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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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Graduate Division Seeks Diversity and Outreach Peer for 2014-15 

The UCSB Graduate Division is currently accepting applications for its Diversity and Outreach Graduate Peer Advisor position for the 2014-15 academic year. This position may be extended.

The Diversity and Outreach Peer Advisor assists in the development and implementation of various outreach and recruitment program events which are designed to cultivate a highly qualified and diverse pool of graduate school applicants. The Diversity and Outreach Peer Advisor also assists in fostering and maintaining an environment at UCSB that values and supports diversity. Specific responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Provide advice and assistance to current and prospective graduate students.
  • Manage prospective individual student and university program visits (i.e. McNair Scholars Program)
  • Give department specific presentations on UCSB resources.
  • Provide administrative support and student mentoring for The California Forum for Diversity in Graduate Education (Hosted by UCSB, Fall 2015), and Graduate Division sponsored summer undergraduate research programs: the Academic Research Consortium, CSU Sally Casanova program, and UC LEADS.
  • Facilitate graduate school preparation workshops for undergraduates interested in pursuing graduate study at UCSB.
  • Compile surveys, data, and program information.
  • Contribute articles and announcements to the Graduate Post on diversity and outreach related themes, as well as more general topics related to graduate education.
  • Develop programming for current graduate students that promotes and supports diversity.
  • Assist with campus-wide events and programming, including the Graduate Student Showcase and New Student Orientation.

The Diversity and Outreach Peer Advisor also holds drop-in office hours at the Graduate Student Resource Center (GSRC) and works collaboratively with other peer advisors on workshops and events sponsored through the GSRC. The Peer Advisor responds to student requests for information or assistance and makes referrals as needed.


PAYMENT: $16 per hour, plus fee payment equivalent to at least a 25% TA-ship

HOURS: 10 to 16 hours weekly (25%-40% appointment) during the academic year

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, Nov. 14, 2014

Minimum qualifications:

  • Has completed at least one year of graduate study at UCSB, is in good academic standing, is within university time-to-degree standards, and meets all other standard student employment eligibility requirements.
  • Is energetic, demonstrates organizational abilities, knowledgeable about the UCSB campus, and has good communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Can represent graduate student interests and concerns, and is attentive to the goals of excellence and diversity in UCSB’s graduate education.
  • Knowledge of and interest in social media as a service to the graduate student population.

Previous experience in advising, Microsoft Excel software, and workshop or conference planning is preferred, although training will be provided.

Additional Benefits: With the appropriate eligibility and approval, position(s) may be combined with a GSR or TA position, as long as the combined hours do not exceed a 75% appointment. Graduate Division will pay partial fees and graduate student health insurance equivalent to those provided for TAs if other student academic appointments or awards do not provide these fees.

Application Process: Interested applicants should submit a cover letter indicating interests and highlighting related experiences, along with a formal resume via email to Walter Boggan ( in the Graduate Division.


Coming Soon to The GradPost: 'The Doctor Is In' Advice Column

Source image credit: statue-of-libertyThe GradPost has written extensively about the importance of mentoring relationships in graduate school. Indeed, over the last decade or so, it has become something of a buzzword in many other higher education venues as well. 

In an effort to support and expand mentoring at UCSB, we are launching a new recurring column on The GradPost called "The Doctor Is In." Several times each quarter, a panel of UCSB faculty members across a variety of disciplines will answer graduate students' questions about topics such as research, work-life balance, careers in academia, and much more.

We are very excited about this new column, and we invite graduate students to submit their questions via Shawn Warner-Garcia, Graduate Division’s Professional Development Peer Advisor.


Warren Buffett Business Partner Charles Munger Donates $65 Million for KITP Facility, Largest Single Gift in UCSB History

The three-story, 61-bed KITP Residence is expected to take two years to build. Credit: Courtesy of Murray Duncan Architects

Charles Munger has called physics “vitally important” with “collateral benefits” for all. The longtime business partner of Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway considers it so important that he has Charles Munger. Credit: AP Imagesdonated $65 million to fund a new visitor housing facility for the UCSB-based Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). The donation to assist the world-renowned institute is the largest single gift in UC Santa Barbara’s history.

