Mayela Aldaz-Cervantes

Mayela got her B.S. in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). She is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Materials Department where she studies oxidation of titanium alloys. She was born and raised in Mexico. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, reading, traveling, singing, and playing violin in a local mariachi band.

Walter Aminger

Walter is a second year PhD student in the Education Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests include Science Education, ELL (English Language Learner) students in Science, inquiry/hands-on approach to education, and technology. Walter grew up in Brazil before coming to Florida, where he pursued his bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and master’s degree in Botany/Education. He loves playing soccer, watching sports and forensic files on TV, teaching, travelling, and listening to good music.

Curtis Asplund

Curtis got his B.A. in Physics from Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio and is currently studying to get his Ph.D. in Physics at U.C. Santa Barbara. He does research on black holes and the physics of the beginning of the universe. He grew up in Orange County, which was nice because he got to go to Disneyland many times. Curtis likes to play guitar, violin, and the ukulele.

Debbie Audus

Debbie is a PhD student in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research involves using simulations to understand the physics of charged polymers, like DNA, for applications such as biosensors and glues. She grew up in New Jersey and received her bachelor's degree from Cornell University in New York. Outside of research, she enjoys painting, hiking and traveling.

Abhishek Badki

Abhishek is a second year graduate student in the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests include Computational Photography, Computer Vision and Graphics. He grew up in India where he got his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. Outside of research, he enjoys reading, listening to music and short movie making.

Daniel Balick

Dan Balick is a PhD student in the physics department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, working under the guidance of Prof.

Deborah Barany

Deborah is a PhD student in the Dynamical Neuroscience program at UCSB.  Her research focuses on the neural computations underlying goal-directed movement, and she investigates this topic using both neuroimaging and behavioral methods. Deborah is originally from Minnesota and earned a B.A. in Neuroscience and Mathematics from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. She enjoys exercising her brain by playing tennis, hiking, playing guitar, and eating popcorn.

Phillip Barton

Phillip is a third year graduate student in the Materials department at UCSB. He studies relationships between chemical composition, crystal structure, and physical properties to help enable the rational design of functional materials. He grew up playing ice hockey in Washington state, went to college in Chicago, and then came to California to see what all the fuss was about. He is enjoying himself here and spends his free time at the beach surfing or up in the mountains skiing and snowboarding.

Juliana Bernal-Ostos

Juliana was born in Bogota, Colombia, and is very proud to be Colombian. When she was twelve, she moved to Washington, D.C. and attended a small international school. Juliana attended college at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, where she studied mechanical engineering and developed a very strong interest in biomaterials, though she is still trying to figure out exactly what those are. Nowadays, Juliana lives in Santa Barbara with her fiancé. When she’s not working in the lab, she’s playing sports.

Chris Bernt

Chris is pursuing his PhD in inorganic chemistry under the advisement of Peter Ford and as a member of the Center for Sustainable Use of Renewable Feedstocks.  He grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska and earned his B.A. in mathematics and psychology from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.  His current research focuses on catalytic disassembly of woody biomass to platform chemicals. Besides science, Chris enjoys bassoon, camping, playing video and board games, and manatees.

David Boy

David grew up in North Carolina with two brothers and a sister. Notably, he once did very well in a tennis tournament, though not well enough to win a trophy. He also helped start a high school and recited "Jabberwocky" at his graduation speech. He then moved to Massachusetts to attend Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, where he played Ultimate and started doing research in microfluidics. Now, he lives in California with his fiancee and is working towards a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at UC Santa Barbara. He continues to play Ultimate and do research in microfluidics.

Sophie Briggs

Sophie is from New Zealand, where she developed an interest in geology while working as a tour guide on an active marine volcano near her home town of Whakatane. After completing her bachelor’s degree in Geology, Sophie spent half a year working as an exploration geologist in the Western Australian outback. The lure of California’s beautiful landscapes and sunny weather brought Sophie to Santa Barbara to attend graduate school. Now a third year Ph.D.

Tobias Brown-Heft

Tobias is a habitual backpacker, snowboarder and vocalist. He also immensely enjoys his work as a PhD student in the materials department at UCSB. He received his Bachelor’s degree in physics and chemistry from the University of Oregon in his hometown of Eugene. The knowledge and skills he gained there combined with his graduate work are being applied to the engineering problem of energy efficiency for computing applications. Why is the battery life in your smartphone or laptop so limited? In some situations charging a battery every few hours just isn’t an option.

Julia Buck

Julia Buck is a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on the ecology of trematode parasites in salt marshes. Julia has lived in 5 different U.S. states, including Florida, where she grew up, and Oregon, where she completed her PhD in Zoology. When not in the lab, Julia can be found hiking, knitting, or playing with her dog.

