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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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Entries in graduate student (176)

Tuesday
Feb162016

Registration Now Open for 2016 Grad Slam Competition

UCSB's Grad Slam competition is back, and it's better than ever! Here's what you need to know and how you can sign up to participate in this year's competition, scheduled for April 4-15.

What is the Grad Slam?

Launched in 2013, Grad Slam is an award-winning campus-wide competition for the best three-minute talk by a graduate student. Participants are judged on the basis of having a clear and effective presentation that is geared for a general university audience and has demonstrable intellectual significance.

Why should I compete?

For fortune and fame, of course! This year, we're giving away more than $15,000 in cash and prizes, including a Grand Prize of $5,000. Plus, the winner will get to compete in a UC-wide Grad Slam competition for the chance to win even more money!

I'm intrigued, but I need a snazzy video to entice me more.

Here you go!

I'm sold. Where do I sign up?

Glad you asked! Click here to fill out the registration form. The deadline to sign up is Friday, March 11. (Note: this is an extension of the original deadline of March 4.)

OK, I signed up. Now what?

We will be launching the 2016 Grad Slam page soon, but in the meantime you can check out previous years' competitions for more information. And be sure to stay tuned to The GradPost for more information on workshops, resources, and more to help you craft and refine your presentation. If you have questions, you can email Robert Hamm.

Tuesday
Jan052016

Peer Advisors' Office Hours for Winter 2016

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.

Writing Peer, Kyle Crocco
Mondays and Wednesdays: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10 a.m.-noon

Funding Peer, Stephanie Griffin
Mondays: 10 a.m.-noon
Wednesdays: noon-2 p.m.

Diversity Peer, Ana Romero

Mondays: noon-2 p.m.
Wednesdays: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

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.

Monday
Dec212015

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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/3/10/4-ucsb-phd-students-chosen-to-attend-lindau-nobel-laureate-m.html
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 12http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/1/12/making-it-work-ucsb-graduate-student-parents-in-the-spotligh.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/9/21/getting-to-know-you-introducing-our-2015-incoming-graduate-s.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/3/23/graduate-student-in-the-spotlight-sara-sutherland-discusses.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/events/2015/9/24/mark-your-calendar-with-events-from-the-graduate-divisions-2.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/4/20/grad-slam-2015-final-round-for-ucsb-the-right-to-represent.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/6/3/ucsb-phd-students-william-ryan-and-stacy-copp-win-fiona-good.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/4/27/graduate-student-in-the-spotlight-selvi-ersoy-pursues-scienc.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/5/24/graduate-student-in-the-spotlight-abel-gustafson-on-playing.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/funds/2015/1/14/fellowship-and-grant-money-whats-taxable.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/5/22/uc-santa-barbara-ranked-no-7-in-the-world-in-leiden-ranking.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/5/8/graduate-student-in-the-spotlight-karly-miller-fulbright-sch.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/4/24/4-ucsb-graduate-students-win-2014-2015-academic-senate-outst.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/5/28/phd-candidate-mario-galicia-jr-coming-full-circle-as-ucsb-gr.html
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
http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/headlines/2015/5/29/ucsb-graduate-division-debuts-graduate-education-magazine.html
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: http://gradpost.ucsb.edu/career/2015/1/23/event-recap-interviews-and-negotiating-a-job-offer.html)

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

Tuesday
Dec152015

Student Health Open and Available to Graduate Students During Winter Break

If you're staying in town for the holidays, you can still access many of the services at Student Health. See below for more details.

Hours and Services for Dec. 14-18 and 21-23

What is open: Student Health, Pharmacy, Laboratory, Radiology, Insurance Office, Dental Care Center, and Eye Care Center

When it's open: 8 a.m. - noon

More Details and Exceptions

  • Urgent Care: No appointments needed
  • Eye Care Center: Closed Dec. 23, call 805-893-3170 for appointments
  • Psychiatry and Social Work Counselors: Call 805-893-3087 for appointments
  • Alcohol/Drug Counselors: Call 805-893-5013 for appointments
  • Dental Care Urgent Needs: Monday, 12/14, to Thursday, 12/17, call 805-893-2891 for further information
  • Pharmacy: Mail-order service available, call 805-893-2116 for information
  • Student Health Administrative Offices: Open full days during break weeks; call 805-893-5339 for further information


All Student Health Services Closed from Dec. 24-Jan. 3

During the break, all students have access to the 24-hour Nurse Line at 800-539-1387 for any medical questions or concerns. Students with mental health questions or concerns may also call the 24-hour telephone service available through Counseling and Psychological Services at 805-893-4411.