The Towbes Group Inc. will start construction of the KITP Residence this month, and the project is expected to take two years. The three-story, 61-bed facility will provide housing for visitors to the institute, which attracts scientists from around the globe who stay for weeks at a time.

In a UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications (OPAC) news release, Chancellor Henry T. Yang said: “The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics has been hosting thousands of the world’s top scientists since 1979. It is being emulated by numerous universities and is the envy of the physics community all over the world. We are absolutely thrilled and honored that through Charlie’s vision, unbelievable generosity, his love of physics, and his unique architectural and engineering genius and passion, we have been gifted such an unimaginable guesthouse for the visitors of KITP to enjoy and to enable them to continue their groundbreaking research at the endless frontier of physics.”

Theoretical astrophysicist Lars Bildsten, director of KITP and Gluck Professor of TheoreticalKITP Director Lars Bildsten Physics at UCSB, says the new facility will likely increase important scientific work. “KITP’s mission is to bring together the world’s leading scientists to collaborate on the most challenging and exciting questions in theoretical physics and related fields,” he said in the OPAC release. “Our visitors now spend their day in Kohn Hall, the center of interactions, but once the Residence is complete they will continue those interactions into the nights and weekends. I’m confident we will see an increased number of collaborations and scientific progress.”

Munger, 90, has frequently made large donations to schools, including Stanford University, Harvard-Westlake School in the Los Angeles area, and his alma mater, the University of Michigan. One of his grandsons is an alumnus of UCSB.

“Physics has enormously helped me in life — the logic and power of it,” Munger said in the OPAC news release. “Once you see what a combination of calculus and Newton’s laws will do and the things you can work out, you get an awesome appreciation for the power of getting things in science right. It has collateral benefits for people. And I don’t think you get a feeling for the power of science – not with the same strength – anywhere else than you do in physics.”

For more information, read the OPAC news release and a New York Times news article.


Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Eva Wheeler Follows Her 'New Plan for Happily Ever After'

Eva Wheeler is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her dissertation research centers on racial terms in the Dominican Republic. At right, she takes a break from her studies by ziplining in the Dominican Republic in February 2014.

Eva Wheeler is a woman of many passions and pursuits. In 2010, she left a career as a commercial litigation lawyer to return to graduate school and study Iberian Linguistics at UCSB. Now, as a 5th-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, she is following "a new plan for happily ever after" and hopes to complete her dissertation by Spring 2015.

Eva earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Professional Writing from Oakwood University, as well as a Juris Doctor law degree from New York University. She has lived all over the United States – including California, Texas, North Carolina, and Alabama – and has traveled all over the world to locales in Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean. She also speaks six languages with various levels of fluency.

Oh, and did we mention that she can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 1 minute and 8 seconds? Read on to find out more about the fascinating life of Eva Wheeler.

Tell us a little about your research and how you came to choose the topic.

My dissertation research focuses on the physical and social meaning of terms used to describe race and skin color in the Dominican Republic. I chose this topic because I had experience with the Dominican Republic; I wanted to understand more about the way that race was perceived and described; and the answer to my questions was missing from the academic literature on the topic.

What has graduate student life been like for you?

Life as a graduate student has been fantastic! There have certainly been stressful moments (my M.A. exam and dissertation proposal defense come to mind), but I have really enjoyed the ride. I have matured as a scholar and a person, and I have had the opportunity to travel to places like Spain and the Basque Country, India, and the Dominican Republic. The time has flown by!

Eva visited the Eiffel Tower after studying in the Basque Country in August 2012.

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

That’s a hard one. I would say that I wish I had known how to handle constructive criticism of my writing, research, etc. At the beginning, I couldn’t separate my writing from myself. Now, I edit my own writing with a much more critical eye, and the feedback I have received from classmates and professors has helped me to become a better writer.

