to set my own research agenda and ask my own research questions, I wanted to find a way to re-engage with that, and I am still searching. I negotiated with the VA to drop down to part time and got a research position at another university. Maybe this bridge didn’t exist before but I’m going to try to build it.

Sarah: You will always be an intellectual. Keep coming back to that, and you’ll find that even the most mundane tasks can be reframed in research-centered ways.

Related Resources:

Presidential Management Fellowship Program

National Association of Independent Schools



Workshop with Dr. Debra Behrens

Workshop PowerPoint Slides

Work Values Inventory (PDF) – Values are an important part in the career decision-making process. It is important to select career options that best fit your values. Use this worksheet to discover your core values as well as your ideal types of work environments, interactions, and activities.

Related Resources:

Pathways Program – Program for recruiting students and recent graduates into federal service

Idealist – Job listings for non-profit organizations

The Ladders – Career match service



Workshop with Dr. Debra Behrens

Workshop PowerPoint Slides



Workshop with Jared Redick

(Video from 2014 workshop in Berkeley)

Some takeaway points from the workshop:

  • The first step in the job search process is to do career research without preconceived notions. This is where informational interviews can come in particularly handy, but most of this research will be done online through websites such as Google, Indeed, LinkedIn, and GlassDoor.
  • Be your own advocate and stay open to diverse possibilities. Some people take degrees off their resume and that really goes against the grain of what Jared was trying to do because you’re trying to build and display your body of work through your resume. You have a story to tell; it’s just a little bit harder to tell it and you need to find the people that will value it.
  • Organize your resume into core themes that connect with the job ad. Draw these categories from your job description analysis (link to materials below) and put them into “buckets” that organize your experience and skills.
  • Get specific when describing the core skills you have demonstrated in your prior experience. Instead of saying “I am a great communicator,” say “I have presented X number of times” or “I have taught X number of classes/workshops/etc.”
  • Quantify when possible. How many years? How many people? How many languages? How much revenue?
  • Pro-tip from converting CV to resume: Put all the important/relevant things that won’t fit on a resume on a resume addendum and/or on your LinkedIn profile.
  • How can we make visible (and valuable) the often-invisible work of being a grad student? Some ways to account on a resume for the hard work of dissertating:
    • Source compilation, integration, and synthesis
    • Grant writing
    • Committee coordination/team management
    • Data collection, annotation, and analysis
    • Field research
    • Travel to different communities/countries
    • Clearance and compliance management
    • Conduct interviews
    • Applied quantitative and/or qualitative methods

Job Description Analysis Materials - As a career planner/changer, you’re looking for the intersection between your experience and what the market wants. You’re looking for unifying ideas or common themes that appear in the various descriptions. An analysis of job descriptions you’re interested in will give clues about what to address in your job application documents (i.e., your resume and cover letter), and how to focus your talking points during your job search. You will eventually build your story around these keywords and phrases.

Workshop Resume Example

Author’s Note: I would like to thank UCHRI and UCSB’s Graduate Division for their support of my trip to Humanists@Work. I would also like to thank Kelly Anne Brown for her insight and collaboration.


Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Daniel Hieber on Revitalizing Languages, Rock Climbing, and Research Motivation

Danny Hieber at Grad SlamDanny Hieber at the Grad Slam semifinal. Credit: Patricia MarroquinOnly in his second year of UCSB's Linguistics doctoral program, Daniel Hieber already has a Grad Slam win under his belt. His smooth and well-prepared presentation made him an instant standout, and he took first place at UCSB's 2015 competition. Danny then went on to the inaugural UC-wide Grad Slam and scored another win, an impressive second place!

Before coming to UCSB, Danny graduated with a double major in linguistics and philosophy from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He then spent several years working before returning to pursue a doctoral degree. He is currently working on his master's project, titled "The Interaction of Tone and Prosody in Ekegusii Folktales." In this Spotlight interview, Danny shares some valuable advice for succeeding in graduate school, as well as how he earned a third degree black belt in karate!

Where did you grow up? Tell us a little about your childhood.

I grew up in a small town in the Shenandoah Valley (where the Appalachians cut through Virginia), a beautiful area with lots of hiking and small family-owned farms. Much of the area was settled by Old-Order Mennonites, so I learned to drive with lots of horse-and-buggies on the road! I have one younger sister, and both of us are first-generation college students.

Are there any particular experiences that had a big influence on you and helped shape who you are today?

