After decades nurturing future leaders in science and engineering, in 2010, Fiona Goodchild founded the Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships (CSEP) at UC Santa Barbara. The center in 2022 announced a new mentor leadership program and now, its first graduate fellow, Allison Chau, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Materials Department.
“A mentor opens doors to younger students and colleagues by advising them about their shared context and culture,” said Goodchild. “In science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the mentor can also encourage students to engage in discovery and make progress as a researcher. A mentor needs to be able to explain a specific topic under investigation as well as to communicate about the broader challenges and rewards of working in the science and engineering enterprise.”
Chau, a researcher in Professor Angela Pitenis’s Interfacial Engineering Lab, says she might not have gone to graduate school if she hadn’t been guided by great mentors during her undergraduate education. “For a lot of students, the experience that you have in the lab really kind of dictates how you might view graduate school,” she said.