When Student Health is closed, UCSB Students will need to utilize other local Urgent Care and Emergency Department services for medical problems that cannot wait until they reopen. Further information on these locations in Santa Barbara County can be found here.

Students with Gaucho Health Insurance (GHI) have benefits to cover emergency medical and pharmacy costs at outside facilities when Student Health is closed. No referrals are needed for gynecology or services more than 50 miles away. More information on GHI is available here, including how to print a temporary identification card.

Wednesday
Dec092015

From 'Broken' to 'New Beginning': Ph.D. Student Mario Galicia Reflects on His Beloved Tragedy-Stricken San Bernardino

Mario Galicia Jr. Credit: Patricia MarroquinExactly one week ago tragedy struck my hometown of San Bernardino. I wish to first send out my condolences to the families, loved ones, and all others affected by the recent disaster out of San Bernardino. Losing someone we know and love is never an easy thing. Having lost several family members and friends to various forms of gun violence, I am sensitive to what some of those grieving are going through.

I never thought that my experience with losing loved ones to gun violence would be relevant to my existence as a student at UC Santa Barbara, until we experienced our own mass shooting in Isla Vista in May 2014. At that time, I found myself consoling students in my classes – much as I had been consoled in my time of grief – by offering a space for these students to express their grief. As a university representative I also suggested additional resources available to help them through their process. Over the past year and a half I have tried to make peace with the fact that regardless of where my family and I choose to live in the U.S., we will more than likely have to deal with some type of gun violence affecting our community.

Last Wednesday while playing with my children, I couldn’t shake the thought of calling my mom. My mother and I speak regularly on the phone, and now that my children are old enough to communicate, they also get on the phone and chat with their "Nana" for a little while. So, as I strategized my day to figure out a good time to call mom, I began receiving text messages, emails, and social media alerts regarding a mass shooting that had occurred in my hometown of San Bernardino. My heart sank as my thoughts turned to the family members and friends who live in San Bernardino. I immediately called my mother but was unable to get through to her. I decided to try her back in a couple of minutes; I figured she might be on the line with someone else, checking in on her as well.

Mario Galicia Jr. in his senior year of high school in San Bernardino. Photo courtesy of Mario GaliciaSoon after, when various reports stated that the gunmen involved in the mass shooting were on the loose, my anxiety rose. I picked up my phone and kept dialing until I was finally able to get through to my mom. She explained to me that they were all OK. They were a little frightened, and confused, about what was going on, and why. My mother explained to me that all of the local government buildings and schools had been placed under "lockdown," including a school one of my nephews attends. I later spoke with him and he told me that nothing traumatic had occurred. Most people on campus, he said, were just following the news – online or through social media.

I’m relieved that my family is safe, but my heart still aches. It aches because as a human being, I can’t help but empathize with someone else who has experienced a loss of life. It seems that my whole life I have been dealing with death as well. Prior to moving to San Bernardino, my family and I lived in a southern section of the Rampart District in Los Angeles. All I can really remember about our neighborhood was the violence. I remember the violence, either associated with drugs, gangs, or police brutality. Matter of fact, one of the main reasons our family moved out of Los Angeles was due to this violence. As a result, I was raised in San Bernardino from the time I was in second grade.

Although once popularly known as the site of the first McDonald’s restaurant and where Taco Bell’s founder opened his first fast-food stand, in addition to being home to the Little League Western Regional tournament, San Bernardino today struggles to move past its 2012 bankruptcy. Its residents struggle to find hope, motivation, and inspiration – in anything – to help them get through the day.

Mario Galicia Jr. played in the Little League in San Bernardino in the 8th grade. Photo courtesy of Mario GaliciaOver the last 6 months, the Los Angeles Times has published three articles detailing some of these conditions: "Broken City," (June 14); "No Room at the Inn for Innocence," (July 22); and the latest, "San Bernardino: Broken" (November 6).

As someone who grew up in a working-class household, I understand the financial difficulties that many families face in San Bernardino today. Struggling to find where one might get their next meal, struggling to find stable housing, stable employment, stable relationships. Always struggling.