My travel experiences have been some of the most formative events in my life, and have a lot to do with me becoming a linguist and an anthropologist. I didn't really travel before college, but in college I spent a month hiking the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage across northern Spain. I also spent a year living in Kenya. Traveling gave me an interest in the huge variety of cultures and languages around the world. 

Danny enjoying a sunny drive with his friend's dog Charlie, who he often takes care of. Photo courtesy of Daniel HieberTell us a little about your research and how you came to choose the topic.

I look at the patterns and grammatical structures across languages, and try to explain why we see these same patterns in language after language or, more interestingly, how there can be such amazingly diverse ways for languages to accomplish similar tasks.

This area of linguistics is called language typology. But in order to do language typology, you need to know what language patterns are out there in the world. Since most of the world's languages are under-documented, I also do fieldwork in East Africa, documenting a language called Ekegusii (or Kisii).

I first started working with endangered languages at Rosetta Stone, a company that makes language-learning software. We worked with a variety of Native American groups to create language-learning software in their languages, and I've been working with some of those groups ever since.

Danny with his sister, visiting Chaucer's Books on her first visit here. Photo courtesy of Daniel Hieber

What has graduate student life been like for you?

I was out of school for five years while working at Rosetta Stone, so it's been an absolute thrill to be back in academia and to get to do linguistics all day, every day. (And night. And weekends. And holidays!) You have to love your field of study to do a Ph.D., but thankfully grad school has only made me more passionate about linguistics.

What do you wish you had known before you started grad school?

I wish I had realized how little time there would be for my own research agenda during the coursework phase of my Ph.D., especially on the fast-paced quarter system. I would have taken on fewer projects and submitted to fewer conferences when I was starting my degree.

What do you like most about grad school and what do you like least?

My least favorite part of grad school is when I'm unable to make my class assignments and term papers relevant to my own research. Or worse, when it is relevant and even really exciting, but I don't have the time to pursue it! I've got a lot of half-finished projects floating around because of that.

My favorite part is getting to learn from not just the incredible faculty in the department, but also from our awesome cohort of grad students. I walk out of my meetings feeling excited and brimming with ideas, and I never fail to be amazed when I attend one of our students' talks. Living in Santa Barbara isn't so bad either!

Danny holds a third degree black belt in karate. Photo courtesy of Daniel HieberWhat has been a source of motivation for you in your graduate studies?

I'm privileged to work with some amazing communities who are passionate about revitalizing their languages. I help them make dictionaries, classroom materials, and grammar guides, which they then use in their language revitalization efforts. Seeing the direct and very meaningful impact of my research for these communities is one of the most rewarding parts of my work.

Who are your heroes or mentors and why?

Two of my heroes are Benjamin Paul and Delphine Ducloux, the last two fluent speakers of Chitimacha, one of the languages I work with. They were so dedicated to preserving their language that they worked with two different linguists 20 years apart to record hundreds of pages of stories in the language. If not for their efforts on the Chitimacha Tribe's language revitalization, my work would not be possible today.

I also have an incredible amount of admiration and respect for the members of the language teams I've worked with Kim Walden, Rachel Vilcan, Sam Boutte, Lorene Legah, Lorraine Manavi, and Edna MacLean who all worked tirelessly for years on end to give new life to their languages. They inspire me in my work every day.

Danny enjoys rock climbing at the Santa Barbara Rock Gym a few times a week. Photo courtesy of Daniel Hieber

Name an accomplishment you are most proud of and why.

I think I'm most proud of my third degree black belt in karate, just because I started doing karate when I was 13, so it's the longest thing I've consistently devoted time to learning and perfecting 15 years now!

What do you do to relax?

I love martial arts and practice every day, but I enjoy mixing it up with any sort of exercise as cross-training: running, strength training, rock climbing, yoga, you name it. It's the first thing I do after classes each day, and the perfect way to relax before settling in to work for the evening. I'm a huge wine and cheese fan, so I spend a lot of time at C'est Cheese in Santa Barbara. I also play piano, and my favorite composer is Chopin, though I'll also play anything Disney.

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

I'm a closet Classicist. I read Latin and did a philosophy major in undergrad specializing in Greek philosophy.

Do you have any advice for current grad students?

Don't wait for someone to give you permission to start doing your own research, but do get as much feedback on that research from your peers and your faculty as you can. Establish your research agenda early, and make sure you pick something you love, because you'll be spending a lot of time on it.

What was it like coming in first place in the 2015 UCSB Grad Slam?

