2022-23 End of Year Newsletter



Happy Summer!

We hope that Spring Quarter is wrapping up well, and extend our warmest congratulations to our graduating cohort! Please stay in touch, and do not hesitate to contact us if you need support.

We are excited to share some news and highlights from this past academic year as we look towards the summer!

 Graduate Division News

Welcome, New Graduate Division Staff!


Joel Savell - Data and Systems Analyst

Joel began his exciting new career at UCSC in February 2023 as a Systems and Data Analyst for the Division of Graduate Studies. In this capacity he assists with data and reporting requests, developmental projects, and other data-related departmental needs.

Joel spent 12 years as a Data Communications Specialist in the financial industry. He is a graduate of UCSC (2000), having majored in Art at Porter College. In his spare time, he likes to surf, create 3D character art for games, and spend time with his wife Billie and their two chihuahua/terrier mixes Oliver and Charlie.

UCSC Implementation Task Force for Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education Report


The campus has released the final report of the Implementation Task Force for Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education (the ITF). The ITF report and recommendations look at the entirety of graduate student support and well-being, including recommendations and significant resources that fall across multiple units, including PIs, the Graduate Division, academic divisions, and the central administration. We are committed to enhancing the success of our graduate students and we will be working over the coming months to engage the broader campus community with implementation plans to achieve these important goals. Read the full report here.


Featured Graduate Student Profile


Anthony Bencomo

Politics, Designated Emphasis in Latin American and Latino Studies

Anthony Bencomo is a 5th-year Ph.D. student in the Politics Department with a Designated Emphasis in Latin American and Latino Studies at UC Santa Cruz. He is currently the first Graduate Student Researcher for the Graduate Division Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Advocacy (DEIA) GSR Program, which helps graduate students develop experience in DEIA evaluation as they assist campus programs supporting historically marginalized students. He has received the Diversity Fellowship and Fund for Latino Scholarship awards from the American Political Science Association for his work researching community and city police reform efforts in California’s often-overlooked San Joaquin Valley, as well as policing in areas like Los Angeles and Oakland. Anthony hopes to understand how police reform operates in areas with a less liberal political climate.

While growing up in Fresno, several of Anthony’s family members and close friends were incarcerated at the youth and adult levels. As a result of these and other experiences, he decided to volunteer with Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos for several years, specifically on their Prison Project. This work mostly consisted of responding to letters from people who are incarcerated and in need of services or information. Working with Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos allowed Anthony to serve people like those he grew up with, and pay back their support for his career.

Anthony has also had the opportunity to participate in several Hispanic Serving Institute (HSI) initiatives, chiefly with the GANAS Graduate Pathways Program as a mentor to incoming graduate students and undergraduate students as they learn about research. This has been a wonderful experience, as he worked with fantastic staff to help students of color navigate higher education.

After graduation, Anthony’s dream is to become a professor at a university within the California State University system. His years spent at these institutions were instrumental in his personal and intellectual growth, so he hopes to return to one of these institutions. When asked for anything else he would like to share, Anthony said, “I am really excited to be part of this Graduate Division Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Graduate Student Researcher program. It is a wonderful opportunity to serve my community and people like me while also continuing to grow as a researcher. Additionally, my wife and I are welcoming our first child very soon, so it should be a fantastic summer.”

2023-24 Graduate and Postdoctoral Awards


    Grad Slam 2023

UC Santa Cruz Graduate Division hosted its annual Grad Slam, a graduate student communication contest, on March 4th at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center. Participants have a maximum of three minutes to explain their graduate research or artistic endeavor to a general audience. Every UC holds a Grad Slam, and the ten UC Grad Slam champions competed in the UC Office of the President Grad Slam in early May in San Francisco.

Many congratulations to winner Christa Seidl from Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, who presented her work Silence in Paradise: Fighting Extinction and Infectious Disease in Hawaiian Birds at the UCOP Grad Slam contest! Congratulations also to our runner-up Meloddy Gao from Social Documentation and our People’s Choice winner César Rojas-Bravo from Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Read more about this event and our other finalists here.


2023 Distinguished Graduate Alumni Award

UC Santa Cruz’s graduate alumni are at the forefront of change on a local, national, and international stage. From groundbreaking film research, to spearheading technological advances, preserving nations’ history, combating climate change, and shifting economic landscapes, UCSC alumni are making a tremendous impact worldwide.

Many congratulations to the five graduate alumni representing each academic division — Benjamín Schultz Figueroa (Arts), Jennifer Bevan (Baskin Engineering), James E. Young (Humanities), Cora Randall (Physical and Biological Sciences), and Jake Kendall (Social Sciences) — who have been named UCSC’s 2023 Distinguished Graduate Alumni!

Read more about this event and the awardees here.


2023 Outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar Award

Postdoctoral scholars contribute important research done at our university, and are an integral part of what makes our campus strong. Many congratulations to Priya Crosby (EMBO Long-Term Postdoctoral Fellow with research focus on circadian rhythm, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Partch Lab) and William DeRocco (Postdoctoral Scholar, Physics Department and Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP), President of Santa Cruz Organization for Outreach in Physics (SCOOP)) for winning the 2023 Outstanding Postdoctoral Scholar award! These scholars were recognized at the 2023 Postdoc Symposium on June 6 at the Seymour Marine Center.

Congratulations to these scholars, and to all of our nominees!

Read more about the awardees here.

2023-24 Program Highlights

Growing Our Own Initiative: Summers in Santa Cruz Project Launch


The Graduate Division has launched the first year of the Growing Our Own Initiative: Summers in Santa Cruz Project for Summer 2023! The Growing Our Own Initiative, funded by the UC Office of the President, aims to increase the number and proportion of UC undergraduate degree recipients who earn an academic doctoral degree, and to increase the number and proportion of UC doctoral enrollees from University of California, California State Universities (CSU), California Community Colleges (CCC), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), and Technical Colleges and Universities (TCU). Overall, we aim to build sustainable pathways for students from first generation, low-income and/or underrepresented groups to the professoriate, in California and beyond.

The Summers in Santa Cruz Project works to create a supportive, holistic summer environment to promote the success of visiting scholars from HBCUs and the UCSC scholars working alongside them. This includes funding for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students to travel to and from HBCUs and other research and logistical needs; faculty and graduate student mentorship development and funding; resources to set up an HBCU-targeted summer program; and summer African, Black, and Caribbean-targeted community building programming to connect HBCU and UCSC students learning under various faculty mentors and in various summer programs.

Anyone interested in participating can contact the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Graduate Studies at

Center for Reimagining Leadership Cota Robles/Doris Duke Program Celebrates Inaugural Year


The Center for Reimagining Leadership, begun in 2022, is collaboratively led by faculty co-directors Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz and Sikina Jinnah, as well as faculty, staff, and campus administrators who are dedicated to diversifying leadership in the academy by supporting historically marginalized doctoral students, postdoctoral scholars, and early career faculty. In 2022-23, the Center’s first-year Cota Robles/Doris Duke (CR/DD) pilot support program provided social, financial, research, teaching, mentorship, and writing support to UCSC Cota Robles and Doris Duke fellows.

This pilot program was a great success, supporting new and current Fellows with workshops, community events, regular advising and mentorship, and financial support. We look forward to continuing the program into the next academic year under co-directors Marcella Gomez (Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Baskin School of Engineering and Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics) and Lorato Anderson (Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Graduate Studies).

Anyone interested in learning more about this program can contact the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Graduate Studies at

Have a Wonderful Summer!