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

I like the feeling of accomplishment that comes from rising to a challenge. When I meet a deadline that seemed impossible or finish a big project, I feel major endorphins. I am proud of making my dissertation project a reality. It started as an idea, and it has been so rewarding to see that idea become a project, and that project become a dissertation (well, almost … June 2015!).

I also love being encouraged to explore new ideas. I am less thrilled about occasionally becoming a recluse. 

Who are your heroes and/or mentors and why?

This seems a bit cliché, but my mother is one of the most phenomenal people that I have ever met. This is true for many reasons, but I will just say that she is the one that taught me to dream big dreams. I have also had quite a few academic and professional mentors. Mentorship is a powerful thing. It is incredible to be surrounded by people who are genuinely invested in my success.

What do you do to relax? Any hobbies, collections, pastimes, favorite places to go, favorite things to do?

I love to travel and see new places. I also work out, watch interesting series on Netflix, eat things that are delicious, and work on my Rubik’s Cube technique. I’ve dabbled in photography, and I would like to be able to get out and do karaoke way more often than I do.

What do you hope to be doing 5 or 10 years out of graduate school?

I hope to be teaching, researching interesting things, seeing interesting places, and loving what I do. I also hope to finish writing the novel I started while I was in the Dominican Republic, and I hope it becomes a best seller! 

Do you have any advice for current grad students?

Work hard. Do good work. Listen to wise counsel, and don’t lose yourself in this process.

Eva flying over the Taj Mahal on a conference visit to India in September 2013.


Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Education Ph.D. Student Priscilla Pereschica

Priscilla and her grandmotherWherever she is – in class, on the soccer field, or at work in UCSB's Judicial Affairs office – you can bet that Priscilla Pereschica will be working hard at whatever she's doing, and that she'll be doing it well. Priscilla is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, with an emphasis on Educational Leadership and Organizations (ELO). A 2009 graduate of Fresno State, Priscilla currently works in Judicial Affairs, where she helps students navigate the judicial process. She is also an avid soccer fan, and has experience with both indoor and outdoor soccer. 

Where did you grow up?

I’m from the Central San Joaquin Valley, which is a predominantly agricultural region. It is sadly considered to be the 10th least educated metro area in the country. My grandparents, Ismael and Maria Bugarin and Ursulo and Esther Pereschica, left Mexico and moved to the United States to pursue better opportunities for themselves and their children. They ultimately settled in the Central Valley and worked as farmworkers. I really respect their decision to leave their country, to leave their families, and to work in a labor-intensive job in the grueling heat for an opportunity to achieve prosperity.

I come from a large and close-knit family. I’m the oldest of four children. I have one sister, Erika, and two brothers, Martin and Ysaiah. Erika works with special needs children, Martin is fixing up a 1967 Mustang, and Ysaiah will be going to the Marines Corps boot camp soon. My parents, Frank and Sandra, were quite young when they got married and when I was born. My parents made many sacrifices to support me and my siblings and worked two jobs at times. Although they did not attend college, they understood the importance of a college degree and they emphasized its importance to us at an early age. My parents have always been hard workers and had the entrepreneur spirit. They built and owned their homes, my mom owned her own business, and my dad purchased a small ranch and farmed it in addition to his full-time job. They achieved the “middle class dream” through a lot of hard work.

Is there any particular event or events that had a big impact or influence on you and helped shape who you are today?Priscilla and parents at graduation

As the oldest, a lot of family responsibilities fell upon me, and I helped care for my siblings when my parents worked. My mom would lovingly call me their “second mom.” This responsibility continued into college, and I coordinated my school and work schedules around my siblings’ schedules. Aside from my family responsibilities, I worked on average 25 hours a week and was a commuter student. With a combination of all of those factors, I was unable to fully integrate into college or participate in extracurricular activities; however, I made sure to focus on my classes because I wanted to attend grad school. I believe that my experiences helped me develop into the woman that I am today. My parents have done so much to provide for me and my siblings, so I was willing to help.

