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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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Getting to Know You: Introducing Our 2015 Incoming Graduate Student Cohort

UC Santa Barbara welcomes 841 new graduate students into its ranks this week. Here, we break down the statistics on our incoming graduate student cohort and introduce you to several of our new students. All infographics created with Piktochart.

At UCSB, there are a variety of gender and sexual identities represented in our student population. From the current demographic data we have collected on the incoming graduate student class, 53 percent of students identified as men and 47 percent identified as women. Starting with the Fall 2017 admissions cycle, graduate applicants to UCSB will have the option to choose among six gender identities listed on admissions forms: male, female, trans male, trans female, gender queer/gender non-conforming and different identity. Additionally, all current UC students will be able to update their gender and sexual identity through the UCSB Registrar if they would like to.

Most of the incoming graduate students are between the ages of 23 and 30, but our youngest incoming student is 20 years old and our oldest is 66 years old.


Map creation by Patrick Hall; map template by Kevin Ross


Map template by GunnMap

Our new graduate students are coming from 44 different countries – from China to Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia to South Africa, Mexico to Morocco – representing nearly every continent. In fact, roughly one-third of incoming students (272, to be exact) are coming from places outside the country. Our U.S. students hail from 42 of the 50 states, but nearly half of them are California natives.

The most popular disciplines that our new graduate students chose were Environmental Science and Management (90 new students), the Teacher Education Program (88 new students), and Electrical and Computer Engineering (87 new students). By division, the most new graduate students are in Engineering (226), Mathematical, Life, and Physical Sciences (175), followed by Education (131) and Humanities and Fine Arts (124).

We asked several of our new grad students to tell us more about themselves, including what degrees they will be pursuing, their favorite things to do, and what they are looking forward to most about graduate school. Read on to find out what we learned. 

Amanda KaczmarekAMANDA KACZMAREK was born in Jacksonville, Florida, and has lived in various locations in Florida, Ohio, and New York. As Amanda put it, “I had what people tend to politely refer to as a ‘difficult’ childhood, which has made me a very independent and resilient person. I hear that can come in handy for grad school!” Amanda earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Ohio State University. At UCSB, she will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Her research interests focus on moral decision-making and morality as a social behavior.

A first-generation college student, Amanda said that she is looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with other social scientists and to pursue her own research. When she’s not working on research or working out, she likes to watch movies, play video games, read, and crochet. She also loves to tap into her artistic side as a beginner Scottish Highland dancer as well as her nerdy side through her love of Star Trek, Game of Thrones, and Marvel movies.

Jenny SelvidgeJENNY SELVIDGE grew up just outside of Boston. She was actually born in the Bay Area, so moving back to California feels like coming back to her roots. She said that she has always felt very connected to Boston and that the move out to California will be a big shift for her and her family – especially because she will have to drive or fly to see snow now! Jenny earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Materials Science and Engineering, and she will be continuing her studies here at UCSB pursuing a Ph.D. in Materials. Jenny said that she loves the broad applicability of her field, and she is looking forward to taking on the new challenge of studying optoelectronic materials, which are materials that interact with both electricity and light (such as lasers, LEDs, and solar cells).

Jenny said that she is really excited that her department and the university as a whole seem very committed to diversity. “As a woman in STEM, it can sometimes feel a little bit lonely, since there are many more men than women. But I knew the Materials Department here was for me when I came and the students in the Graduate Students for Diversity in Science group ran an event especially welcoming to women, people of color, and other groups of people historically underrepresented in STEM.”

In addition to joining a thriving community of scholars, Jenny is looking forward to exploring the indigenous trees of the different parts of the state. As she put it, “I think part of the reason that trees fascinate me so much is that they are so perfectly engineered by nature to fit their environment, just like the work I strive to do.”

Luke RosedahlGrowing up on a 21-acre farm in the middle of Minnesota, LUKE ROSEDAHL spent a lot of time outdoors, reading, and managing a small vegetable growing business. His dad was a firmware engineer for IBM and his mother was a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled Luke and his two brothers. Luke said he loved being homeschooled “because it allowed me to focus on what I liked doing.”

He comes to UCSB with a degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, and he will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Dynamical Neuroscience. For his research, he is interested in modeling the brain. He said he became interested in this area because he “always loved math, and the modeling/mathematical approaches towards neuroscience really seemed to be gaining momentum and opening a lot of new doors.”

Luke has quite a variety of interests and aspirations outside of his studies. In addition to his love of outdoor activities and enjoying good food and spirits, he said that people are often surprised to find out that he is a competitive ballroom dancer. In fact, he even travelled to Israel last spring for a West Coast Swing competition. The thing he’s most looking forward to in Santa Barbara? “Learning to surf! I have always wanted to surf, but growing up in Minnesota there wasn’t ever the opportunity!”