Danny says he often pairs wine with audio transcription of endangered languages. Syrahs pair well with the Ekegusii language, he finds. Photo courtesy of Daniel HieberIt was both exhilarating and incredibly humbling at the same time. Exhilarating because the crowd completely erupted when my name was called. There was so much energy in the room. And humbling because every single one of the other talks was so fantastic, and the students so brilliant, that it was an absolute honor to present alongside them.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Just to say thanks to the entire Graduate Division for putting together such an awesome event! Not to mention Yardi, QAD, and Sonos for their sponsorships. I think the Grad Slam more than accomplished its goal of highlighting the incredible work that our grad students are doing at UCSB. As a grad student, you tend to have more loyalty to your department than to your university, but seeing the caliber of students competing in Grad Slam really made me proud to be a Gaucho as well.


Year in Review: A Look Back at Professional Development Activities for Graduate Students

 Do you have suggestions for future professional development programming or resources you'd like the Graduate Division to offer? Email your ideas to Robert Hamm!


UCSB Grad Students React to Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: One Big Step, but More Work to Do

Credit: Patricia MarroquinIn a landmark 5-4 decision on Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all 50 states. Reactions ranged from anger and disappointment to pride and jubilation. Gay rights supporters including President Obama took to social media, using the hashtag #LoveWins.

The GradPost interviewed a few graduate students to get their reactions to this historic civil rights ruling. They told us that while they were pleased with the decision, they realized that it is but one step in an ongoing process for equality.



Timothy Irvine, MA candidate, Global Studies; UCSB GSA Vice President, Committees and Planning, 2015-2016

“As a human being, a queer individual, and an activist, my first reaction to the SCOTUS decision is a blend of happiness, anger, and relief. I am happy for all of the individuals who have waited so long for this moment, and for the joy of love to be out in the light of day with full legal protections. I am also angry at the fact that this process has taken so long, cost so many lives, and must still survive a conservative backlash that continues to dehumanize and threaten violence against our communities. 

"The most fitting feeling I would say is relief," said Timothy Irvine.The most fitting feeling, however, I would say is relief. I am relieved that this landmark, high-level decision has finally been made. Every individual has the fundamental right to have their consensual, adult, loving relationship recognized by society's institutions. It is a huge relief for this to finally be recognized by the highest body of the judiciary in the USA, and it will set an example for other states and bodies to follow around the globe. The legal foundation for future civil rights victories is now clearly, finally laid.

However, as a person of relative privilege, and as someone active in local UCSB and statewide UC politics, I have a responsibility to point out that the legal right to marry is only one narrow victory that will benefit the LGBTQ community in disproportionate ways. Despite achieving a symbolically, politically, and actually important victory, this legal change alone will not shift the cultural and social practices of homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and/or racism that perpetuates violence, regardless of what the law says. In my opinion, ending persistent extra-legal violence must be prioritized as we move forward and capitalize on this political win. 

Despite shifting legal structures that previously supported oppression and violence, we must continue to organize to change the hearts and minds of those who would actively inflict pain on our community members, or those who would passively allow it to happen without protest.

Mario Galicia Jr.In short, the LGBTQ community and its allies must not be satisfied with just achieving the legal right to marry, even if we deserve to be proud of all of the very hard work that went into this important victory. Marriage is just the beginning. There is so much left to do.”


Mario Galicia Jr., Doctoral candidate, Education

“I'm ecstatic that the SCOTUS has ruled in favor of marriage equality. I believe it is the right choice for our country moving forward. As we work on all of our civil rights struggles, the legal rights to all must be ensured. This is a step in the right direction.”


Melissa Barthelemy, History Ph.D. student

Melissa Barthelemy, left, and Julia Diane Larson"My wife Julia Diane Larson (UCSB Library staff member) and I have been married for over six years because we were able to rush to the altar a week before Proposition 8 passed in California. Being married has personally (and economically) meant so much to us, that I am thrilled this right is being extended throughout the nation. Everyone deserves to live a life filled with dignity and love. As we celebrate this crucial milestone let us not forget how much other work is still left to be done to ensure the basic human rights of others. Solidarity and compassion build community."


Alex Kulick, Sociology MA/Ph.D. student; graduate assistant, Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity

Alex Kulick“Living in California and being 23 and not in a committed relationship, it’s not a huge moment for me on a personal level. But I think definitely being able to recognize the impact it has on the larger community is really important to me, especially those folks who live in states where, without this type of federal ruling, it would have taken much longer or maybe never have happened. ...