An important question still exists: "What is going to be done to help San Bernardino move forward?" San Bernardino, like many other working-class cities, needs help. San Bernardino needs other communities to open their hearts and offer their support (emotional and fiscal). We need to rally behind San Bernardino, use this tragedy to bring some much-needed national attention to other social issues that have long plagued the residents of this once-thriving Inland Empire community. The residents of San Bernardino need more investment toward creating, and sustaining, permanent employment opportunities for its residents. They also need better funding for their public schools and after-school programs. Children need to feel like their communities believe in them and their futures. Parents need to feel like they can provide for their children.

One way to show our youth that we believe in them is by investing in their futures. Many civic leaders (Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Paolo Freire, Carter G. Woodson, Cesar Chavez, Malala Yousafzai, to name a few) have long argued that literacy is the key to freedom: physical or otherwise. I believe that much like the Phoenix, San Bernardino will rise from its ashes to forge a "new beginning." I believe it will do so because the people of San Bernardino have the heart and the resilience to do so. I send my love and warm wishes, from one SB to another SB.

***

Editor's Note: Teaching Assistant Mario Galicia Jr. is a Ph.D. candidate in the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. He was the 2015 Graduate Division Commencement student speaker and previously was the Graduate Division's Diversity and Outreach Peer Advisor.

Thursday
Nov122015

Shawn Warner-Garcia Named Professional Development Program Coordinator for UCSB Graduate Division

Shawn Warner-GarciaShawn Warner-Garcia, previously the GradPost’s and Graduate Student Resource Center’s Professional Development Peer Advisor, has been named Professional Development Program Coordinator for the UCSB Graduate Division.

Warner-Garcia, a linguist by trade who has worked for many years in job training and program management, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Linguistics Department. Her research focuses on the discourses of sexual ethics among Baptists in America.

Warner-Garcia joined the Graduate Student Resource Center as Professional Development Peer Advisor in the summer of 2014. In that role, reporting to Graduate Division Director of Graduate Student Professional Development Robert Hamm, she provided support for large events such as the New Graduate Student Orientation, fall fellowship receptions, the Grad Slam, and the Beyond Academia conference. She has also offered workshops of her own (writing CVs and cover letters, the Versatile Ph.D., and maintaining one’s digital reputation) and conducted one-on-one advising. She has worked with Academic Services Director Rickie Smith on the quarterly dissertation and thesis filing workshops and helped Director of Admissions and Outreach Walter Boggan with his summer research scholars.

Shawn Warner-Garcia presents a workshop to summer scholars in July 2015. Credit: Patricia Marroquin“Shawn does a lot for the Graduate Division and our students,” said Hamm. “I have no doubt that she will be instrumental in growing the services and trainings we offer through the Graduate Student Resource Center.”

As the Professional Development Program Coordinator, Warner-Garcia will continue to provide workshops and advising to help graduate students identify and achieve their professional goals. She will also continue to report to Dr. Hamm.

“I hope to continue and expand professional development programming for graduate students,” she said. “There are three areas that I am particularly committed to: (1) ensuring that graduate students feel supported and prepared to pursue a variety of career options after graduate school; (2) improving the visibility and accessibility of the Graduate Division’s professional development resources to graduate students; and (3) expanding resources available for targeted populations of graduate students, including new students, student parents, and underrepresented students.”

Shawn Warner-Garcia, right, attended a fall fellowship reception in October 2015 with colleagues Don Lubach, Associate Dean of Students, and Lana Smith-Hale, Graduate Career Consultant. Credit: Patricia MarroquinWarner-Garcia says she has learned a lot in her previous role, and looks forward to future opportunities that her new role affords. “Working at the Graduate Division, first as a student employee and now as a staff person, has already opened up a lot of doors for me,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about the administrative side of the university, and I’ve been able to develop skills in event management, advising, marketing, and many other areas that will serve me well within or outside of academia. Plus, getting to work with graduate students is immensely rewarding because I get to know some truly brilliant individuals and hopefully play a small part in helping them find success and fulfillment both in grad school and afterward.”

Warner-Garcia, her husband Jonathan, and 2-year-old son Austin have lived in Storke Family Student Housing for the last two and a half years. “It has been an amazingly supportive community for us!” she said. “We have made great friends and have been integrated into the campus and surrounding community in really enriching ways.”