Andy Carter

Andy Carter is a third year PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara. He is currently building extremely small (less than 100 nanometers long!) transistors for computer chips, cell phones, and memory cards. He went to the University of Notre Dame for his undergraduate degree, where he also studied electrical engineering. Andy has been involved in radio and electronics since the beginning of high school when he learned about amateur radio.

Philip Chan

Philip is a second year PhD student studying photonics in UCSB's Electrical and Computer Engineering department. He grew up in New Jersey and received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University. His current research is on green indium gallium nitride lasers for solid state lighting. Outside of the lab, some of Philip's interests are hiking, television and music.


Yung-Ting Chuang

Yung-Ting is a 4th year PhD student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She does research on how to detect and defend against attacks in a distributed network. In addition, she also does simulations and investigates/analyze the data under a rapidly changing membership. Yung-Ting grew up in Taiwan and she was in a music gifted program since age 7. She came to the US in 2002 and that's the time she started shifting her interests from music to engineering.

Megan Chui

Megan is third year graduate student in Inorganic Chemistry at UCSB. She obtained a BS in Chemistry at the University of Miami after a career switch from Marine Science. Megan is a member of CenSURF (Center for Sustainable Use of Renewable Feedstocks) and is working towards the selective disassembly of lignocellulosic biomass towards higher value products. When she is not in the lab, Megan loves to ride her horse, Frosty, go scuba diving, eating, and recently joined a curling league.

Brett Compton

Brett studied for his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky.  Currently he is a PhD student in the Materials Department at UCSB where his research includes developing computer models to understand and predict impact damage in advanced armor materials through computer simulations and high-velocity impact experiments.  While not in the lab he enjoys hiking, pottery, and snow skiing.

David Copp

David is a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at UCSB. He studies the broad field of Control Theory and its applications in robotics, energy systems, and medicine. Originally from Arizona, he spent much of his childhood jumping bikes in desert washes. After earning his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arizona, he moved to the Central Coast, where he still enjoys riding bicycles and generally experiencing the outdoors.

Stacy Copp

Stacy is a PhD student in the UCSB Physics Department.  She studies tiny glowing silver clusters that form on DNA and uses these clusters to make new nanomaterials.  As an interdisciplinary scientist, she finds it most exciting to study problems in physics that also include elements of biology and chemistry.  Stacy grew up in New Mexico and loves hiking, music, running, and green chili.  Since moving to California for graduate school, she eats considerably less green chili but has been enjoying the beach and the great avocados that grow along the Central Coast.  When not in the lab, you can

Patrick Curtis

Patrick is a second year MS student in mechanical engineering specializing in soft robotics. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and German. His research interests lie in novel sensor and actuator design for soft robots, particularly those involving light and fluid based systems. He is also passionate about engineering pedagogy and has been a teaching assistant for five different courses so far. He loves to cook and practice martial arts in his life outside of academics.

Andrew Dittmore

“Teaching reinforces my passion for science, and helps me keep a fresh perspective. I believe in encouraging students to make their own discoveries and try to provide an environment in which science is exciting and meaningful.” Andrew has published scientific papers on adhesion in geckos and the nanoscale behavior of polymers. He is currently a PhD student in the materials department at UCSB

Tammy L. Elwell

Tammy Elwell works to build more resilient coastal communities. Her research addresses the human dimensions of coastal and marine conservation, management, and spatial planning amid rapid global environmental change. As a social scientist committed to applied research, she enjoys bridging teams that span disciplines, languages, and cultures. Previously, Ms.

Logan Fiorella

Logan is a second year Ph.D. student at UCSB studying Cognitive Psychology. He received his B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Modeling and Simulation from the University of Central Florida. Logan is interested broadly in how principles of human cognition can inform instructional practice, and how people learn from multimedia. His current research looks at how and why the act of teaching others improves learning.  In his spare time, Logan enjoys meditating, hiking, reading, writing, vegetables, and his truck.

Micha Fireman

Micha Fireman is a PhD student in the Materials Science department at UCSB.  He moved to California from Florida to complete his undergraduate degree in Physics at Caltech, and then spent a year working at a startup company involved in carbon nanotubes filtration for water desalination before starting his graduate work.  He now studies the growth of semiconductor material by a technique called Molecular Beam Epitaxy.  In his spare time, Micha enjoys the great outdoors that Santa Barbara has to offer.

