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Physical Sciences Student Advisory Board

The UCLA Physical Sciences Student Advisory Board on Diversity is comprised of graduate students in the division of physical sciences who are dedicated to creating a climate that provides everyone with opportunities to contribute to our research and teaching missions.

The full board charter describes the board charge, guidelines for board membership, and the process by which the board will contribute to the development and implementation of the Physical Sciences Division Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan.

These students have a proven track record of commitment to diversity in all dimensions and are willing to help champion efforts designed to make our departments more equitable and inclusive.

Members of the PS-SAB will support the office of the Dean serving as advisors, liaisons, and problem solvers. They will advise us on the best way to address and prioritize requests for action including those in the OCDS letter. We will ask them to review the actions suggested in this plan and recommend modifications as needed. The PS-SAB will meet with the Dean and members of the Physical Sciences Diversity Committee, ideally once per month.

The SAB members are:

Kate Anderson, UCLA graduate student

Katherine Anderson – Math

Kate is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Mathematics, where she studies analysis. Previously, she studied Mathematics and STEM Education at UC Berkeley. Kate loves learning and teaching math and is especially passionate about equity in higher math education. Outside of math, Kate loves the outdoors. She accomplished her longtime dream of hiking the John Muir Trail/Nüümü Poyo in the Fall of 2018.

Kristian Barajas, UCLA graduate studentKristian Barajas – Physics & Astronomy (physics)

Kristian is a third-year doctoral student and former APS Bridge Fellow within the Department of Physics & Astronomy. His current research focuses on designing the electrostatic potential applied to a linear ion chain as an analytic function of the potential applied to electrodes within a trapped ion quantum computer for improved qubit manipulation. He serves as a councilperson for Marginalized Identities in P&A and a physics grad student representative on the P&A Diversity Committee.

Dayanni Bhagwandin, UCLA graduate studentDayanni Bhagwandin – Chemistry & Biochemistry (materials/organic)

Born in Guyana, Dayanni moved to the United States with her parents at three. She grew up in New York City and attended the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering, one of New York’s most diverse schools. She graduated from Hunter College with a Chemistry B.A. in 2017, and work in UCLA’s Rubin Lab studying the synthesis of organic materials. In the future, she hopes to work at the intersection of science, policy, and education.

Sara Graves, UCLA graduate studentSara Graves – Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences

Sara (she/her) is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at UCLA. She completed her undergraduate degree at Carnegie Mellon in physics with minors in public policy and gender studies. Before coming to UCLA she spent time as a scientific researcher, worked at several environmental non-profits, and taught skiing. She hopes to bring conversation about equity and the environment to the forefront of climate science research.

Danielle Hoague, UCLA graduate studentDanielle Hoague – Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

Danielle (she/her) is a second-year Ph.D. student in the UCLA Environment and Sustainability program pursuing interdisciplinary research in environmental justice and science and technology studies. Her research explores exchanges between scientific institutions and disadvantaged communities. Danielle is a former community college student who transferred to UC Berkeley, graduating with her B.S. in Society and Environment. At UCLA, she is a Cota-Robles fellow, Center for Diverse Leadership in Science Early-Career fellow, and an NRT-INFEWS fellow.

Robert Housden – Mathematics

Robbie (he/him) is a sixth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Mathematics, studying algebraic topology. He believes in creating inclusive STEM spaces.

As a mathematician, he is concerned by the over-reliance on biased metrics (citation indices, teaching evaluations, GRE scores, etc.) for hiring and admissions decisions. He is also a dedicated teacher, having served as a TA or instructor for 24 classes at UCLA where he uses evidence-based practices guided by the principles of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Elisha Jhoti, UCLA graduate student

Elisha Jhoti – EPSS

Elisha is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Geophysics and Space Physics program in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences. As a mixed-race Indian and British woman, she is excited to help make UCLA a more diverse and inclusive place, especially on intersectional issues. She is also a board member of the Society for Women Geoscientists where she is working on institutional reform to encourage more diversity in her department.

Harris Khan – Mathematics

Harris is a Ph.D. Student in the Department of Mathematics who is very passionate about teaching and works as a graduate student instructor. Formerly, Harris worked as a TA, led PEERS workshops, helped teach at the LA Math Circle, and helped with CEED review sessions. He also helped with the implementation of learning assistants in the Math Department.

In 2017, Harris received a B.S. from Northwestern University in applied mathematics with a second major in pure mathematics. He then received an M.S. in Theoretical computer science during the same year. Nowadays, Currently, he is studying algebraic geometry under advisor Burt Totaro, hoping to work towards a thesis by 2022.

Ronald Lopez, UCLA graduate studentRonald Lopez – Physics & Astronomy (astrophysics)

Ronald is an Astronomy graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He is interested in direct imaging of exoplanets and infrared instrumentation, and is currently studying debris disks with the Gemini Planet Imager. He is also a graduate representative for the Astronomy division, a member of the DEI committee for his department, and a UCLA planetarium coordinator. Outside of Academia, Ronald enjoys playing sports, listening to music, and playing chess.