The LGBT community has been talking a lot recently about what are the next steps after marriage, what are the issues that we want to focus on. There’s still a lot to do in terms of health care, employment, housing. And so I think it’s really exciting to have this step in the process of continuing to work toward equality. I think it’s definitely a big step, especially with the amount of media coverage around this and the amount of conversation that’s happening is helpful to get the energy, to continue the energy going toward some of those other issues as well.” 


For more information, read the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications' article, "A Historic Moment."


Accomplishments and Hard Work Honored at 2015 Graduate Division Commencement Ceremony

More than 400 students received advanced degrees and certificates at UC Santa Barbara Graduate Division's Commencement. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Empowerment, discovery, achievement, and humanitarianism were the predominant themes during UC Santa Barbara Graduate Division’s Commencement celebration Sunday on the Faculty Club Green.  An audience of enthusiastic family and friends cheered on the 420 graduates as they received their master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, and certificates.

Chancellor Henry T. Yang called the graduate students "indispensable partners." Credit: Patricia MarroquinChancellor Henry T. Yang acknowledged the hard work and sacrifices not only of the graduates but also of their families. “I know what it took to get you where you are today,” he told the students. “You have met the highest standards of our university and your professors,” he said.

“You as graduate students have been indispensable partners in our research and teaching work,” Chancellor Yang added. “In fact, when we recruit faculty, the excellence and diversity of our graduate students are key factors of attraction. Our undergraduates learn from you and see you as their inspirational role models. Our professors work with you and see you as our research collaborators.”

In her address, Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti told the graduates that they have become authorities in their fields. “This is a moment to recognize your empowerment,” she said.

“Your power and authority,” she added, “have come from countless hours spent in study and concentration – from pushing yourself to grasp original concepts and formulate new ideas; from applying your creativity to complex problems; from bringing into the light that which was previously invisible.”

Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti told the graduates it was their moment to recognize their empowerment. Credit: Patricia MarroquinAlong with that education comes a duty, Dean Genetti reminded the graduates. “Always remember that with the privilege of your advanced degree comes a profound responsibility to enable positive change.”

Commencement student speaker and Education doctoral candidate Mario Galicia Jr. had a similar message for his fellow graduates. He spoke about the faculty, colleagues, family, and friends who offered him guidance and support through the years and encouraged him to pursue his goals.

“They’ve taught me to believe in myself and trust in others, shifting my perspective in life from seeking what’s best for me to what’s best for us,” he said.

Student Speaker Mario Galicia Jr. led a Unity Clap for graduates. Credit: Patricia MarroquinHe encouraged graduates to “engage local youth organizations wherever you go from here. Reach out to them, tell them who you are, what you do. Ask how you can help. The way in which we treat our youth can make a huge difference with how our future will look. We can all begin by understanding the privilege that our degrees bestow upon us and finding a way to help others in a lesser situation.”

He ended his speech by leading the graduates in a rousing “communal moment”: the Unity Clap.

The keynote speaker, Executive Vice Chancellor David Marshall, spoke of the value of research, whether visible or not.

Keynote speaker Dr. David Marshall spoke of the value of all research. Credit: Patricia Marroquin“Whatever our disciplines or career paths, we must argue for the value of voyages of discovery, voyages that take us through history to the origins of the universe, voyages that take us to the future,” he said. “We must demonstrate the value of what we do. But we must not lose sight of the value that may not be visible. Unsuspected Nobel Prizes, untold strokes of genius. … And this is the work that makes our university worth defending.”

The Winifred and Louis Lancaster Dissertation Awards were presented to Kenneth Hough and Patrick Keeley. Kenneth (Ph.D., History, 2014) was recognized as the Lancaster recipient for the best dissertation in the field of Arts and Humanities for his dissertation on imagining a Japanese conquest of the United States, 1900-1945. Patrick (Ph.D., Molecular, Cellular and Marine Biology, 2013) was the recipient of the Lancaster award for the best dissertation in the field of Biological and Life Sciences for his brain research.

Roxanna Van Norman's message is clear: She's a Gaucho forever. Credit: Patricia MarroquinThe ceremony included beautiful renditions of the National Anthem and the University Song by Keith Colclough, D.M.A. in Music.

In closing her address, Dean Genetti challenged the graduates. “You leave this institution with remarkable skills: of reasoning, discernment, ethics, communication, collaboration, research, and leadership,” she said. “Keep in touch with the campus. Stay involved. We wish you the best of luck and great success in all that life offers you.”