Maxwell Fisch

Michael Ford

California born and raised, Michael never found a good enough reason to leave. Sandy beaches, moderate Mediterranean climate, and cutting-edge research in the Materials Department beckoned at UCSB after he completed his degree in chemistry at UC Davis. When he's not trying to get electrons to flow through plastic materials, you'll find it hard to pry Michael away from his girlfriend and his adorable (and spoiled) Yellow Labrador, Simba.

Wade Gabrow

Wade is a second year PhD student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  His research involves studying and understanding the rules by which RNA folds into three dimensional shapes.  He uses this knowledge to construct artificial RNA molecules that can self-assemble into predefined shapes and architectures, giving them novel properties that can be used as biosensors and biologically useful nano-devices.  Wade graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.  He spent five years as a chemist in the Air Force before enrolling in PhD studies at UCSB.  Outs

Matt Gebbie

Matt is a fourth year graduate student in the Materials department at UCSB, where he studies the chemistry and physics of solid-liquid interfaces. His current research aims to contribute to the development of a bio-inspired approach to designing biomedical adhesives by elucidating the molecular-scale mechanisms underlying the ability of marine mussels (the shellfish, not mussel tissue) to strongly adhere to a wide variety of surfaces in wet environments.

Amitabh Ghoshal

Amitabh earned his BA in 2001 from Hanover College in the short span of 3½ years with majors in Physics and Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. His work as a Graduate student involved designing structures for efficient excitation of surface plasmons on metal films. After obtaining his PhD in Optics in 2010, Dr. Ghoshal joined the group of Prof.

Carlos Gomez

Carlos is a fourth year PhD student in the Molecular, Developmental, and Cellular Biology Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on understanding the interplay between biochemical and mechanical processes in cellular and tissue growth. Outside of research, he enjoys traveling, watching movies, and participating in obstacle course races.

Stephen Gosnell

Stephen is a PhD student in the Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology Department at UCSB. Growing up playing in the creeks and streams of rural South Carolina helped Stephen develop a passion for the outdoors. After a few years searching for the right major in college, including stops as an engineer, physicist, and religious studies major, he returned to nature and received a BS in Biological Sciences.

Matthew Guidry

Matthew Guidry is PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Santa Barbara.  He grew up in southern California, and as a high school student he enjoyed playing around with electronics.  This interest led to an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from UCSB, where he has continued on into graduate school.  For his PhD he is currently working on low-noise radio receivers which can operate in adverse environments for radar, navigation, and communication applications.  While a student, he has also worked at multiple internships in the engineering industry in diverse area

David Haggerty

David is a third year Ph.D student in the mechanical engineering department, specializing in soft robotics design and control. He received a dual B.S. in mechanical engineering and product design, and his research interests center on the engineering design cycle, bioinspiration, and automation. In his free time he likes to be outdoors and work on entrepreneurial projects, as well as play with his two very good dogs.

Shereen Hamdy

Shereen is a graduate student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. She grew up in San Diego and attended college at Cornell University, where she studied engineering physics. At UCSB, she works on lasers for the next generation of energy efficient lighting. Outside of the lab, Shereen can be found listening to and writing music, at the beach, or cooking up a tasty dinner.

Chris Hammetter

Chris Hammetter is a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at UCSB.  His research involves the study of cellular structures and their behavior, especially concerning applications in impact absorption.  He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.  Before going to college, he grew up in Albuquerque, NM.  In his free time, Chris enjoys working on his motorcycle, playing video games, and hanging out with friends.

Ann Hermundstad

Ann Hermundstad is a graduate student in the Physics Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Her research interests range from ultracold quantum phenomena to applied physics in the context of seismology, biology, and neuroscience.  Her current research focuses on the role of thermodynamics in granular systems and its influence on earthquake dynamics.  She grew up skiing and hiking in Colorado, and you can often find her painting, reading and writing poetry, and traveling.

Takako Hirokawa

Takako Hirokawa is a 4th year graduate student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering. She received her bachelor degrees in Engineering Physics and Applied Math from the University of Colorado Boulder. She works on silicon photonic devices that will make the Internet faster! In her free time, she likes to ride her bike, make ice cream, and bake. 

Collin Holgate

Collin is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Materials Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he researches high-temperature ceramic materials for jet engines. Originally from Minneapolis, he was a first-generation college student at the University of Minnesota where he majored in Materials Science. Collin enjoys ice skating, driving around the country, taking pictures of the night sky, and tinkering with computers.

Michael Isaacman

Michael grew up in Long Island, NY and graduated from SUNY Albany in 2006 earning a B.S. in Biology. Mike moved to Santa Barbara in 2007 and is pursuing his Ph.D. under Luke Theogarajan where he is synthesizing nanoscale capsules for site-specific drug delivery. When not in the lab, Mike enjoys playing basketball, going to the beach and spending time with friends and family.