Shreya Patel, UCLA graduate studentShreya Patel – Chemistry & Biochemistry (materials/nanoscience)

Shreya is pursuing a Ph.D. in Materials Chemistry under Professor Sarah Tolbert. Her research is focused on developing new, nanostructured magnetic and magnetoelectric materials for devices such as antennas. She is as passionate about science as she is about science education, and is heavily involved in programs across UCLA geared towards making nanoscience and chemistry accessible to all. In the future, she would like to be a professor or work at a national lab.

Gabriel Ruiz, UCLA graduate studentGabriel Ruiz – Statistics

Gabriel is a 4th year Ph.D. student in statistics and a proud first-generation college graduate raised in Southern California. He looks forward to adding this perspective to the Physical Sciences Diversity Equity and Inclusion Student Advisory Board.

Isabella Trierweiler – Physics & Astronomy (astronomy)

Isabella is a third-year astronomy graduate student studying exoplanets. She grew up in Alabama and Minnesota and did her undergraduate work at Yale University. In the department, she is a council member of the Marginalized Identities in Physics and Astronomy group and helps coordinate the astronomy graduate student outreach efforts, including Astronomy on Tap and virtual classroom visits with local elementary schools.

Rob Ulrich, UCLA graduate studentRobert Ulrich – Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences

Rob (they/he) is a Biogeochemistry Ph.D. student in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences. They’ve been awarded fellowships through the National Science Foundation, the Kavli Foundation, and the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science. Rob’s advocacy work centers community building to mitigate isolation and cultivate resilience. He is a Co-Founder of Queer & Trans in STEM, a member of the International LGBTQ+ in STEM Day Collective, and a Co-Director of Reclaiming STEM.


Division of Physical Sciences Student Advisory Board Charter

The graduate students in the Division of Physical Sciences are central to our teaching and research missions. Therefore, any effort to transform the climate in the division must take into account the goals of our graduate students. The Physical Sciences Student Advisory Board on Diversity will advise the Dean of Physical Sciences on all issues pertaining to the transformation of the division into an environment in which everyone is welcome and has the opportunity to succeed.

Charge: The primary role of the board will be to help develop the Division of Physical Sciences Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategic Plan and to advise the division on its implementation. The board will provide the Dean with feedback on EDI initiatives and activities in progress across the division and propose new initiatives.

Guidelines for membership: The board will consist of graduate student representatives from the six academic departments in the Division of Physical Sciences and from the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES). The board will consist of at least ten members with at least one member from each department and IoES.

Candidates for membership can be self-nominated, or nominated by department chairs, faculty, and graduate students. Nominations should include a CV and a brief letter indicating the candidates’ contributions to equity, diversity, and inclusion and/or motivation for seeking membership on the board. The final selection of the members will be the responsibility of the Division of Physical Sciences Diversity Committee.

Term of service: The term of service on the board will be one year, but members can be renewed annually upon recommendation of the Division of Physical Sciences Diversity Committee. There are no term limits. The division of Physical Sciences Diversity Coordinator will assist the chair with logistics and communications, including website content and social media posts.

Chair: The board will select one member to serve as chair.

Meetings: The board will meet once per quarter with additional meetings called for when there are special opportunities.

In addition to the board members, the Dean, Associate Deans, Assistant Dean and the Division of Physical Sciences Diversity Coordinator will attend the meetings. Guests may include Department chairs and others from both inside and outside the division making presentations.

Prior to each meeting, a call will go out to all committee members for agenda items, and the board chair will work with the Dean and Associate Deans to develop an agenda for each meeting.

Meetings will include presentations about the current situation in the division regarding the climate for diversity and describe initiatives underway to increase equity, diversity, and inclusion at all levels (undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, and faculty). Board members will be asked for advice on how current initiatives should be refined and improved and to propose new initiatives. Minutes will be taken and shared with the committee for the preparation of the board’s report.

Subsequent to the meeting, with support from the division of Physical Sciences Diversity Coordinator, the student advisory board chair will coordinate the preparation of a written report (generally 2-5 pages) that provides comments and recommendations on each item discussed at the meeting. The final report will be posted on the Division of Physical Sciences diversity webpage.

Student Advisory Board Webpage: To aid communication between the students and board members, who serve as liaisons between the students and the Dean’s office, a webpage in the Division of Physical Sciences website that includes information on board membership will be made available to all Physical Science students and faculty. It will also include biographical information and contact information for each board member along with a brief personal statement describing each member’s motivation and goals.

Funding for Diversity Initiatives: The board will have control over an annual budget in the amount of $5,000 to be used in support of diversity and outreach initiatives. It will be up to the board to determine the mechanism for soliciting proposals for these awards and to choose the awardees. The Physical Sciences Diversity Committee and Dean of Physical Sciences have final approval authority over these awards.