What research projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on two research projects. The first is a qualitative project that was started by my former advisor. We interviewed graduate students about their knowledge and experiences of attending an Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). The second project is my own and it is quantitative. I’m examining survey data related to the academic integration experiences of Latino undergraduates at an Emerging HSI. I didn’t intend to do research within the HSI context, but I became very intrigued by the topic after getting involved in the first project. An HSI is an institution with a minimum of 25 percent enrollment of Latino undergraduates. Federal funding is available to these institutions and it may be spent on a variety of programs and projects. An Emerging HSI is an institution with a Latino undergraduate enrollment of 15 to 24 percent. UCSB is an Emerging HSI with a 24 percent enrollment of Latino undergraduates. I’m looking forward to UCSB’s transition into an HSI because I think it will be a momentous event in regard to Latinos' access to a research-intensive university. It’s exciting to do this research at the same time that UCSB is making this transition. I hope that there is a commitment to serving the students by ensuring that they are graduating and are encouraged to pursue opportunities beyond their bachelor’s degrees.

Priscilla with her siblingsWhat has graduate student life been like for you?

I’ve enjoyed graduate school and have been involved on campus in multiple ways. I work in the Office of Judicial Affairs as a graduate student assistant and conduct officer. In my role, I help students navigate the university judicial process, investigate reports of student-involved academic and behavioral misconduct, and uphold the university’s policies and regulations. My boss, Stephan Franklin, has been very supportive of my professional development. I have received training on stalking, sexual assault, and restorative justice. I also serve as a hearing officer for Housing and Residential Life and have worked on an interdepartmental anti-couch burning campaign for the past two years. Our campaign has been successful and we have seen a decrease in the number of couch burnings in Isla Vista. I am proud to have co-coordinated a women’s self-defense training during the spring quarter and plan to coordinate a few more for this school year.

I am also one of the founding members of the UCSB Higher Education Action and Research Consortium (HEARC). HEARC was created by and is led by graduate students. Part of its purpose is to advance the dialogue and research of postsecondary issues. We meet several times during the quarter and invite faculty members, administrators, and researchers to discuss their research and work. We also provide professional development workshops for students. If you’re interested in attending one of our meetings or would like more information, please contact us at or visit our Facebook page.

I am also a board member of LUNA (Latino/a UCSB Network Association). LUNA is newly established and it was created to promote the professional development of and the retention of UCSB Latino/a faculty and staff. I’m excited to be a member of this group and look forward to creating a stronger and more visible community. Access our Facebook page for more information about upcoming events and workshops.

Finally, I am also a member of several other UCSB groups: Professional Women’s Association, SRB Governance Board, and Security Camera Policy Committee. Graduate life has been busy both academically and professionally but I enjoy it. I have a great advisor, Professor Richard Duran, who has provided me with a lot of support and opportunities.

What has been a source of motivation or drive for you in your graduate studies?Priscilla with family

I have personal and professional motivations, but my personal motivations drive me the most. I am motivated to succeed for my family. I am grateful for the sacrifices and opportunities that my grandparents and parents have given me, and I want to give back to them. My siblings, boyfriend Steven, and extended family are also very supportive and encouraging so they also add to my motivation. Additionally, my hard work and sacrifices will benefit my future family. Overall, I feel that my success and degrees are beyond me. When I achieve, they achieve. My degrees are their degrees.

Lastly, I am excited that my research will contribute to the growing research on HSIs and how they can better serve their students. I look forward to the professional opportunities that my degree and work will provide me.

Who are your heroes/mentors?

My heroes are my parents and grandparents. I value their faith, strong work ethic, perseverance, sacrifices, and love and commitment to their families. I admire how they live for others and not for themselves. They inspire me to embody these qualities and make me proud to be their daughter and granddaughter.