Jason Isaacs

Jason is currently a Ph. D. student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at UC Santa Barbara. He grew up in Kentucky and studied electrical engineering at the University of Kentucky. Upon graduation he went to work at Lexmark International as a development engineer where he spent the next six years designing control systems for inkjet printers. In 2006 he moved to Santa Barbara with his wife, a chemical engineer working for a startup company in the Santa Barbara area. Jason is advised by João Hespanha of the Center for Control, Dynamical Systems and Computation.

Warren Jin

Warren is a second year grad student at UCSB studying integrated silicon photonics. Before moving to Santa Barbara, Warren worked as a software engineer. He graduated from Brown University in 2012 with a degree in Computer Engineering. In his free time, Warren enjoys rock climbing, and Latin dance.

Arianne Johnson

Arianne is a Ph.D. student at UC Santa Barbara in the Department of Psychology.  She completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at Dartmouth College.

Michael Johnson

Michael grew up in Oregon, where he developed his passion for music and physics while avoiding all the rain. His undergraduate experience at USC got him interested in mathematical physics, and he currently studies some of the most extraordinary objects in the universe, known as pulsars. They are stars the mass of the sun, but compressed to the size of Santa Barbara, that can be found spinning nearly a thousand times a second. On each rotation, we see a faint flash, so they act as cosmic metronomes, and can be as accurate as atomic clocks. In his

Jason Kawaski

Jason is a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Materials Department at UCSB. His research is on the atomic layer growth of compound semiconductors, metallic nanoparticles and nanorods, and multifunctional Heusler alloys. He grew up in the Bay Area and received his B.S.E. from Princeton University, where he was also a member of the swim team. Outside of the lab he enjoys cycling and cooking.

Patrick Keeley

Patrick was born and raised in Santa Rosa, CA and has always been interested in what makes humans tick.  Specifically, he thinks its amazing how the brain manages to control every aspect of our behavior.  That is why he went to USCB and got his Bachelor's Degree in Biopsychology.  But his studies left him feeling unsatisfied.  There were too many questions left unanswered.  So he now spends his days trying to understand how the nervous system develops as a Ph.D.

Susan Kuzminsky

Susan is a native Californian who received her bachelor’s degree from UCLA. After participating in archaeological studies and fieldwork in the Mediterranean and South America, Susan entered the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at UCSB. Her research incorporates skeletal biology, archaeology, and 3D technology to examine ancient human migration in North and South America. Susan also conducts research in Forensic Anthropology and assists the Santa Barbara Police, Sheriff’s Department, and local archaeologists with the identification of human skeletal remains.

Robert Lewis

Robert got his B.A. in chemistry in beautiful San Diego at UCSD. He couldn't bring himself to leave California so he moved up the coast to Santa Barbara and is currently studying to get his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at UCSB. He does research on new methods to create carbon-nitrogen bonds using nitroso compounds. Robert did most of his growing up in Moorpark, CA but continues to grow up in sunny Santa Barbara to this very day.

Evan Lobbiser

Evan was born in Oregon, and moved to Santa Barbara three years ago to study for his Ph.D.

Daniel Luna

Daniel was born in California, but grew up in South Florida. While he enjoyed high school - and the good friends, sports, and teachers that came along with it - he was happy to get closer to some mountains in college. Daniel attended Duke University, where he double majored in Biology and Religion. In 2008 he came to UCSB to study paleontology, and he feels very fortunate that his research has taken him to the Galapagos Islands, Madagascar, the Andes of Chile, and the flatlands of Argentina. But his primary motivation as a grad student is to begin a career in teaching.

Daniel Malinow

Daniel Malinow is a PhD student in the physics department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests include theoretical soft-condensed matter, statistical physics and complex systems.  Currently he is focused on building network models of systemic risk in financial systems and studying the dynamics of feedback loops inherent in financial risk management. Daniel grew up in Baltimore, MD and pursued his undergraduate education at the University of Maryland, College Park where he studied architecture and physics.

Harishankar Manikantan

Hari is a postdoctoral researcher in Chemical Engineering at UCSB. His work focuses on understanding complex and biological fluids, and he is particularly interested in mechanics at the microscopic scale. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics from UC San Diego, and the beauty of the beaches and mountains of Southern California continues to keep him attached to this part of the world.

Loren Merrill

Loren grew up in Boston, MA and attended Cornell University for his undergraduate degree in natural resources and conservation biology. During and after college Loren worked on research projects in a variety of locations: Australia, South Africa, Tanzania, Peru, Venezuela, New Mexico, Maine, and now in California.  He is currently a PhD student in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UCSB studying the factors that influence levels of immunity in wild animals--specifically birds and fish.