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Language and Linguistics from Baylor University and a master’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. Warner-Garcia has worked as a job training specialist at Goodwill and as the program coordinator for the SKILLS academic outreach program at UCSB. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, reading, traveling, and watching football.

“One of my favorite things about working in the university administration is the camaraderie and collaboration,” Warner-Garcia says. “There is a growing groundswell of support for graduate students across the UCSB campus, and lots of people are brainstorming to find new and better ways to help graduate students. I’m really looking forward to being a part of that movement.”

You may contact Warner-Garcia via email at shawn.warner-garcia@graddiv.ucsb.edu or phone, 805-893-4649. For more information on graduate student professional development, view the Graduate Division’s Career and Professional Development page.

Wednesday
Nov042015

Graduate Alumnus in the Spotlight: Museum Curator Michael Darling Is a ‘Rock Star’ in Chicago

Dr. Michael Darling at the "David Bowie Is" exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in 2014.Michael Darling believes that graduate students should take control of their destinies and “make things happen rather than waiting for an opportunity to fall into their lap.” Throughout his life, this Art and Architectural History M.A. (1992) and Ph.D. (1997) alumnus of UC Santa Barbara has adhered to this philosophy, doing what he could to make himself stand out.

And stand out he has. Dr. Darling, 47, is the James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago, a role he has held since July 2010. The Chicago Tribune listed him among “Chicagoans of the Year 2014,” calling Darling a “rock star” for taking a gamble and securing the highly successful “David Bowie Is” exhibition for its only U.S. stop. Chicago magazine followed up in 2015, placing Darling at No. 93 on “The Power 100,” its list of Chicagoans who have the most clout. “Snagging the blockbuster” Bowie retrospective, the magazine said, is “a testament to this curator’s international reputation.” Darling shared the Power 100 list with luminaries such as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and filmmaker/philanthropist George Lucas.

Far from the Windy City and his future rock star persona, Darling grew up in the Los Angeles County coastal city of Long Beach. Michael was artistically inclined but “never very talented from a technical standpoint,” he said, and his “true epiphany” came in middle school when he came across Picasso and Kandinsky in a textbook. He and his parents and two younger brothers enjoyed water-based activities of all kinds, including boating, surfing, and water skiing; and Michael competed on his high school’s water polo and swim teams. With relatives living in Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez, Michael and his family spent a lot of time in the Santa Barbara area even before he came to grad school at UCSB.

Michael Darling, right, and friend Joe Scott took to the waves in San Onofre in the early 1990s. “Checking out the waves at Rincon on the way up was always a milestone on those road trips!” he recalled.

Stanford University, taking notice of his water polo talents, recruited him to play there. So Darling and three other close friends who were water polo and swimming standouts headed to Palo Alto for their undergraduate studies.

Darling earned his bachelor’s degree in Art History from Stanford in 1990. He wanted to pursue a graduate degree, but didn’t know exactly what area of art history to study.

“My interests were quite wide and varied,” Darling recalled. “UCSB had one of the most diverse and large art history faculties around at that time, with professors teaching in many different disciplines, so that was attractive to me and even suggested by one of my art history advisors at Stanford. It was also the era of multiculturalism, so I was exploring and getting to understand that at the time as well, which made UCSB a good fit.”

Darling’s doctoral dissertation at UCSB was on the furniture of 20th century American designer George Nelson.

“I was going around to a lot of rummage sales and garage sales in Santa Barbara during those days, and discovering mid-century furniture (Montecito was a fabulous hunting ground for this material). ... At the time there was very little on George Nelson, who was a contemporary of Charles and Ray Eames. I felt I could fill a void in that area by writing on Nelson, and luckily I had two advisors, David Gebhard and C. Edson Armi, who did not feel that furniture design was an inferior art and that it was worthy of scholarly study.”

Narrowing his research, Darling decided to “focus on the work that George Nelson did with domestic spaces, which coincided with a modernizing of the American home after World War II and was a pretty fascinating sociological period as well.”

During the time of his graduate studies and shortly thereafter, Darling worked in many art-related roles: security guard at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art; researcher at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles; and even an art critic, first for small art magazines, then for Santa Barbara publications, and eventually gaining his own columns in the L.A. Reader and L.A. Weekly.

