In my time as a graduate student, I have had the awesome opportunity to contribute to an number of initiatives on campus. Indeed, I see my contributions to these efforts as a essential part what I do (although the incentive structure for a science career doesn’t reward these efforts much). Key takeaways:
- Early opportunities to participate and organize prepared me to take on more responsibility down the line (e.g. developing more complex programs).
- The majority of the battle is just showing up. Even though I don’t feel particularly qualified to do much of what I’ve done, there was nobody else to do it, so I stepped up. I hope that others can see how much they can accomplish by just showing up.
- While showing up is the first step, it is also crucial to spend time learning how we have come to the beliefs that we have and what we can do to change the negative ones (e.g. through seeking out the relevant knowledge from sociology, feminism, education theory, etc). This can be hard emotionally, but is crucial for developing being as effective as possible.
- Designing programs to help others has helped me tremendously.
If you are interested in hearing more, definitely send me an email and so that we can find a time to chat!
The Berkeley Math Tournament (2013 - 2016):
Roles: Problem Writer, Graduate Student Advisor for the Berkeley Math Tournament
Summary: As a high school student, I loved doing math contest problems. Solving problems that required creativity as opposed to memorization was critical to my intellectual development. As a Berkeley student, I contribute some of my time to organize these opportunities to learn for future generations. First, I have written challenging and exciting problems for the tournament. Second, I serve as an advisor to help make organization wide decisions. A summary of my involvement in the organization (BMT is the high school version and BmMT is the middle school version of the tournament):
- BMT - Spring 2013 - Problem Writer, Power Round Writer
- BmMT - Fall 2013 - Problem Writer
- BMT - Spring 2014 - Problem Writer, Graduate Student Advisor
- BmMT - Fall 2014 - Problem Writer, Graduate Student Advisor
- BMT - Spring 2015 - Problem Writer (Geometry), Graduate Student Advisor
- BmMT - Fall 2015 - Day of Runner, Advisor
- BMT - Spring 2016 - Day of Runner, Advisor
- BmMT - Fall 2016 - Day of Runner, Advisor
Respect is a Part of Research (2015 - 2016):
Roles: Facilitator and Mentor Training Coordinator
Summary: It is an inconvenient truth that sexual harassment has been and continues to be relatively common in the physics department (and many other academic departments). The goal of this group is to reduce sexual harassment in the department by running a workshop on appropriate graduate student conduct.
- In fall 2015, I was a facilitator during the workshop. This involved learning how to facilitate discussions about problematic situations. Further, we learned about the university procedures and how to respond when somebody comes to us with an issue.
- In spring 2016, I took on the role of organizing the training for the workshop. This involved collecting materials from previous years, and refining them (e.g. improving the support for how to conduct the workshop, and how a facilitator can be a useful resource for the community after the workshop is over).
- In fall 2016, we applied for, and received a grant in order to use a social norms change intervention in our department. While we are still working out the details of the campaign, the main idea is to offer a positive vision of what we want our department to be like (e.g. great physicists use their ability to question underlying assumptions of the physical world to question underlying assumptions about our social world).
The Berkeley Compass Project (2012 - 2014):
Roles: Teacher, Summer Program Assistant, and Mentoring Program Organizer
Summary: Compass is a undergraduate and graduate student association dedicated to promoting a diverse and inclusive community in the physical sciences. Since its inception in 2006, Compass has done this though a variety of efforts including mentorship programs, experimental physics classes, and a summer program. As a graduate student, I have had the awesome opportunity to work with the Berkeley Compass Project. This organization played an important role in helping me develop my ability to plan and execute on community improvement projects. Furthermore, in helping with these efforts, I learned a lot of useful things for myself (e.g. becoming more resilient to impostor syndrome, valuing work-life balance). I contributed to a variety of programs:
- I was a residential assistant for the 2013 Compass Summer Program where a diverse cohort of 20 incoming freshmen form friendships and learn about a fun scientific topic (our year was: how do we determine where sound is coming from?).
- I co-taught the 2012 Fall Compass Course on Building Scientific Models with John Haberstroh. In this class there are no lectures and students drive the development of the course. Three major focuses of the course were: effective communication and group work skills, consistent and critical self-reflection, and practicing working on real scientific problems.
- I directed the 2013-2014 Compass Mentoring program. In addition to pairing the 20 incoming students with graduate student mentors, I organized six mentoring workshops throughout the year with the help of some awesome Berkeley grad students. I also mentored a few students myself!
- In Fall 2015, I was a project mentor for the Compass Transfer Course. I helped undergraduate students do a literature review related to computational neuroscience. I’ve been working with one of those students for about a year now on research as well!