Michelle GrueMICHELLE GRUE’s dad was in the Air Force, so she moved around a lot as a kid – from California to Texas to England and then back to California. She spent her high school years in Santa Barbara County, so “in many ways, attending UCSB is like a homecoming for me.” She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from Pepperdine University and will pursue an M.A./Ph.D. combination in Education at UCSB. She said that she also plans to add emphases in Writing Studies and Black Studies, “as long as they don’t overly detract from also being a mom of an eight-month-old baby.”

Her research interests are focused on how universities can better leverage their existing infrastructure and technologies to more adequately aid students from minority backgrounds integrate into the academic world.

Michelle said that she is very excited about diving back into academia. “I know it’ll be a humbling experience, but I’m that nerd who loves hunting down resources, writing multiple drafts until it’s as right as I can make it, and sharpening my mind against the iron of my fellow students and of my professors. I have to admit, I’m also going to enjoy ‘me’ time away from my baby.”

In her free time, Michelle loves reading, traveling, and the occasional trip down the Netflix rabbit hole. She also said that she enjoys “hosting parties that inevitably wind down to a few good friends chatting about the problems of the universe or fun philosophical topics like how we view time, and Disney movies.”

Petra PeršoljaPETRA PERŠOLJA comes from the relatively young country of Slovenia. When she was six years old, she told her parents that she wanted to play the piano. “My mom is an economist, my father used to have a truck company, and my two little brothers are excellent in sports. To this day we don't know where I got the idea. ... Although my country is not economically very stable, and finding a job as a pianist there would be quite impossible, my parents always encouraged me to follow my dreams.”

Petra earned her first bachelor's degree in Education at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia and then pursued her second bachelor's degree in Piano Performance at Rowan University in New Jersey. She recently completed a master's degree in Music at the University of Hawaii and will be starting her Doctor of Musical Arts program at UCSB in Piano Performance.

During the time Petra spent at the University of Hawaii, she picked up surfing and hopes to be able to continue that hobby here in Santa Barbara. She enjoys nature, traveling to new places, and extreme sports such as skydiving and shark-cage diving. And would you believe that Petra is also on level 63 in Skyrim?

Rick ThomasRICK THOMAS grew up in Santa Clara, California, as the third of four children. His childhood was spent mostly playing soccer and reading. He said that he has loved the outdoors for as long as he can remember and has always known that he wanted to work in a facility that helps the planet in some way. Rick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities, both from UC San Diego. At UCSB, he will be pursuing a Master's in Environmental Science and Management. His research interests are broad, which is something that drew him to the Bren School, as it focuses heavily on interdisciplinary approaches.

Rick said that he is most looking forward to the natural surroundings that UCSB and Santa Barbara have to offer. “I think the combination of mountains and oceans is something special, and you definitely have to take advantage of it while you are here.” In addition to his love of the outdoors, Rick also enjoys music (he plays a left-handed violin!) and juggling and has written a few fantasy novels that he hopes to publish one day.

Shriniwas PatwardhanSHRINIWAS PATWARDHAN wants to become an engineer who creates technology to make human life better. Growing up in Pune, India, his parents encouraged him to be devoted to his studies but also committed to character development. He comes to UCSB with a Bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pune, and he will be pursuing a Master's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research will focus on Communications, Control and Signal Processing in the field of biomedical implants and prosthetic devices. “I have seen the effects of the high price of medical care in emerging countries like India. I want to make a change in this by contributing to the world of low-cost technology in the medical field.”

Shriniwas is looking forward to “the wonderful and open research environment and the beautiful campus. It should be a joy to work in a building situated right on the coast.” In his free time, he enjoys playing Indian classical music on the mandolin and also participating in theatre.

Tara ClarkTARA CLARK grew up in the Garlic Capital of the World – Gilroy, California. As Tara said, “I come from a very low-income, single-parent household where I faced the daily struggle of worrying about how we would put dinner on the table. ... In order to distract myself from fear and worry, I decided to focus all of my time on school instead of on the daily tribulations that I encountered.” These experiences helped her develop diligence and self-discipline, which enabled her to earn an Associate of Arts from Gavilan College upon graduating high school at an Early College Academy. Tara then completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at UCSB in just two years, majoring in Philosophy and Linguistics and minoring in Education.

As our youngest incoming graduate student at 20 years old, she will start as a Ph.D. student in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, where she hopes to “gain the essential knowledge and experiences in order to become a school leader who will effectuate necessary changes in the world of education through reform methods.”

Although Tara has lived in Santa Barbara for two years already, she said that there are still lots of places that she would like to explore. She enjoys meeting new people, being crafty, and staying active. According to Tara, “The number one thing that surprises people about me is my maturity despite my age. I am young in years, but old in resilience.”

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