Darling said he loved critiquing art, one of his extracurricular activities while a grad student at UCSB. “As a critic with a byline, I felt like a full contributor to culture. I saw an ad in this little West Coast magazine called ArtWeek and I sent in a few of my grad school essays. After writing several columns there, I sent my tear sheets to the Santa Barbara Independent and magazines like Flash Art and Art Issues, and then things started taking off. It wasn’t a lot of extra work. I was interested in exhibitions happening in Santa Barbara and L.A., and it was a way to engage with them. It was weird being a critic, and sometimes uncomfortable, and I even got hate mail, once getting mean posters put up all over Santa Barbara about me!”

Darling ended up working for eight years at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), where he was Associate Curator. From that job, he moved to Seattle, where he served as the Jon and Mary Shirley Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) from 2006 to 2010, before heading to Chicago’s MCA. He and his sons Max, 16, and Theo, 11, live in Evanston, Illinois.

In an interview, we learned more about this multifaceted man. He talked about his appreciation for libraries; the importance of internships; what he likes most and least about his job; the value of a Ph.D.; and more.

What was graduate student life like for you at UCSB? What kind of a student were you here, and how did you manage a work-life balance while in grad school?

I was able to primarily concentrate on my studies during my time at UCSB, so I remember spending a lot of time in the library, which has really served me well in my subsequent career. It was a true luxury to work in a good art library where I could just pull books off the shelf at random and explore. That broadened my knowledge base a lot and I find that I have a wider frame of view on art than many of my peers because of this freedom. I have always been good, however, at maintaining a balance between work (or school) and my personal life and was able to find plenty of time to be with friends or be in nature or see movies during that period, which I did a lot. I also met my wife during my first few days of school at UCSB (she was also an art history grad student) so it was an important time for me personally too. I like to think I was a serious student, but I must say that I also always had one eye on life beyond school, so I was doing extracurricular things when I was in Santa Barbara such as writing art criticism. I was also curating independently at places like the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum [today the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara] and a little independent space in Santa Barbara called Spanish Box. I think I knew at the time that my degree was just one aspect of my professional development and I needed to work on other things at the same time if I wanted to find my way into a museum job.

What was your first job out of graduate school?

I got a job working as a security guard at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art after I finished my master’s and before I started on my Ph.D. I wanted to make sure I knew what I wanted to concentrate on before I started so I could be focused. It was an important job for realizing the various layers to a museum, both from an organizational standpoint and from a visitor standpoint. Most guards in museums are very interesting and accomplished people but perhaps are working in creative fields where it is a way of putting food on the table and allowing them to pursue other less lucrative passions but still working in an artistic environment. But when I was really done with school, post-Ph.D., I got a job as a researcher at the Museum of Contemporary Art in L.A. I had wanted to work there since I was an undergrad and it was like the holy grail. I went against my personality type (at the time) and went up to a MOCA curator at an art opening and introduced myself and told her I admired her work. I think I asked if I could take her for coffee some time and learn more about how she was able to do what she did. That led to her offering me a part-time position, which grew and grew into an eight-year run at MOCA. That experience has led me to offer similar advice to other aspiring curators to approach the people they admire and ask for help or advice.

Before you graduated from Stanford, you did summer museum internships in Long Beach. It was there that you discovered the job of “curator,” a job you hadn’t known existed. What did you do in those internships, and would you recommend that grad students do them as a way to explore career options?

Yes, I think internships are important windows onto potential future job options. I did research and worked with artists and thought it was the best job in the world to think about art all day. I see internships here at the MCA leading to real jobs all the time, and in a way my research position at MOCA was just the same, a foot in the door and an opportunity to prove yourself.

Curator Michael Darling at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.Describe your current job.

I am in charge of all programming at the museum, which ranges from exhibitions to talks and performances. Of course, I have amazing people working for me who help create these things and I don’t do it all myself, but it is fun to have a hand in shaping the overall tenor of the program. I also oversee the growth of the museum’s collection and personally curate exhibitions too. It involves a lot of coordination between departments and keeping on top of projects happening simultaneously, from logistics to visionary things and also fundraising to support the programs. It is an extremely busy job, but very rewarding too. I also travel a lot to see art all over the world, as I feel I am expected to be on top of all kinds of developments occurring all over. I try to keep a normal day to 9-5, but it is a pretty social position and there are often dinners and lectures and events I need to go to in a given week.

What exactly does a “museum curator” do?