Levi Miller

Levi Miller studies how electricity flows through newfangled plastics. He convinced the materials department at UCSB to let him try to earn a degree this way by graduating from the Colorado School of Mines with a bachelor's degree in physics. Now in his second year of graduate school, he often leaves the lab to walk around and listen to what people have to say.

Anahita Mirtabatabaei

Anahita is a 5th year graduate student in Mechanical Engineering Department of UCSB. She was born and raised in Iran. In her first year of high school, she participated in a group project on building a solar panel for tracking the sunlight, which got her interested in mechanism design. During her undergraduate, she worked in various work environments from crane repair shop to pneumatic circuit design. In 2007, she moved to the U.S. to pursue her PhD degree in the area of dynamic systems, control and robotics. Anahita enjoys hanging out with friends and cycling from town to town.

Jessica Mkitarian

Jessica is a second year Master’s student in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, where she is specializing in Coastal Marine Resource Management and focusing in Eco-Entrepreneurship. For her Master’s Thesis Group Project, she is working with a team to create environmentally focused educational media to help teach science and promote environmental stewardship. Jessica has a B.A. in Economics from Boston University. She is a native Californian from Santa Monica and loves the ocean, and in her spare time enjoys hanging out with friends. 

Shadi Mohagheghi

Shadi is a fourth year PhD student in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on mathematical modeling of social phenomena, where she applies concepts and tools from network science and graph theory frequently. She finished her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles in electrical engineering. Shadi loves painting, drawing, watching good movies, and cats.

Jacob Monroe

Jacob is a 4th year PhD student in the Chemical Engineering Department at UCSB.  Currently, he performs simulations at the resolution of single atoms in order to study the structure of water and its role in determining how peptides and proteins interact with each other.  Jacob grew up in Virginia and enjoys hiking, running, and playing the violin.

Kevin Moore

Kevin grew up outside of Philly and didn't want anything to do with academia until he took physics in high school. He got his BA in physics from Cornell University in frigid Ithaca, NY and eventually decided he needed something a little warmer, so now he's a PhD student in physics at UCSB doing research into how stars explode. His interests are all over the place though and also include quantum computing, skepticism, linguistics, and psychology. In his spare time, Kevin does gymnastics and capoeira, and is trying not to forget his Japanese.

Michael Mrazek

Mike earned his BA at Rice University in 2006. He is now a PhD student in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research focuses on the opposing constructs of mind-wandering and mindfulness, with an emphasis on how cultivating a capacity for non-distraction can impact educational and professional performance. Mike also enjoys hiking, guitar, movies, and meditation.

Alice Nguyen

Alice Nguyen was born in Bordeaux, France, but has lived in California her entire life.  She grew up in San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley.  After highschool  she attended UC Berkeley for college.  There Alice was fortunate enough to participate in a diversity of research projects including one that took her to Tahiti, French Polynesia.  These life changing experiences help her to switch gears from pursuing Medical School to pursuing Graduate School.  Now she is a PhD student in the Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology Department, studying Parasites genetics and host-specificity.

Brenden Ortiz

Brenden obtained both his undergraduate (B.S. Engineering Physics) and graduate (Ph.D. Material Science) education from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Wilson group at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Brenden grew up in Pueblo, Colorado with his two brothers, parents, and a copious amount of chickens. Outside of research, Brenden enjoys rock climbing, ice hockey, video games, and gardening. 

Rush Patel

Rush is a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at UCSB.  He grew up in Northern California and studied Aerospace Engineering at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.  Upon graduation he worked at Northrop Grumman Space Technology for a few years before moving to Santa Barbara to pursue his PhD.  Rush is advised by Francesco Bullo of the Center for Control, Dynamical Systems and Computation.  Their research focuses on various aspects of multi-agent control.  In particular, they work on problems in partitioning spaces among multiple robots.  In his spare time Rush enjoys cooking, surfing and rock climb

Justin Pearson

Justin Pearson is a graduate student in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He studied mechanical engineering at UCSB and Stanford University, emphasizing control systems. For four years after graduation he worked on autonomous airplanes at AeroVironment. He designed and implemented control algorithms for the Global Observer: a giant high-altitude long-endurance prototype spyplane powered by liquid Hydrogen. He deployed to Edwards Air Force Base for the aircraft's 15-month flight-test campaign.

Mihir Pendharkar

Mihir came to California after graduating from University of Pune in India with a B.E. in Instrumentation Engineering. He also spent a semester in France, studying during weekdays and travelling over weekends. In his 4th year of PhD now, he is working on challenges related to making the next generation of computing ('Spintronics and Quantum Computing') a reality. While Spintronics promises computers that will be fast yet last longer on battery, quantum computing will enable them to be big on power yet tiny in size!