I consider Dr. David Schecter, who was my political science professor from Fresno State, to be my mentor. I’m very grateful for his help, wisdom, guidance, kindness, and support throughout the years. During my senior year at Fresno State, he helped me secure an internship in Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s office, which turned into a staff position. He also helped me navigate the graduate school application process and wrote me several recommendation letters. He has really helped me at critical points in my life and I’m thankful to have him as part of my support system.

Name an accomplishment you are most proud of and why.

Overall, I’m proud of myself. I think I’m doing quite well considering that I’m a first-generation college student and from a small, agricultural, and undereducated area. I feel very blessed for the opportunities that have been bestowed upon me.


Credit: OAR PhotographyWhat do you do to relax?

I’m a firm believer in work-life balance, although I struggle to maintain that balance at times. Sometimes the grad student life makes it difficult to do but I think it’s important to strive for it. Some of the things that I like to do to relax are watch movies, hike, and go to the beach. I’m surprised by the number of people I’ve met who live here and don’t go to the beach. Take advantage of its tranquility. I also enjoy a night of dancing and having a drink or two. Even though I love spending time with others, I also value my alone time. I find peace and relaxation through solitude.

What is one thing (or more than one thing) that people would be surprised to know about you?

I played soccer for 13 years consecutively, was captain of my high school varsity team, and played five seasons of indoor soccer after I graduated from college. Two of my indoor teams won the championship, and one of the championships was won in a penalty shootout! I played in an outdoor league this past summer and sprained my ankle. I plan to resume playing once it’s healed. Outdoor soccer and indoor soccer are uniquely different, but both are incredibly fun.

I’ve been taking self-defense classes this past year through the UCSB R.A.D. program (Rape Aggression Defense Program) and Santa Barbara Krav Maga. I find it empowering to learn how to defend myself and exhilarating to strike the pads. I’m proud to admit that I can deliver a good, strong kick, which I attribute to playing soccer for so many years. I highly recommend that women take a self-defense course. It’s important to train your body and mind in the event that these skills have to be used. I hope that doesn’t occur but it’s important to be prepared.

What do you hope to be doing 5 or 10 years out of graduate school?Priscilla and her boyfriend, Steve

I hope to have a job in public policy so I can continue working on higher education issues. I want to contribute to the success of underrepresented students by promoting access, retention, and opportunities to attend graduate school. As you can tell, family is very important to me so creating my own, large family will also be a focus of mine.

Do you have any advice for current grad students?

Grad school can be overwhelming and stressful because of the amount of work it requires, and it’s even more stressful if you have other commitments, so I recommend maintaining a support system of family and friends and establishing a proper work-life balance. My other takeaways are (1) don’t neglect your physical and mental health, (2) take advantage of your opportunities or create new ones, and (3) enjoy the experience. We live each day once so make the most of it. 


Peer Advisors' Office Hours for Fall 2014

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 Advisor, Shawn Warner-Garcia
Tuesday: 10 a.m. to noon, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. to noon, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Funding Peer, Kyle Crocco
Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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

Communications Peer, Melissa Rapp
Wednesday: 9:45 to 11:45 a.m.
Thursday: 1 to 5 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.


Survey Finds Strong Career Satisfaction and High Employment Rates Among UC Ph.D. Recipients

University of California Ph.D. alums report career success and strong satisfaction with the graduate school education that contributed to that success, according to results of a comprehensive survey of alumni from throughout the 10-campus UC system. Survey results from UC Santa Barbara’s doctoral alums mirror those findings. Overall, 87 percent to 91 percent of UCSB alumni respondents felt they were “well-prepared” or “prepared” for their careers after graduation.

The first-ever systemwide survey was conducted by the UC Office of the President in collaboration with alumni associations and UC campus graduate divisions, including the UCSB Graduate Division. About 7,200 alums responded out of 26,000 Ph.D. alums who earned their degrees over the past 40 years. There were 771 respondents to the UCSB survey.

