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The Top 15 GradPost Stories of 2015 

Each year, the GradPost reports on various lists and rankings for UC Santa Barbara. For example, there's the Leiden ranking (UCSB is No. 7 in the world this year); U.S. News & World Report's "Top 30 Public National Universities" (UCSB is No. 8); and Washington Monthly's list of "Top 100 National Universities" (UCSB is at No. 14). Now it's that time of the year again for the GradPost to present its list – of the Top 15 GradPost Stories of 2015.  

We examined the analytics for the GradPost from January 1 to December 15, 2015, to find out what clicked with our readers. Once again, such articles as graduate student profiles; student awards and achievements; the Grad Slam; and yes, those prestigious annual rankings reports, topped our list. Below are the GradPost’s Top 15 most-read stories originally published in 2015, followed by a list of five more noteworthy articles that just missed the list. (If you’re curious about past years, read our 2014 list and our 2013 list.)

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


Top 15 GradPost Stories Originally Published in 2015

1. 4 UCSB Students Chosen to Attend Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting This Summer in Germany, March 10
Four UCSB Ph.D. students are among more than 670 young scientists from 88 countries selected to participate in the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting on the picturesque island of Lindau in Germany, where they will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with 70 Nobel Laureates. The four – Stacy Copp of Physics; Matthew Gebbie and Gregory Su of Materials; and Nikki Marinsek of Dynamical Neuroscience – were selected in a highly competitive process. UCSB was 4-for-4 this year, with all of the university’s nominees named participants for the 2015 meeting. The GradPost interviewed the winners.

From left, UCSB Ph.D. students Stacy Copp, Nikki Marinsek, Matthew Gebbie, and Gregory Su.2. Making It Work: UCSB Graduate Student Parents in the Spotlight, January 12
The GradPost interviewed four graduate students to ask them about the challenges, rewards, resources, and life as a parent in graduate school. The students interviewed are Natalie O’Connor Holdren, a Ph.D. student in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education; Federico (Fede) Llach, a Ph.D. student in Music Composition; Phillip (Phill) Rogers, a Ph.D. student in Linguistics; and Derek Smith, a Ph.D. student in Mathematics.

Clockwise from top left: Derek’s daughter Myla running along Goleta Beach; Natalie helping daughter Liv feed giraffes at the Santa Barbara Zoo; Fede with Gaby and Carmen in their family student housing garden plot; Phill’s children Rosie and Isaac hanging out at a park

3. Getting to Know You: Introducing Our 2015 Incoming Graduate Student Cohort, September 21
In the fall, UCSB welcomed 841 new graduate students. The GradPost presented statistics about this new cohort, such as state and country of origin; ages of the oldest and youngest graduate students; and most popular disciplines. We asked some of our new grad students to tell us more about themselves, including what degrees they will be pursuing, favorite things to do, and what they are most looking forward to doing in graduate school. The eight new UCSB graduate students interviewed are: Amanda Kaczmarek (Psychological and Brain Sciences); Jenny Selvidge (Materials); Luke Rosedahl (Dynamical Neuroscience); Michelle Grue (Education); Petra Peršolja (Piano Performance); Rick Thomas (Environmental Science and Management); Shriniwas Patwardhan (Electrical and Computer Engineering); and Tara Clark (Education).

4. Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Sara Sutherland Discusses Madagascar, Motherhood, and Motivation, March 23
The Ph.D. student in Economics shares how studying in Madagascar fueled her fascination with conservation; why a boy named Jack motivates her; how she avoided a near disaster on a camping adventure in The Everglades; and more.

5. Mark Your Calendars With Events from the Graduate Division’s 2015-2016 Programming Preview, September 24
The GradPost offers a preview of the year’s programming by the Graduate Division. It’s packed with valuable, informational, and fun workshops, conferences, seminars, and other events. The programming includes workshops on grant writing, resume/CV writing, presentation skills, and funding; the Beyond Academia conference; and the Graduate Student Showcase and Grad Slam events.