Britney Pennington

The exquisite complexity of life has captured Britney’s fascination since she was a very little girl.  She was obsessed with marine biology until high school, where she first learned about genetics.  Pursuing molecular biology and biochemistry in college, Britney continued to be enthralled by what makes life “tick” at the chemical level.  Now she’s a 5th year PhD student at UCSB studying eye development using stem cells in hopes of applying her findings to cellular therapies for age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 55.  Britney

Jeff Peters

Jeff is a PhD student in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the UCSB. He works under the guidance of Prof. Francesco Bullo, specializing in the analysis and control of distributed systems. His current research involves the development of algorithms for parameter estimation and calibration in robotic sensor networks. Jeff grew up in the Chicago suburbs and received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He enjoys bowling, punk rock, and traveling.

Celeste Pilegard

Celeste is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Science and a graduate of California State University, Fresno. She studies how people learn and how, as a consequence, they should be taught. Specifically, she's interested in how to get students to make accurate judgments of their own learning. As an undergraduate Celeste spent a lot of time looking at people's brain waves, and that was cool too. Outside of school Celeste likes baking bread and talking to people about breakfast.

Chris Protor

Chris grew up in the suburbs of Chicago before getting his B.S. studying Physics at the University of Michigan.  After spending two years working at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington, DC, he decided to return to school in order to pursue his passion for conducting fundamental research. He is now entering his fifth year as a PhD student in the Materials Department at UCSB. His research has focused on understanding and overcoming loss mechanisms in solar cells made from conjugated polymers and small molecules.

Raj Purkayastha

Raj is a fourth year graduate student in the Materials Department. Her research involves simulating the charge/discharge processes within a Lithium-Ion Battery, with an emphasis on the stress within storage particles. Using these simulations we can start to asses the effects of aging on a battery and evolve strategies for increasing its lifetime. Raj is from Mumbai, India and has (predictably) fallen in love with jalapenos in the three years she has lived in California.

Elijah Quetin

Elijah has studied at the California Institute of Technology, Göttingen University, and UC Santa Barbara, where he is currently a doctoral student in the physics department.  His thesis project aims to figure out what happens when black holes eat stars and how we can catch them in the act with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope.  Eli also studies performance piano in the music department at UCSB.  He bakes bread and reads books for leisure, spears fish and climbs mountains for adventure.

Brenna Quigley

Brenna is a second year graduate student in the Earth Science Department at UCSB. She also attended UCSB for her undergraduate studies where she received a B.S. in aquatic biology and geology in 2012. Her research interests include how geologic structures, such as faulting and folding, influence ore deposits. Brenna grew up in northern Minnesota, and although she enjoyed the snow, she certainly appreciates the sunshine in Santa Barbara. In her free time, Brenna enjoys hiking, reading, traveling, and taking her black lab puppy to the beach.

Caroline Reilly

Caroline is a fourth year PhD student in the Materials department at UCSB, working on lighting and infrared technologies. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.S. in Chemistry. Other than science, Caroline used to work in theatre lighting and enjoys sports, board games, and video games.

Victoria Rosborough

Victoria is a third year Ph.D. student in photonics at UCSB. She works on building free space laser transmitters for satellite communications. She holds an M.S. in applied physics from the University of Oregon and a B.S. in physics from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys reading and playing the piano.  

Aaron Rowe

Aaron grew up in Los Angeles, and got hooked on chemistry after watching lots of Mr. Wizard episodes. But his interest in outdoor products led him astray. After high school, he moved to the University of Illinois to earn a degree in materials science. His plan was to start a company that makes first aid equipment and camping gear. That was a huge mistake! Medicine is way cooler. So he moved back home, got a Master's Degree in organic chemistry, and then came to UCSB where he is earning a PhD in biochemistry.

Heather Schneider

Heather grew up in the Chicago area and received a BS in biology from Elmhurst College. She earned her PhD in plant biology at the University of California, Riverside studying the effects of exotic plants and anthropogenic nitrogen deposition on California’s desert wildflowers. She is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the department of ecology, evolution, and marine biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and is working on projects related to evolution in wild plant species in response to climate change.

Danielle Schultz

Danielle grew up in Warwick, Rhode Island and moved to Santa Barbara to begin graduate studies in the chemistry department at UCSB, where she investigates the properties of fluorescent silver-DNA complexes. Most recently, she has been working on a collaborative project in Munich, Germany, involving fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to probe solution dynamics. Outside of the lab, she enjoys pretty much all outdoor activities, especially hiking and running.