The basic job is organizing exhibitions. But that also includes writing the books that go with them, writing grants that support them, asking for money from patrons to fund them, writing the interpretive materials that explain them, and doing interviews and tours that help to bring them to life.

What do you like most about your job and what do you like least?

I like the travel the most because I learn so much and find time to think more expansively, but I also like travel the least because I fall behind on email and miss my family and it can be quite lonely at times.

You grew up in California, moved to Seattle, and now live in the Chicago area. How important is it for students to be open and willing to move away for their career?

I think it is important to get different experiences and perspectives, both in an academic and a work environment. I know it has been really beneficial for me to consider how art works in such different contexts and also how different each of the museums I have worked in are. On the other hand, I do worry about the loss of depth of connections that results from moving around. I don’t feel I got to know Seattle and its community as much as I did L.A. from only being there four years, and as a result, I don’t think I was able to contribute as much as I would have liked.

Do you have any advice for graduate students while they are in school? 

One thing I see when I am hiring people, especially for entry-level positions or fellowships, is that the competition is really fierce and a lot of people have the same degrees. I often look to see what self-directed work the candidate has done in their field, where they are showing that they are trying to take control of their destiny and make things happen rather than waiting for an opportunity to fall into their lap. I guess I base that on what I was able to do to make myself stand out but it also bespeaks a desire and commitment that makes me want to hire them.

Do you have any advice for graduate students as they explore career options and/or do job interviews?

I think sensing someone’s passion and curiosity is a very persuasive thing to find in an interview and having a broad world-view that shows you are a well-rounded person. Read the newspaper every day! Or better yet, multiple newspapers!

How do you think your doctoral studies prepared you for your non-academic career? What skills, knowledge, and education gained in graduate school have helped you throughout your career?

When I started at MOCA, I was the only person in the whole building with a Ph.D. It seemed like overkill, but it did help my resume stand out. When I went to the Seattle Art Museum, a few curators had Ph.D.’s, but it was still unusual, and when I came to the MCA I was again the only person in the whole building with a Ph.D., but that has since changed and now there are several people here with them. The field is changing and the competition is such that a Ph.D. helps you to stand out in a sea of M.A.s. We have Ph.D.s here at the MCA who edit books and who devise interpretation strategies and who do archival research, so there are jobs beyond curating where it is applicable. I know that all that time I spent in the stacks, which only a Ph.D. can provide, has given me a breadth and depth of knowledge that can’t be matched by an M.A. in museum studies.

Do you have any suggestions for the UCSB educational system (or universities in general) on how to better prepare our grad students for careers?

Michael Darling with octogenarian Mexican contemporary artist Eduardo Terrazas in Mexico City in February 2015.I haven’t been too close to the university system in a long time, but I do sense that the attitude that Ph.D.s were only to pursue academic work has loosened considerably. I felt I had to keep my museum interests as a dirty little secret. I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the changing nature of tenure and employment in academia and the growing number of grads who want to put their degrees to use. I think being open to the various applications of a grad degree is something that would be good for universities to consider and would ultimately lead to a wider impact for their respective fields.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishments and/or something you are the most proud of professionally and personally?

Personally, it is being a father; professionally, it may be the Isa “Genzken Retrospective” I organized for the MCA and with MOMA New York and the Dallas Museum of Art, or the “Target Practice: Painting Under Attack 1949-78” exhibition I did at the Seattle Art Museum.

You were written about a lot when you secured the Bowie exhibition (which ran through January 4, 2015). Can you briefly discuss this and how it came about?

We just hit it at the right time, and picked the right project. I heard about it and contacted the V&A [Victoria and Albert Museum] in London and as it turned out we were the first American museum to approach them and they didn’t have much of a tour at all. I negotiated that we would be the first American venue and it turned out we were the only American venue and then our team here made the most of that. It looked like a big coup but it was a pretty banal transaction. It ended up being the most well-attended show in MCA history, drawing 200,000 people.

Who has been and/or is a hero, mentor, role model, or inspiration to you?

I have had a lot of great female curator role models that have given me big breaks in my career, including Josine Ianco-Starrels for my first internship, Elizabeth Smith for giving me a chance at MOCA, Mimi Gates for hiring me in Seattle, and then Madeleine Grynsztejn for tapping me to come to the MCA. All have been enormously influential on me. Paul Schimmel at MOCA is another one, however, who I learned a lot from and who I think about a lot as an example.

