Meet the UCSB representatives for Graduate Research Advocacy Day

by Graduate Division Staff
Wednesday, March 13, 2019 9:00 AM

Every year, two graduate student delegates, along with their Graduate Deans, meet with local legislators in Sacramento to advocate for the support of UC graduate studies and research.

This year, Adriana Sánchez, a doctoral student ​in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, and Nicholas Huynh, a doctoral candidate in the Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science, will both represent UC Santa Barbara along with Dean Carol Genetti at the tenth annual Graduate Research Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 19.


Adriana Sánchez is a a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology. Her graduate research, under the guidance of her adviser Dr. Morgan Consoli, focuses on areas of resilience and thriving and their relationship to cultural variables with an emphasis on Latinx populations. She also works as a Graduate Student Mentor at the UCSB Transfer Student Center (TSC), where she works collaboratively with professionals and student staff on a variety of programs and initiatives.

Adriana hopes to advocate for more resources to support transfer students’ mental health needs; and to help foster more financial and academic resources to help students obtain their bachelor’s degrees, promote persistence, and increase retention rates​: “I would like to communicate how critical it is for faculty, staff, and institutions as a whole to use culturally sensitive approaches to mentoring, programming, and support initiatives,” she said​​​. "Taking into consideration the cultural variables and common values of Latinx populations, policymakers should be considering the support of these students’ psychological adjustment.”

Her research interests are motivated by her own personal experience as a transfer student during her undergraduate years. “As a counseling psychologist in training, my research focuses on the psychological resilience of Latinx communities,” ​Adriana said, “Latinx students are the largest minority enrolled at community colleges across the nation and especially in California — yet the transfer and 6-year graduation rate for a student who enters a CC before transferring to a four-year intuition is significantly low. My second-year research project/master’s project qualitatively investigated academic resilience and overall well-being for Latinx transfer students in their college experience as a whole.”


After earning a BS degree in aquatic biology at UCSB, Nicholas Huynh joined the Carlson group as a junior research specialist in the summer of 2013, a role that has given him valuable experience both in the laboratory and in the field. He has since remained a member of the group and as of the fall of 2014, he has pursued a graduate degree from UCSB’s Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science (IGPMS). 

His graduate school research focuses on collecting and analyzing data on marine microbes and the carbon that flows through them. “Marine microbes are a very important part of this planet because they are prolific and they are diverse,” he said. “They are probably one of the most successful groups of living organisms on the planet. It’s important to understand the interactions between bacteria and carbon that flows through them because it has consequential effects on the habitability of our planet.”

As one of this year’s Graduate Research Advocacy Day delegates, Nicholas hopes to highlight the importance of the graduate student workforce across the UC system. “The University of California is a hub for excellence in research, and that’s in part due to its dedicated graduate student body,” he said. “They are a highly-trained workforce who plan, execute, and analyze data from experiments, models, and field work. They represent a deployable unit in the research system that is able to respond quickly and effectively to situations that maybe staff and other faculty don’t have the time or flexibility for.”

As an example, Nicholas recalled his experience as co-chief scientist with recent Ph.D. graduate Kelsey Bisson on the research vessel Sally Ride, deployed right before the Thomas Fire devastated Central Coast communities in 2017. The crew rallied to gather valuable data not just for their own research, but also for the science community monitoring the effects of the fire on the environment. “We turned a terrible situation into something we can learn from,” Nicholas said. “We were able to adapt our plans, took on new personnel, got some new expertise, and redesigned things we were thinking about to effectively tackle some basic questions.”

Learn More
Watch the videos below to learn more about Adriana and ​​Nicholas and their research advocacy mission.