Christina Shin

Born and raised in sunny southern California, Christina earned her B.A. from Cal State Long Beach before becoming a Ph.D. graduate student in the department of Psychological & Brain Sciences here at UCSB. Her research focuses on how withdrawal from long-term cocaine use impacts the prefrontal cortex region of the brain. She aims to someday understand how craving is expressed in the brain and how withdrawal from cocaine can spark craving in addicts even after they are long sober. In her free time, she likes to go kayaking and hiking.

Seeta Sistla

Seeta Sistla is a 3rd year doctoral student in the department of Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology at UC Santa Barbara. Originally hailing from upstate NY, Seeta completed her undergraduate work at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania majoring in Biology and minoring in Sociology and Anthropology. Having initially discovered a love for the Arctic while working in Alaska for the Student Conservation Association before entering college, Seeta has focused her academic work on the ecological impacts of climate change in northern areas of the world.

Prasanna Srinivasan

Prasanna received MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, India and a PhD in Materials Science Engineering from the University of Southampton, UK. His interdisciplinary research background enabled him to work in research problems ranging from actuation/sensing structures at micro/nano scales, atom chips with integrated functionalities to invitro biological tools over the last decade. He is currently an Otis Williams Research Fellow in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UCSB.

Eric Stanton

Eric was born in San Jose, CA and is now a fifth-year graduate student at UCSB studying photonics. During his undergraduate education at Cal Poly SLO, he worked at PolySat ( on very small satellites called CubeSats. Now he is working on high powered lasers. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, backpacking, beach sports, tennis, soccer, and playing music.

Sarah Stark

Sarah is a 2nd year Master's student at UCSB's Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. Her Master's project is the development of a web series designed to teach environmental science to elementary school students. Sarah grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, but she decided to attend college on the east coast at Boston University where she studied Marine Science.  She loves to bake unhealthy treats, go to concerts, and spend time at the beach in her spare time.

Trevor Steiner

Trevor is a second year PhD student in the Materials Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research work focuses on generating entangled photons using nonlinear materials for quantum computing and quantum information applications. He is advised by Professor John Bowers and Professor Galan Moody. He has his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Minnesota. Trevor has lived most of his life in Wisconsin, so he really enjoys how beautiful (and warm) Santa Barbara is. In his free time, Trevor enjoys surfing, hiking and rock climbing.

Becky Streit

Becky is a fourth year PhD student in the Earth Science Department at UC Santa Barbara. Growing up in South Florida, she was not exposed to the joys of geology until leaving her flat and rock-less home for the geological wonderland of California to attend college at Caltech. Since then her adventures in earth science have taken her throughout California and the Western U.S., as well as to Hawaii, China, Greece, Argentina, and Nepal. Her current research focuses on how climate, sedimentation and erosion, and tectonics interact to affect plateau growth in the Andes.

Marcela Suárez

Marcela is a fourth year PhD Student in the Geography Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research aims to understand how geographic information reported by lay people can be used to assess the impacts of extreme weather events. Marcela grew up in Colombia and loves swimming, hiking, music and dogs.

Steven Swasey

Steven grew up in South Florida and graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a B.S. in Chemistry, after which he worked in industry for two years. He is currently a second year Chemistry graduate student doing research on fluorescent silver DNA nanoclusters. He is trying to elucidate the structural nuances that make these interesting structures fluoresce, especially in regards to their chiroptical properties. He enjoys hanging out with friends and family as well as being overly competitive.

Lynn Sweet

Lynn is a post-doctoral researcher at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, studying the relationship between micro-climate and tree seedling growth across mountainous landscapes in California.  Before establishing in the Mediterranean climate of southern California, Lynn grew up hiking and cross-country skiing in the temperate state of Maine. She received a B.S. in Biology from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, and her Ph.D. from UC Riverside in Plant Biology.  Lynn enjoys hiking, tennis, and walking her dog in the year-round pleasant micro-climate here at UCSB.

Daryl Taketa

Daryl is a 5th year graduate student in the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology under the guidance of Anthony De Tomaso.  In the De Tomaso's lab, he studies and attempts to understand the underlying mechanism of allorecognition (self-nonself recognition) in Botryllus schlosseri.  He attended Santa Clara University majoring in Biomedical sciences with a minor in Biotechnology then worked in the biotech industry for 2 years.

Brent Tan

Brent is a 4th year graduate student in the Physics department of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was born and raised on the small island of Singapore, before leaving to do his undergraduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he graduated with a degree in Physics. In his free time, he enjoys reading, playing video games, and sleeping.