What do you do for fun and relaxation?

Michael Darling enjoyed scuba diving in Kauai, Hawaii, in June 2015.I love the water, and here in the Chicago area love to go to the beach at Lake Michigan. I have been trying to sail on the lake as much as possible. I also like food a lot and exploring new restaurants and cuisines. I do both with my kids, which is a lot of fun.

What is something very few people know about you or that would surprise people about you?

That I have a secret passion and growing knowledge about vintage Italian sports cars, even though I don’t own one myself.

What’s on your bucket list of things to do that you haven’t done?

I’d like to check off more countries in the world to travel to. Travel is one of my favorite things. ... On a quick count, I think I have been to 22 countries. Strangely, I have never been to Portugal, which I would like to see, and I think it is about time I find a way to visit South Korea, India, and Vietnam.

***

More on Dr. Michael Darling:

Fear No Art Chicago’s video interview with Dr. Michael Darling, 2011

Q&A: Michael Darling talks about curating “David Bowie Is,” TimeOut Chicago

New Curator Is Chosen for MCA, New York Times

Friday
Oct302015

Check Out the Graduate Division's New Career and Professional Development Pages

The Graduate Division has recently revamped its Career and Professional Development web pages, and there are now even more resources and information to help you identify and pursue your professional goals.

Headlining the new Career and Professional Development section is the Graduate Student Resource Center, where you can find out about the programming and support available to you to help you succeed in grad school.

Click above to check out the new home page for Career and Professional Development

The new section also houses eight topical pages that feature on-campus and external resources. Click on an icon below to explore more about that page.

 

Thursday
Oct292015

Graduate Student in the Spotlight: Alex Kulick on Community, Autonomy, and Activism

"Grad school is 'real life,' and our happiness, fulfillment, and health during graduate school are just as important as the long-term gains we can attain from our studies and work."

Alex KulickThis is the advice that Alex Kulick, a second-year Ph.D. student in UCSB's Sociology Department, says he would give to fellow graduate students. Alex, a native of Michigan, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women's Studies from the University of Michigan and now serves as the graduate assistant at UCSB's Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. He sat down with us to answer some questions about his community-based research, his biggest challenge in grad school, and who his hero is.

Tell us a little about your childhood and upbringing.

I grew up living with my parents and brother, and I was connected to a supportive and loving extended family and community. Growing up as a queer young person certainly posed some challenges for me – especially socially – but after coming out in high school, I was lucky enough to find a strong LGBTQ community through a local community-based teen center.

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

The process of coming out as queer has been hugely influential on my life, values, and work. While the process of self-discovery and self-expression has certainly been important within this, I think that it’s been more so the strength, diversity, compassion, and love of LGBTQ communities into which I have grown and developed. This has been the most key in helping me to critically examine and improve my relationships with myself, others, and the communities in which I live.

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

My research focuses on processes, potentials, and challenges of collective social change efforts, with a particular emphasis on the leadership and strengths of queer and LGBT communities. I am currently working on a few different projects: one is examining the discursive strategies used in same-sex marriage advocacy; the second is examining the experiences of LGBTQ college students nationwide; and the third is documenting and analyzing the creative strategies of queer youth advocates in Michigan. This work has grown from my experiences as an activist and organizer with LGBTQ communities, including my belief in and commitment to the mutually beneficial relationships among academics, intellectuals, organizers, and activists.

Alex, second from right, presented research findings with queer youth leaders at a social work conference in Chicago.What has graduate student life been like for you?

Grad school has been full of surprises! Going from working full time in southeast Michigan to living and being a graduate student in Santa Barbara has been a culture shock in more ways than one. While this has certainly been trying at times, it has also allowed me to put in the time and work into readjusting my expectations for work, school, life, and – of course – balance.

What do you wish you had known before you started grad school? What do you like most about grad school and what do you like least?

I think the biggest surprise and challenge of graduate school has been a combination of learning to pace myself and developing strategies to sustain a healthy and fulfilling life while being a graduate student. Although I knew going in that grad school would be a place of intellectual challenges and professional growth, I was less prepared for the emotional, mental, and physical adjustments it would take.

I am incredibly grateful for the amount of autonomy and independence I have as a grad student, both in shaping the trajectory of my graduate studies, as well as in day-to-day life.

On the flip side, the ambiguity and lack of structure that comes with this autonomy is also my least favorite part of navigating grad life.