Alumni across all employment sectors and disciplines of study reported stable careers in fields for which their degrees prepared them, UC results show. The unemployment rate among the responding Ph.D. alums is extremely low, with 99 percent of the alums employed at the time of the survey. Alums who recently earned their degrees reported similarly high levels of employment to those with many years in their careers.

UCSB alumni respondents indicated that they would or probably would choose the same degree field again, ranging from 83 percent in Arts and Humanities to 89 percent in Social Sciences. UC-wide results show that 93 percent of respondents would pursue a doctoral degree again.

“The UC Alumni Survey is a very strong endorsement of the significant value of doctoral education for the individuals receiving doctorates,” said Dr. Carol Genetti, Dean of the UCSB Graduate Division. “The UCSB data closely mirrored the UC-wide results in almost all respects: The great majority of students were well employed and stated that their UCSB programs prepared them for their chosen careers, that they were highly satisfied with their doctoral programs, and that they were likely to choose the same career again.”

UC alumni identified the top three most valuable elements of their UC doctoral education as: academic writing skills; the practice of research methods; and presentation of work at conferences. These findings held true whether the alum worked in academia or not. About 75 percent of respondents said the reputation of their campus and the major had helped them to land a career job.

Dean Genetti noted that one of the most striking differences in findings between UCSB and the UC system as a whole was that “UCSB alums report significantly greater levels of employment in tenure-track positions at four-year universities (58 percent at UCSB compared with 42 percent UC-wide), a fact that underlines the academic leadership of our campus.”

UC Provost Aimée Dorr said that “even as careers in academia have become more competitive, it’s satisfying to see that our doctoral students do well in the academic job market. They become the faculty who will shape the next generation of innovators and critical thinkers. It’s also clear that many who earn a Ph.D. from UC are bringing the knowledge and abilities they honed in graduate school to other sectors.”

On the issue of student debt, Dean Genetti said, “The data show that our students report more debt than students at other UCs, which is likely to be related to UCSB having lower levels of funding than other campuses historically.” 

Among other results of the UC-wide survey, more than half of engineering and computer science graduates have gone into the private, for-profit sector. UC alums working in private industry are concentrated in highly skilled fields. More than half are in the professional, scientific, or career services sectors, which includes the legal, financial, architectural, and engineering fields. An additional 11 percent are in manufacturing, and 9 percent are in health care.

Said Dean Genetti: “While the data show that the doctorate is a productive route to a professional career, it is also important to remember that research doctorates are more than career paths: Doctoral programs give students the opportunity for deep exploration of their chosen field. All doctoral students make a lasting contribution to human knowledge through the production of an original dissertation. It is breathtaking to think of the tremendous wealth of information embodied in UC doctoral dissertations in all fields of study, and the significant impact their combined discoveries have had on our state, nation, and world.”

For more information, read the UC Office of the President news release.


New Students of Color Welcome Reception, October 28

To continue to create community and foster the development of students of diverse backgrounds, the Graduate Division will host a reception specifically to celebrate graduate students of color on our campus:

Tuesday, October 28

4 to 6 p.m.

Loma Pelona Center

Welcoming remarks will be given by Graduate Dean Carol Genetti and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young. In addition to welcoming students, the reception will offer an opportunity to meet each other and learn about the various graduate student interest groups on our campus. This event is co-sponsored by the Office of Equal Opportunity & Sexual Harassment/Title IX Compliance.

The New Students of Color Welcome Reception is free and open to all graduate students. To RSVP, please complete the form below.

If you have any questions about this reception, please contact Robert Hamm, Coordinator, Graduate Student Professional Development.