YerPeng Tan

YerPeng is a 5th year graduate student in the Biomolecular Science and Engineering program in UC Santa Barbara. In the Waite lab, he studies squid beak which is the hardest fully organic material known.

Tsun Hin Navin Tsung

Navin got his Bachelor and Master degree in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics at Oxford University, UK. He is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Physics Department at University of California, Santa Barbara where he studies Cosmic Ray astrophysics. He was born and raised in Hong Kong. In his free time, he takes walks in the neighborhood and plays the piano.

Nate Tucker

Nate is currently a PhD candidate at UCSB under Professor Mahnoosh Alizadeh in the Electrical Engineering Department. Nate grew up in Portland, Oregon  and earned his B.S. in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering as well as his Master's in Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara University in the Bay Area. His research focuses on using modern advancements in optimization and learning to increase the usage of renewable energy in human-cyber-physical systems such as the power grid and transportation networks. His hobbies include video games, backpacking, mountain biking, and traveling.

Philip Vieira

Philip is a postdoctoral researcher in the department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at UCSB. His Ph.D. work focused on understanding how memory arises in the brain. At UCSB, he now studies the addicted brain and how drugs of abuse change the way the brain works. When he’s not in the lab, Philip enjoys taking his cat for a walk on the beach, planting heirloom vegetables and exploring the art of fermentation.

Nate Way

Nate grew up in Northern California, but received his BA in psychology from Colgate University in upstate New York.  After his undergraduate years he worked for a couple of professors on sleep research at Stanford University, while thoroughly enjoying his return to a California lifestyle.   He is currently pursuing a PhD in social psychology in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at UCSB and conducts research on stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.  When Nate isn’t conducting research or teaching at UCSB he enjoys playing the guitar, reading good novels, and most impor

Jen Wenzel

Jen is from sunny Phoenix, Arizona where her interest in neuroscience began as an undergraduate at Arizona State University. Now as a PhD student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences here at UCSB Jen utilizes animal models to investigate the neurobiology underlying cocaine addiction.  Specifically, she is interested in which brain regions and neurotransmitter systems play a role in the rewarding and aversive effects of cocaine. Outside of the lab, Jen enjoys biking, petting dogs, and culinary exploration.

Irene Whitney

Irene was born in Santa Barbara when both of her parents were attending UCSB.  She moved to Georgia and quickly picked up a southern drawl, but lost it after moving back to the West Coast where she lived in Santa Cruz.  Finally, coming full circle, Irene attended UCSB as an undergraduate studying Biopsychology.  After graduating she stayed in Santa Barbara working as a research technician, before starting her graduate career in the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology department at UCSB.  Her research focuses on understanding the factors involved in the specification of cell fates

Jamie Wilcox

Jamie obtained her Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she built a rainwater harvesting system in Guatemala with Engineers Without Borders, and an award-winning hydraulic bicycle. She is now a PhD candidate in the Mechanical Engineering department at UCSB where she uses lasers to investigate how proteins move cargo through cells. Outside of the lab she enjoys knitting and traveling.

Emily Wilson

Emily is a Ph.D. graduate student in the department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology.   She studies the effects of an invasive species, the African clawed frog, on native amphibians.  She is investigating predator-prey interactions, disease transmission, and how to detect this invasive species using DNA present in water.  Emily grew up in Oregon and received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University.  Outside of research, she enjoys swimming, fishing, and outrigger paddling. 

Jing YAN

Jing YAN consider herself as an interaction designer and multimedia artist. She is a second year master student at Media Arts and Technology, UC Santa Barbara. Her research interests include interactive media arts, data visualization, and interaction design. Jing grew up in Shanghai, China and received her BA degree in advertising. She has been an exchange student in Germany where she studied literature and explored art museums all around Europe. Jing is also a life observer. She travels, grows plants, and records her life with sketches and words.

Yin Yu

Yin is a Ph.D. Candidate in Media Arts and Technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering, a Master of Science in Information Technology, and a Master of Science in Interior Architecture. Yin is interested in exploring the potential of interactive multimedia environments and the relationship between architecture and music through the emerging technologies in contemporary art/architecture practice. Her researches are focusing on human-computer interaction. In her spare time, she loves traveling and cooking. 

Tom Zimmerfaust

Tom went to undergrad at UCSB in econ-math before moving to Austin, Texas to pursue his master’s degree in economics. He returned to Santa Barbara three years later to work on his PhD in economics by studying fame and team effects on worker wages. He currently uses data gathered from Major League Baseball to study the effects of teams and fame on baseball players. When he’s not crunching numbers, he’s probably out playing soccer or softball.