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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.

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