Skip to main content

Fellows 1999-2000

The Web and the University

Christian Erickson

The goal of my PFTF 1999-2000 project was twofold: the development of workshops to teach graduate students how to design websites, and organizing a panel that addressed the general impact of the Internet/Web on the university.

A website was established to provide access to and archive instructional material and I ran two separate workshops, each involving two instructional sessions (http://trc.ucdavis.edu/pftf2000/).

Both workshops assumed that participants were familiar with the use of basic Web browsers, but needed no previous web design experience. Participants were assigned server space so that they could continue to work on their designs after the workshops (which many are doing). Participants first designed a professional personal website using copies of their CVs and a copy or abstract of a research paper for the initial research related personal website, and then designed a course website, exploring possible Web assignments for students.

The second component of my Project was organizing a panel to discuss the effects of the Web on the university. UCD Campus Counsel Steve Drown spoke about intellectual property and copyright issues concerning course materials on the Web and the activities companies that post lecture notes without the University's permission Jeanne Wilson, Director of Student Judicial Affairs, examined the problems of cyber-plagiarism.

Incorporating technological innovations into the University is a complex task. My PFTF project has convinced me there is a need for a more systematic integration of the Web into the University, one that focuses on providing professors, TAs, and undergraduates with skills both to utilize and create content for the Web.

From ABD. to Ph.D.: Funding, Writing and Completing your Dissertation

Erika Frei

Many factors can delay or prevent completion of the doctoral dissertation: writer's block, isolation, lack of financial, departmental, or emotional support, demands of family or work. Valuable campus resources such as the Writing Center, the Learning Skills Center, the Counseling Center, the Women's Resource and Research Center, and the Internship and Career Center at UC Davis have not hitherto been linked with each other.

The project I completed with my PFTF colleague Estee Neuwirth has sought to link these various resource centers, thereby making them more readily accessible to graduate students. We organized three panel discussions, including panelists from throughout the University community: 1. Conceptualizing, outlining, and beginning a dissertation (CF) 2. The emotional stress of writing a dissertation (CF) 3. The mentor/mentee relationship (CF/EN)

The series provided a sense of community for participating graduate students by sharing concerns and enhancing resource center coordination, enabling students to anticipate future challenges and take advantage of the resources earlier and more effectively.

The panel/discussion series was well received and, gratifyingly, some of our efforts have been translated and institutionalized. An on-going workshop series, "From ABD to Ph.D," and a professional development symposium "Pathways to the 21st Century" for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars will start this Fall.

Working together with several resource centers on campus has given me valuable experience to help my future students make optimal use of university resources. I have also benefited from my work with Estee Neuwirth and believe this teamwork has rendered my PFTF experience more productive and meaningful.

Facilitating Institutional Memory: Week of Orientation and Welcome

Amy Lyn Gerbrandt

Because of the rapid turnover rates within the graduate student body, the institutional memory of graduate concerns, projects, and efforts at a system-wide level can be short-lived and fragmented. My project has been to implement three structural support systems to encourage constructive conversations among graduate students and administrative/support units across the UC Davis campus.

First, I negotiated an appointment increase for the incoming Graduate Student Assistant to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Chancellor. This includes a period during the summer in which the outgoing and incoming GSADCs will overlap and work together in a mentorship situation. This change in the GSADC's appointment will also increase the opportunity to meet many campus administrators and resource representatives during the summer, before the busier Fall quarter.

Additionally, I have organized what will be the first annual graduate student Week of Orientation and Welcome, a series of social and academic events for graduate students, their partners, and their families. The panels will range from mentorship to financial concerns, and activities include a rafting trip and a bike tour of campus. This series will introduce graduate students to information resources along with giving them the experience of a happy, healthy graduate student community from their first day on campus.

Pre-Doctoral Graduate Student Funding

Shawn G. Hayes

Extramural funding is essential for the success of graduate students and their program alike. Well-funded students allow graduate programs to offer prospective students larger stipends as incentives, and therefore attract the best possible students. In an effort to increase extramural funding for graduate students, I ran a series of workshops designed to assist first-year graduate students in applying for various funding opportunities open to them. In addition, I have helped to foster an attitude conducive to grant writing in the Graduate Group Complex.

First-year graduate students from various programs were enrolled in a seven-week grant writing workshop series where they worked with peers to develop a research proposal for predoctoral fellowship(s) and graduate student grants. A total of 27 students participated in the workshop series, with 20 proposals for grants or fellowships submitted to various agencies. In the Physiology Graduate Group, seven students submitted proposals. Three were successful in receiving funds for their research, which in turn encouraged continuing students to apply for funding at a higher rate than previously, with several students obtaining significant intramural and extramural funding. The PGG and other groups have started to institutionalize grant writing courses or workshops for their first-year and continuing students.