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

Shuji Nakamura, winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in efficient blue light-emitting diodes, takes questions from the audience at a news conference at UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Materials and Electrical & Computer Engineering Professor Shuji Nakamura has been a shining light for graduate students at UC Santa Barbara for years. So grad students were understandably proud when they learned the news Tuesday that Dr. Nakamura, along with two Japanese scientists, had won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics for inventing efficient blue light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. We asked a few grad students to tell us how they feel about Professor Nakamura’s honor. Here’s what they had to say:


Leah KuritzkyLeah Kuritzky

The Materials Ph.D. student was a finalist in the 2014 Grad Slam for her talk on laser lighting applications and a participant at the 63rd annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, in 2013. She said: “We are all so proud of Professor Nakamura. The impact of his contributions continues to grow as solid state lighting is adopted even more widely. The Nobel Prize is well-deserved for the magnitude of his achievements and how they've transformed lighting.”

Humberto Foronda

Humberto ForondaThe third-year Materials Ph.D. student was “ecstatic” upon hearing the news. Said Foronda about Dr. Nakamura: “His achievements are literally life-changing. Personally, it makes me very proud to be a member of this research group and to attend UCSB, working and studying at the Materials Department. Professor Nakamura’s presence and achievements are motivations to go to work every day and be the best that I can be. I truly believe this work will change the way the world sees lighting.”

David Hwang

David HwangThe second-year Materials Ph.D. student is working on developing a way to fabricate light-emitting diodes and integrate them on various substrates. David learned the news that Professor Nakamura had won the Nobel Prize on his way to the bus stop to go to campus. “I started yelling, ‘Shuji won the Nobel!’ It was really encouraging to see his hard work recognized and made me even more proud to be working on gallium nitride LEDs,” David said. “Professor Nakamura’s win is really motivational because he has a great story,” he said. “From being told ‘no’ many times in his early career to now, he has endured many obstacles and put a tremendous effort into realizing his dreams. His win shows that it is never too late to pursue your dreams and should be a lifelong venture. The award further substantiates that we are at the forefront of the field and that UCSB is a top-notch research institution.”

Peter Mage

Peter MageThe fourth-year Materials Ph.D. student and winner of the Graduate Division’s inaugural Grad Slam last year said his reaction to the news of Dr. Nakamura’s win “was a mix of surprise and excitement – it literally was the first thing I saw when I woke up today!” Peter says: “While I don't work directly in the field that Dr. Nakamura won his prize for, I'm thrilled for UCSB and the Materials Department. I'm no Swede, but I believe this award is well-deserved and is a great reflection of the quality of work performed in the College of Engineering here, both in terms of innovation and potential for worldwide impact. I'm excited that UCSB is being recognized for this high level of research, and hopefully this will help to draw even more top-tier students and faculty (and research funding) to the Engineering School at UCSB.”

Anisa Myzaferi

Anisa MyzaferiAnisa is a fourth-year graduate student at the Solid State Lighting & Energy Electronics Center, pursuing a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Upon hearing the news of Dr. Nakamura’s Nobel Prize, Anisa said, “My first reaction was joy, excitement, and pride to be working in the field of GaN optoelectronic devices. At the same time, I felt an immediate renewed motivation for my own research and commitment to successfully carry this field forward.” She called Professor Nakamura “a very humble scientist, even though he is so accomplished. This particular trait of his is a personal inspiration to me, regarding the type of scientist that I want to be. Professor Nakamura, together with the other professors who guide our research here at SSLEEC, trust and support us unconditionally as we conduct our Ph.D. research, so to see him win the Nobel makes me particularly happy and grateful. It is a most deserved accolade that highlights his effective scientific leadership.” Anisa said the reason he won the Nobel, his work in blue light-emitting diodes, “illustrates the importance of recognizing the need for energy-efficient devices and efficient management of current technologies. Bestowing the Nobel Prize in Physics on this particular achievement renews the motivation and concentration of the global community on the exigent topic of energy efficiency. It is an honor that UCSB and SSLEEC are at the forefront of contributing high impact results to this most humanitarian goal.” 

For more information about Dr. Shuji Nakamura’s Nobel Prize, read the Office of Public Affairs and Communications news release.