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

The strAlex, center, spoke at a University of Michigan community forum to address violence, incarceration, and the use of the death penalty.ongest source of motivation and drive have been my connections to family, community, and work outside of graduate school and academic life. The relationships I have in these spaces are really key in holding me accountable to the enormous privilege that being a graduate student affords. As well, these connections also help me continually feel grounded in the applications and implications of my research and writing.

Who is your hero and why?

One of my many (s)heroes is Adrienne Rich, the lesbian feminist poet and theorist. In particular, I love this passage from the convocation address she gave at Douglass College in 1977:

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work. ... It means that we insist on a life of meaningful work, insist that work be as meaningful as love and friendship in our lives. It means, therefore, the courage to be ‘different’; not to be continuously available to others when we need time for ourselves and our work; to be able to demand of others – parents, friends, roommates, teachers, lovers, husbands, children – that they respect our sense of purpose and our integrity as persons.”

As well, I feel lucky and blessed to have a number of different mentors and co-mentors with whom I’m able to be vulnerable with my work, professional development, goals, dreams, strengths, and challenges. It’s been especially helpful for me to reach out to my peers, including other grad students, as co-mentors as we go through this journey together.

Alex introduced Dr. Angela Davis with other student activists at the University of Michigan.Name an accomplishment you are most proud of and why.

I think the accomplishment that I’ve been most proud and excited about recently has been learning to travel alone. Although embarking on journeys by myself is often scary, I’ve found that learning to be independent in this process of setting out has opened me up to a whole new set of experiences and people that I’m eternally grateful for. 

What are your favorite hobbies?

One of the great joys of my life is taking long drives, despite the ever-present guilt from the feeling of wasting time, money, and gas. I’ve also recently begun a meditation practice, which has immeasurably helped me cultivate a sense of peaceful, calm determination. And of course, Netflix. My favorite shows include (but are certainly not limited to) "Gilmore Girls," "Parks and Rec," "Steven Universe," and "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

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

I’ve seen every episode of "Malcolm in the Middle" and "Roseanne."

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

Following graduate school, I am hoping to be working in a position that enables me to engage with and balance research and writing, community work, teaching, and organizing. Although this setup could be ideally located in a university setting, I could also see myself doing non-profit work, consulting, and/or some combination of part-time work.

Alex, in back row middle, poses with the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity staff.

Tuesday
Oct132015

Grad Slam Is ‘Perfect Practice’ to Tell the Stories of Research, UC President Napolitano Says

UC President Janet NapolitanoIn a column this week on the independent news and commentary website The Conversation, University of California President Janet Napolitano wrote of the responsibility of the academic community to “ensure that the work and voices of researchers are front and center in the public square.” And she praised the Grad Slam, which had its origins at UC Santa Barbara under Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti, as an excellent way to accomplish that.

Scientists, President Napolitano said, should be seen as regular people asking and answering important questions. She added that society needs more scientists who can explain what they do in language that is both compelling and understandable to a lay audience.

“At the University of California, we pride ourselves not only on the quality of our research, but also on its contribution to improving aspects of the world we live in,” President Napolitano wrote. “It also is possible,” she added, “to have some fun in demonstrating the broad, societal significance of research.”

Having “fun” for a “serious purpose” is how she describes the Grad Slam. Following is an excerpt of her remarks about the UC Grad Slam. To view her full column on The Conversation website, read “Why more scientists are needed in the public square.”

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“Last May, I had the opportunity to emcee the first-ever University of California system-wide Grad Slam.

The Grad Slam asked UC graduate students to take their years of academic toil and research, and present their work to an audience in just three minutes, free of jargon or technical lingo.

Think of these presentations as TED talks on steroids or the ultimate in elevator speeches. Each of our 10 campuses held a local competition, and the finals took place at our system-wide headquarters in Oakland. Several of those finalists are featured on The Conversation’s website [including Daniel Hieber, UCSB’s Champion who went on to take second place in the UC-wide Grad Slam].

While it was a fun event, the purpose was very serious.

Good, sound science depends on hypotheses, experiments, and reasoned methodologies. It requires a willingness to ask new questions and try new approaches. It requires one to take risks and experience failures.

But good, sound science also requires clear explanation, succinct presentation, and contextual understanding. Telling the story is half the battle, and Grad Slam is perfect practice.”