You may view an album of photos, Graduate Division Commencement 2015, on the GradPost Facebook page.


Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Credit: Patricia Marroquin


Tips for Happy Hooding: How to Manage Your Doctoral Regalia at 2015 UCSB Commencement

Doctoral candidates are hooded at the UC Santa Barbara Graduate Division's 2014 Commencement ceremony. Credits: Mike Eliason, Patricia Marroquin

Of the 423 students participating in this Sunday’s Graduate Division Commencement ceremony, nearly half (210, to be exact) will have the privilege of wearing the “odd garment” known as the doctoral hood.

To avoid a hooding horror story, the UC Santa Barbara Graduate Division has produced a how-to video narrated by Dean Carol Genetti. In the video below, you’ll learn such things as how to hold the hood, how to avoid having your cap fly off your head, the importance of the button and loop, and the proper way to adjust and wear the hood.

The demonstration also includes new procedures this year for entering and exiting the stage.

Full step-by-step details on doctoral hooding may be found on the Graduate Division’s Commencement Information for Students page under “Doctoral Hooding.”

Congratulations to all of our master’s, doctoral, and certificate graduates!


The Graduate Division’s June 14 Commencement ceremony begins at 4 p.m. on the Faculty Club Green. For those unable to attend, the ceremony will be live-streamed at the UCSB Commencement Live Webcast 2015 page. More information about Commencement may be found on the Graduate Division’s Commencement page. Also, you may read the Office of Public Affairs and Communications’ article “Here Comes Commencement” for a roundup of all the Commencement ceremonies. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #UCSB2015 on your social media photos and other posts to be featured on the Webcast page.


UCSB Graduate Division Assistant Dean Christian Villasenor Wins Getman Service to Students Award

Graduate Division Assistant Dean Christian Villasenor accepts the Margaret T. Getman Service to Students Award. The recipients and the audience shared a lighthearted moment when it was mentioned that Villasenor's mother-in-law was in the crowd. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

With an enthusiastic cheering section that included Graduate Division staff members, his wife – and even his mother-in-law – looking on, Assistant Dean Christian Villasenor was presented with the 2014-15 Margaret T. Getman Service to Students Award on Thursday morning at the Student Affairs divisional meeting in Corwin Pavilion.

Mary Jacob, Acting Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, and Willie Brown, Executive Director of Housing and Residential Services, present the Getman award to Graduate Division Assistant Dean Christian Villasenor. Credit: Patricia MarroquinVillasenor, a UCSB alum, was one of six staff and faculty members to receive the Getman, named for the former Dean of Student Residents and honoring those who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the general growth and development of students and to the quality of student life.

In presenting the award to Villasenor, Associate Dean Don Lubach told the audience that no matter who you are, whether the Dean of the Graduate Division or a friend of Villasenor’s young son, he treats everyone equally.

“You get the same Christian experience,” said Lubach. “It involves being listened to, it involves his dry wit. And when the experience is done and you’ve talked with Christian, your life is always a bit better than it was a few seconds before.”

Lubach wrote in his nomination letter: “Time and again, I have observed Christian improve the life of a struggling graduate student by making a referral, looking up something on the computer without delay, listening to a gripe, and offering words of authentic encouragement.”

Christian Villasenor and his wife, Briana Villasenor. Credit: Patricia MarroquinGraduate student Zach Rentz said Villasenor was both an advisor and a mentor to him during his year as president of the Graduate Students Association. “But I’m most lucky to call Christian my friend.”

Zach said Villasenor provided guidance through many of the difficult situations he faced over the past academic year.

In his nomination letter, Zach wrote: “Christian is the most committed person I know on this campus with regard to graduate student life. He is available 24/7 (and seemingly working such hours) and all geared towards the graduate students. He works on nearly all issues that we face, from housing and health care to funding to fellowships. Christian is also extremely sensitive to the needs of the minority, LGBTQ, and international graduate students, all students that have a more difficult time at UCSB than our more traditional students; and without his time and efforts, these students' experiences here would be materially poorer.” Zach added that not only is Villasenor “an excellent dean and administrator, but he is a genuinely caring and kind man.” 

Dean Carol Genetti wrote of Villasenor, who has been Assistant Dean in the Graduate Division since 2008: “Within the Graduate Division, he is the hub around which all graduate student support revolves (admissions, financial, academic, employment, professional development), and he is also our primary liaison to the broader network of support services for students on campus. … In each and every one of these tasks, Christian is entirely motivated by a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of students, and he is extremely effective in doing so.”