6. Grad Slam Final Round for UCSB: The Right to Represent,
April 20
After eight preliminary rounds and three semifinal rounds, it came down to this: UC Santa Barbara’s Finals round. Ten finalists competed, and the judges selected UCSB’s Champion (Daniel Hieber of Linguistics) and two runners-up (Abel Gustafson of Communication and Jessica Perkins of the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management). We offer a recap.

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

7. UCSB Ph.D. Students William Ryan and Stacy Copp Win Fiona Goodchild Award for Work as Mentors to Undergraduate Researchers, June 3
Stacy Copp of Physics and William Ryan of Psychological and Brain Sciences are announced as the winners of the Fiona Goodchild Award for Excellence as a Graduate Student Mentor of Undergraduate Research. The GradPost interviewed Stacy and Will on topics related to their graduate education and their work as mentors.

8. Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Selvi Ersoy Pursues Science ‘Theatrically,’ April 27
The multitalented Microbiology Ph.D. student and Grad Slam finalist discusses such topics as women in science; what it was like to compete in the Grad Slam; being an award-winning Teaching Assistant; and how her dancing, singing, and musical theater background helps her in her graduate education.

Abel competing at the AVP Manhattan Beach Open. Credit: Ed Chan9. Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Abel Gustafson on Playing Like a Champion, May 24
The Communication graduate student placed runner-up in the 2015 Grad Slam for his three-minute talk on how Wikipedia can be used to help predict election outcomes. In this Spotlight, he discusses what graduate life has been like for him; his research on social behavior and influence; and his involvement in a pro beach volleyball tour, among other issues.

10. Fellowship and Grant Money: What’s Taxable? January 14
Kyle Crocco offers some valuable resources and tax tips for students regarding tuition, fellowships, and grants.

11. UC Santa Barbara Ranked No. 7 in the World in Leiden Ranking of Impact in the Sciences, May 22
In Leiden University’s annual rankings of the 750 best major universities in the world in terms of impact in the sciences, UCSB was listed at No. 7, rising one spot from last year. The GradPost interviewed a few graduate students to get their reactions to this prestigious honor.

Karly Miller at Big Sur. Photo courtesy of Karly Miller12. Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Karly Miller, Fulbright Scholar, Shows the Power of Listening, May 8
The Marine Science Ph.D. student, water scuba instructor, and Fulbright Scholar talks about her lifelong passion for the ocean and her research and experiences in such places as Ecuador, New Zealand, and Peru.

13. 4 UCSB Graduate Students Win 2014-2015 Academic Senate Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards,
April 24
The recipients of the Academic Senate’s Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards – Mario Galicia Jr. (Education), Keith Avery (Computer Science), Selvi Ersoy (Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology), and Jeremy Chow (English) – talk about what the award means to them.

14. Ph.D. Candidate Mario Galicia Jr.: Coming ‘Full Circle’ as UCSB Graduate Division’s 2015 Commencement Student Speaker, May 28
The Graduate Division’s 2015 Commencement student speaker discusses why UCSB is such a special place for him; gives thanks to those who have influenced him along the way; and offers a preview of his Commencement message.

15. UCSB Graduate Division Debuts Graduate Education Magazine, May 29
The Graduate Division’s inaugural Graduate Education magazine showcases the “spirited and creative thinkers” who make up UC Santa Barbara’s graduate student body. The issue contains nearly a dozen articles on current graduate students, accomplished alums, exceptional programs, and one very special donor, philanthropist Michael Towbes.


5 More Stories That Just Missed the Top 15 List

16. Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Levi Maaia and the 'Maker' Culture, July 29

Credit: Patricia Marroquin17. UCSB Grad Students React to Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: One Big Step, but More Work to Do, June 26

18. UCSB Is Ranked No. 8 on List of Top 50 Best Value Graduate Engineering Programs of 2016, October 9

19. Workshop on Interviews and Negotiating a Job Offer, January 7 (Note: The recap of this event may be read here:

20. UCSB Climbs to No. 8 on U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 List of ‘Top 30 Public National Universities,’ September 9


The GradPost’s Top 14 Stories of 2014

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

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

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




Top 14 GradPost Stories Originally Published in 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Melissa Barthelemy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Infographic by Shawn Warner-Garcia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


6 More Stories That Just Missed the Top 14 List

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

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

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

18. Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Jonathan Jones

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

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

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