Dr. Shuji Nakamura displayed the blue light-emitting diode at the news conference. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

On Tuesday at a news conference at UCSB, officials toasted Shuji Nakamura for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics. Credit: Patricia Marroquin


New TAs Prepare for Their Students at Annual TA Orientation

New TAs gathered in Campbell Hall for Orientation. Credit: Patricia MarroquinIt’s a new school year at UC Santa Barbara, which brings with it many new students, both graduate and undergraduate. Many graduate students will be serving as Teaching Assistants across campus, some of them for the first time. To ease their transition to the front of the classroom, Instructional Development and the TA Development Program once again held their annual TA Orientation on Tuesday, September 30, at Campbell Hall. The orientation featured several speakers, including Chancellor Henry T. Yang, as well as a panel of experienced TAs. After the initial orientation, students were invited to participate in two rounds of workshop sessions with different topics of value to newly hired Teaching Assistants. 

The program kicked off with an introduction by Dr. Lisa Berry of Instructional Development. Dr. Berry told the students that the purpose of the orientation was to make them better prepared for teaching than they were at the start of the orientation. 

Chancellor Henry T. Yang spoke of the importance of humor in teaching. Credit: Patricia MarroquinShe then introduced Chancellor Yang, a recipient of 13 outstanding teaching awards throughout his career, who reminded the audience that they were now employed at one of the elite universities in the world, and that was, in part, because of the work that Teaching Assistants do in their classrooms each and every quarter. 

Chancellor Yang also gave students some tips for becoming a good teacher. He gave students some practical things to do, such as learning the names of their students, adding humor, trying tests before handing them out, and not lecturing to the blackboard. He also provided students with some concepts to keep in mind as they went about their teaching duties. He reminded them that lecturing is a dialogue, not a monologue; that students do not always know what questions they have, or even that they have them; and that students often mix emotional, social, and factual information when they are engaged in learning. He closed by asking students to help participate in the university’s attempts to change the culture of Isla Vista, a town still recovering from the horrific events of last spring.

Grad students grab some breakfast before heading off to breakout sessions. Credit: Patricia MarroquinChancellor Yang yielded the floor to several speakers who were focused on the legal responsibilities of TAs, beginning with Ko Kashiwazaki, the Assistant Director of Judicial Affairs. He reviewed issues of academic integrity, and discussed the role of the TA in maintaining the integrity of campus. He provided students with four tips for maintaining academic integrity in their courses: explain academic integrity clearly to students, be explicit in expectations, put those expectations in a syllabus, and save all documents and correspondence with students.

Carol Sauceda, the Senior Sexual Harassment Prevention and Diversity Education Analyst at UCSB, took the stage next. She informed students that, unbeknownst to them, their attractiveness level had increased since becoming a TA, and she outlined the university’s sexual harassment policy, complete with several examples.

Associate Dean of Students Angela Andrade and Dr. Jeanne Stanford, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, closed out the legal responsibilities segment with a discussion of the resources available on campus for distressed students, as well as available counseling services. They pointed out that “it’s really normal to go to therapy in California,” and encouraged students to go if they felt they needed to talk to someone. They also reviewed the Distressed Students Protocol. 

A panel of experienced graduate student TAs answered questions at the Orientation. They are, from left, Laura Hooton (History); John Kaminsky (Math); Maria Canto (Spanish & Portuguese); Emma McCullough (Music); and Emily Wilson (EEMB). Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Just before breaking out into individual workshop sessions, Dr. Berry brought a panel of experienced TAs on stage to answer any questions that new TAs might have. Laura Hooton, John Kaminsky, Emma McCullough, Maria Canto, and Emily Wilson shared their own experiences and beliefs about successful teaching. Building from the questions in the audience, they discussed knowing their students, learning students’ names, handling overloaded office hours, grading, and disrespectful students (not that we have any of those at UCSB!).

Dr. Berry brought the session to a close by presenting students with the many tools that Instructional Development offers Teaching Assistants on campus.

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