Jennifer Sheffield Bisheff of the Graduate Division, center, was among the Getman nominees, along with Kathleen Batchelder, left, and Catherine Boyer. Credit: Patricia MarroquinVillasenor told the GradPost that he is honored to have been selected for the Getman award. “I am dedicated to serving our students and being an advocate for graduate education at UCSB,” he said. “I appreciate the recognition for the work that I do on behalf of our students and the University. I also want to give credit to our outstanding leader, Graduate Dean Carol Genetti, and the fantastic Graduate Division staff who work so hard in support of our students and with whom I share this award.”

Other recipients of the 2014-15 Getman award are: Amit Ahuja, Political Science; Sharon Applegate, Sociology; Katya Armistead, Office of Student Life; Klint Jaramillo, Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity; and Katie Maynard, Geography. The winner of the William J. Villa Departmental Service to Students Award is Associated Students. Getman nominees included another member of the Graduate Division staff, Jennifer Sheffield Bisheff, Assistant Director, Fellowships.

For more information about the Getman and Villa awards, read the Office of Public Affairs and Communications news release, “In Service to Students.”

Recipients of the 2014-15 Margaret T. Getman Award are, from left, Christian Villasenor, Katie Maynard, Amit Ahuja, Sharon Applegate, Katya Armistead, and Klint Jaramillo. Credit: Patricia Marroquin


UCSB Ph.D. Students William Ryan and Stacy Copp Win Fiona Goodchild Award for Work as Mentors to Undergraduate Researchers

Two UC Santa Barbara Ph.D. students, energized by their experiences mentoring undergraduate researchers, have been rewarded with the Fiona Goodchild Award for Excellence as a Graduate Student Mentor of Undergraduate Research.

Stacy Copp of Physics and William Ryan of Psychological and Brain Sciences are recognized for distinguishing themselves through their excellence in, and contributions to, undergraduate research supervision; and for encouraging others to become involved in these research efforts. Candidates were nominated by an academic department or program, or by an organized research unit; and selections were made by the Academic Senate Committee on Undergraduate Student Affairs. Stacy and Will received certificates of recognition and $500 honorariums.

We interviewed Stacy and Will on topics related to their graduate education and their work as mentors. They shared that mentoring is much more than just teaching someone to do good work. It also entails advising, encouraging, and supporting the mentee in their future career endeavors. For Stacy and Will, mentoring undergraduate researchers is one of the most rewarding experiences of their graduate education. And they told us that the learning goes both ways; the undergrads have taught these graduate students as well.


On his own research:

William Ryan, a Ph.D. student in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department. Credit: Ryanne BeeI am a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the social psychology area of the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department. I am eclectic in my research interests, but broadly speaking am focused on various types of social threat, specifically in relation to non-normative or stigmatized identities. So far I have done work on homophobia, coming out as LGBTQ, attachment in polyamorous relationships, and the ways in which people think about the content of gender roles. I am particularly interested in the types of social support that allow individuals to integrate or come to terms with identities that are conflictual, stigmatized, or otherwise difficult in some way as well as the impact such integration has on psychological and physical health. I study these questions using a variety of methods, including self-report, structured interviews, implicit (reaction time) measures, and physiological measures (such as heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow). Research methods themselves are a big part of my work; a colleague and fellow grad student, Matt Cieslak, and I have recently published a paper on integrating blood flow measures (“impedance cardiography” is the technical term) with brain imaging measures (functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI). To make possible this integration, we developed a new software to score and analyze this data that is quickly being adopted by other researchers. 

On supervising undergraduate researchers:

My goal when working with students has been to help them gain confidence in their ideas and in their ability to contribute to intellectual discussions and empirical studies. Many of my students have gone on to pursue graduate degrees and others have landed jobs as lab managers and data analysts. A number of my students have especially flourished in this environment, ultimately conducting their own research projects on questions they developed within our lab setting.

I work with students in a lot of different capacities and through a variety of programs. Since starting at UCSB almost four years ago I have mentored over 30 undergraduate research assistants working in the Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior (ReCVEB; of which my advisor, Dr. Jim Blascovich, is the director). Working in the lab, students assist with running subjects through psychological studies. Because of the types of studies we conduct, students are trained in methods including virtual reality technology, cardiovascular measures (heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow), and brain imaging (fMRI). In addition to the regular work of running studies and coding data, I supervise many students doing independent projects. Three of my students have received Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) grants to fund their research and several others have received FRAP (Faculty Research Assistance Program) funding for their projects. I have also supervised eight students doing an independent study in fulfillment of their departmental lab requirement (190L). Each of these students completes their own project and writes it up as a full research paper. 

