2018 Incoming Grad Series: Melanie Adams

by Daina Tagavi, Professional Development Peer
Monday, September 24, 2018 9:54 AM

The 2018 Incoming Grad Series continues, featuring backstories and fun facts on 8 students who are part of our most diverse incoming class in recent memory.

Melanie Adams is an incoming Ph.D. in​ Mechanical  Engineering from Brooklyn, New York. She received her undergraduate degree from MIT, where she studied Materials Science and Engineering. The interdisciplinary research and diversity at UCSB drew her to continue her research as a Gaucho.

Read on to learn more about ​​Melanie's childhood in New York and about her travel plans during her graduate program! 


Melanie grew up in a matriarchal West-Indian home in neighborhoods that historically (and sometimes currently) get a bad rep. Her mom hail​s from Trinidad and continuously stressed the importance of education - if ​Melanie received a 98 on an exam, her mom's first response would be “where are the other two points?” Melanie says that her mom's dedication, along with her own, helped her get in to one of NYC's specialized high schools and her academic journey began from there. Once she moved on to college at MIT, she had doors opened for her and was able to travel and explore personal and academic interests.

Melanie also completed coursework at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. She then hopped over to Germany to complete the thesis portion of her degree. Later, she was able to continue working at the same institute for a year and use the experience to learn a bit more about German culture and travel.


Melanie chose UCSB primarily for the interdisciplinary research it offers, as well as to challenge herself in a new setting. Melanie says that UCSB has great labs, a diverse campus, and seems to provide a great environment for going through a tough PhD program. She also figured being in California would force her to develop skills that she has been putting off by living in larger cities, such as being able to do more than just survive in water and learning how to drive. Being on the west coast will also allow her to travel within the United States for a change.


Melanie always had interest in medical devices, but used the time after college to explore her interests in fields such as archaeology/art conservation and nanotechnology. After a recent diagnosis with a chronic but manageable illness, her interest was especially renewed as she herself is not happy with the devices available to her. As a result, her current research interests are in developing devices on the micro and nanoscale and how these can be implemented to further medical diagnosis and treatment.


Melanie enjoys Rueda de Casino salsa as well as bouldering and she is working up the courage to hopefully try activities like skydiving. While she is running out of time, Melanie has a goal to visit 30 countries before she turns 30. For now, she is more than halfway there and hopes to do a bit more traveling as a respite from the busy schedule of a graduate student. Before graduating or shortly after, Melanie hopes to use her time in this region to explore Oenology and become a wine sommeliere.

Welcome, ​​Melanie!

Be sure to subscribe to the GradPost and check back each day until the start of classes for the continuation of our Incoming Grad Series. Up next is ​​Evgeny Noi, an incoming ​student in Geography who ​comes to UCSB from Moscow, Russia.