In 2012 I supervised four undergraduate students from the Computer Science department on their Capstone project. I assisted these students in applying their CS skills to developing an immersive virtual simulation of a “cyberball game,” a classic rejection paradigm used in social psychology. These students made a 3D model of Storke Tower and the surrounding courtyard and integrated the Kinekt with existing immersive virtual reality equipment to track motion in real time. That same year I also mentored an undergraduate from Jackson State University through the 2012 Summer Applied Biotechnologies Research Experience (SABRE) program hosted through UCSB’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnology (ICB). 

Currently I work with six research assistants, two of whom are doing independent projects. Suzanne Becker is conducting a study examining LGBTQ individuals’ coming out experience and the dimensions of religiosity that lead others to respond negatively. She received an URCA grant to fund this project. Alexis Isaac is working on a line of research examining the psychological factors that underlie the relation between support for stigmatized identities and well-being. Alexis will continue this line of work as she studies abroad in England next year working with Dr. Netta Weinstein, a former mentor of mine. 

On the rewards and challenges of mentoring:

Working with undergraduate students in the lab is by far the most intrinsically rewarding aspect of my graduate work. The challenges have been few and have mostly been in regard to managing my time and attention between projects. I've never been the most organized of people so scheduling everyone in an active lab has been a learning process for me. I truly enjoy working with students and gain a lot from these experiences. My students make me a better researcher and teacher; they expose me to new ideas and literatures, they keep me on my toes with their insightful questions. They are also very patient with me in explaining how to get to places on campus when I do leave the basement lab. I think most importantly, working with students reminds me of the excitement I felt when I first got into psychology. Grad school is long and hard and it's easy to lose sight of that spark. Seeing that excitement in students helps fuel my enthusiasm for the work I do. 

On what the award means to him:

I am very honored to have won this award. It's always nice to receive recognition, but what's really rewarding is all that I described above. 


On her own research:

Physics Ph.D. student Stacy Copp. Credit: David CoppI am a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Physics, and my research focuses on tiny fluorescent clusters of silver atoms that are encapsulated by DNA. I am studying how the sequence of DNA selects clusters of varying colors, and I am also using DNA as a tool to arrange these clusters on the nanoscale. Metal clusters are exciting because they exhibit properties that are characteristic of both molecules and metals, and their interactions are little-studied. We are hoping to explore these properties, with an eye toward applications in sensing, imaging, and optical materials. (Editor’s note: Stacy is one of four UCSB students selected to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting this summer in Germany.)

On supervising undergraduate researchers:

I have mentored 10 undergraduates in the Beth Gwinn lab at UCSB.  My primary role as a mentor is to guide undergraduates through the research process by developing projects that are interesting, relevant, and achievable for busy undergraduates, by teaching them necessary lab and data analysis skills, and by providing frequent feedback on their results. Three of my mentees have co-authored journal articles with me: Alexander Chiu, Mark Debord, and Kira Gardner. We are also in the process of preparing a manuscript for submission with a fourth undergraduate, Alexis Faris. However, being a mentor is more than just teaching someone to do good work in the lab – it is also about supporting that person’s future career. When I was an undergraduate, I was blessed with several wonderful graduate mentors whose support and encouragement helped me see my own potential. One of my mentors, Dr. Ben Kalafut, was especially instrumental in encouraging me to apply for scholarships and grad school. I owe much of my success to Ben’s selfless investment in my education and development as a researcher, and he inspired me to incorporate undergraduate mentorship into my own research as a graduate student. Thus, when I mentor undergraduates, I also focus on preparing them for whatever they want to do after graduation. This means that I start pestering my students about considering grad school, industry, or national lab jobs and taking the GRE’s when they are juniors, and I talk to my seniors about their future plans and help them edit grad school and job applications (if they want the help!).

Our lab is particularly committed to providing research opportunities for transfer students, who spend only two short years at UCSB and thus have less time to join and establish themselves in research groups. Half the students I have mentored have transferred to UCSB as juniors. I especially enjoy working with these students because they display incredible work ethics – with such a short time at UCSB before graduation, they still manage to adjust to a new environment, excel at upper-division coursework, and do great work in the lab. One of these transfer students, Kira Gardner, is now a graduate student at Stanford. Another, Mark Debord, is a successful researcher for the U.S. Navy, and Jacqueline Geler Kremer just received a prestigious fellowship from University of Texas at Austin, where she will pursue a Ph.D. in Physics. I find working with transfer students incredibly rewarding, and I plan to make this something I continue when I am a professor. 

Stacy Copp, top left, and other members of the Beth Gwinn Research Group. Credit: David Copp

In addition to guiding undergraduate researchers in my lab, I am also involved more broadly in recruiting undergraduate researchers and improving their opportunities to present their work. In my first year at UCSB, Professor Mark Sherwin invited me to talk to his Physics class about my experiences as an undergraduate researcher and about the importance of doing research as an undergraduate. I have given a number of similar presentations since then and have even recruited some of our own lab's undergraduates in this way. Many students just don't know about the opportunities that exist for them, so these types of presentations are crucial for informing students about their options. In addition to recruitment, I also organized the first UCSB Physics Symposium for Summer Undergraduate Research last year. This program provides undergraduate researchers an opportunity to give talks about their research findings to a general physics audience. As part of the program, I also teach the students how to give a scientific presentation, I provide assistance as they prepare, and I encourage them to consider graduate school. The UCSB Physics Department and the KITP graciously sponsored the event, and I plan to organize a second event this September. Keep an eye out for our event – we would love to have lots of people attend!

On the rewards and challenges of mentoring:

Stacy Copp, right, works with mentee Jacqueline Geler Kremer in the Beth Gwinn Group lab. Credit: Steven Swasey Mentoring undergraduates is one of my favorite parts of academic research because, despite the many challenges, it is so rewarding to see students develop as scientists. One challenge of supervising undergraduate research is adjusting to individual research and communication styles. This is something that is impossible to learn in graduate classes. I have supervised students who are very independent and prefer a hands-off mentorship style, as well as students who flourish with more guidance and encouragement. At first, finding a balance in my involvement that is right for a particular student was a real challenge, and I still find this one of the more difficult parts of undergraduate mentoring. Another challenge is choosing an appropriate project. The ideal project captures and retains interest, is at an appropriate skill level, and is highly relevant to our group’s research so that the student can contribute to publications. It is often incredibly challenging to satisfy all three conditions. I am grateful that my advisor, Professor Elisabeth Gwinn, has given me many opportunities to brainstorm projects for our undergraduates over the last few years. Her careful guidance and correction have helped hone my project-choosing skills. Finally, there is the challenge of having enough time to juggle your own projects with your students' projects. This is something that I still need to learn to do better!

The rewards of mentoring undergraduates far outweigh the challenges. As people who are new to research, many undergraduates have an excitement that is contagious. Seeing one of my students get excited about their results makes me more excited about my own work. It is also extremely rewarding to see my mentees succeed after graduation. This year we have three undergraduates who are graduating and going on to grad school and industry: Alexander Chiu, Alexis Faris, and Jacqueline Geler Kremer. I am so very proud of how they have developed as researchers and as people in the last few years! In addition, working with undergraduates has been incredibly beneficial for my research because they bring a fresh perspective and an incredible creativity to the topics that our lab studies. For example, one of our talented undergraduates who graduated in 2013 came up with the idea of using machine learning algorithms to understand patterns in large data sets that I had generated. It turned out that Mark Debord's idea was a great one, and we have since won an NSF grant to continue this research and have published two papers on our results. Without Mark's unconventional idea, we might never have made such progress on that topic.

I have learned just as much from my undergraduate mentees as I hope they have learned from me. The opportunities I have had to supervise undergraduate research in our lab have taught me skills that will be crucial when I have my own research group someday. These are skills that you cannot learn in the classroom, so I am very grateful to my advisor for the many chances I have had to develop as a research supervisor. I have also gained a much deeper appreciation for the graduate students, professors, and research scientists who have mentored me in the past. It is not always easy to be a mentor!

On what the award means to her:

I am very honored and humbled to be selected for the Fiona Goodchild award because the credit really goes to all the wonderful undergraduates who have worked with me for the past four years. Their hard work, creativity, and excitement have impacted my own research and career goals in incredible ways, and I know they will go on to do great things in the future. I am also humbled to have been chosen for this award because many of my fellow graduate students at UCSB are incredible mentors to undergraduates and have taught me how to be a better mentor. No person is an island, and I owe a great debt of gratitude to many past research mentors, both PI’s and graduate students, whose own investments in my research have inspired me to give back to the next generation of researchers.


Congratulations to Will and Stacy!

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