In addition, I organized a one-day application workshop for the competitive NSF and Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellowships for seniors in the McNair Scholarship Program (to be repeated this fall). I am currently developing binders with the help of students in the Division of Biological Sciences that list funding sources and specific grants for which students can apply.

Surveying the experiences of graduate students of color

Jeffrey Lowell Lewis

My goal was to assess the experiences of underrepresented minority graduate students at UC Davis in light of the impact of Proposition 209 on diversity and the paucity of information on this subject.

I conducted a pilot study to ascertain the experience of underrepresented minority graduate students at UC Davis. A survey developed by the ChancellorÕs Committee on Faculty Recruitment and Retention, to assess both the climate and environment for underrepresented faculty, was adapted for this purpose.

The survey included open-ended and scaled questions regarding climate and environment and experience at UC Davis, was mailed to all underrepresented graduate students and some majority students from a wide range of programs. An electronic version was also sent to each graduate program on campus. Twenty-six minorities and twenty majority students completed surveys. Of the respondents twenty-nine were women, seventeen men.

Initial findings included the following:

  • Women (minority and white) were more likely than men (minority and white) to rate the overall experiences of underrepresented minority graduate students as negative. Women reported more firsthand knowledge of prejudicial attitudes and behaviors by majority faculty directed at minority students than did men.
  • Women generally report having good experiences in their departments; however, minority women were considerably more likely to report negative experiences than white women.
  • Respondents from all groups generally agreed on the need for more aggressive action to increase diversity on campus, including: increased hiring of underrepresented faculty, diversity training workshops for faculty and students, and mentoring for underrepresented graduate students.

Preparing graduate students for professional presentations

DeeAnn Marie Reeder

In an effort to provide graduate students with skills to help them create and deliver effective professional presentations, I organized two workshops. The first, entitled "Making Effective Presentations I: Guidelines, Formats, and Delivery of Professional Talks" focused on what makes a good talk and what is involved in its preparation.

The workshop began with a presentation by me that covered many of the basics of effective presentations, including how to organize and present information and public speaking tips. I was joined by a panel of two faculty and a senior graduate student who assisted in answering questions, shared their experiences, and discussed how things might differ in their fields. Although the well-attended workshop was rated highly, it emerged that presentations in the humanities and the sciences differ drastically; any future workshops of this nature might best be split along discipline lines.

The second workshop, entitled "Making Effective Presentations II: Using Technology to Prepare Slides and Multi-media Presentations" provided hands-on experience at making effective visual aids. This workshop included a PowerPoint tutorial as well as information on what makes a good slide, how to scan other slides or photos, how to edit graphics, how to use a film recorder to shoot slides, and what resources are available on campus. The Department of Psychology graciously offered the use of its computer lab. Due to high demand this workshop was repeated four times with approximately 100 students participating. I was extremely pleased with the reception the workshops received and felt I had clearly identified a need within the graduate student community.

The "Expanding Your Horizons" Conference and the "Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Career Symposium"

Loret Ruppe

I was involved in two service projects as a Professors for the Future Fellow. For the first project, I worked with Professor Jeannie Darby (Civil and Environmental Engineering) to organize the Expanding Your Horizons conference held at UC Davis on March 25, 2000.

The goal of the conference was to demonstrate the types of highly challenging and rewarding careers open to women who continue their mathematics and science education and was designed to provide positive hands-on experience in math, science and engineering, foster awareness of the wide range of career options within these areas, provide opportunities to meet and interact with positive role models, and highlight the need to study math and science in high school. There was great interest in the event throughout the Central Valley and we were able to host 450 seventh and eighth grade young women for a morning of hands-on science, math, and engineering workshops (fifty in total, more than half of which were led by graduate students). The leaders were encouraged to develop activities within their specialties and were coached in effective techniques for engaging young women in this setting. Inspiring the curiosity and excitement of the young women in the workshops was cited by many of the leaders as highly rewarding.

I was also involved in the planning of the first UC Davis Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Career Symposium held May 6, 2000. A new initiative co-sponsored by the Internship and Career Center and Graduate Studies, the symposium provided graduate students and postdoctoral scholars with an opportunity to participate in interactive discussions on aspects of professional development with leaders within and outside of academia. Response to the conference was overwhelming. Participants expressed enthusiastic support for the program and many requested that the symposium be expanded for next year.

Co-administering the Program in College Teaching and exploring the development of learning communities in higher education

Kevin B. Wong

UC Davis' doctoral and Master's students who pursue successful careers in higher education strengthen the reputation of our campus. The Program in College Teaching (PCT) is designed for graduate students who are interested in academic careers and is typically undertaken by individuals seeking to enhance their personal and professional development as educators.

The Program is structured around a mentored teaching requirement and includes activities such as preparing to teach, accommodating diversity in the classroom, helping students outside of the classroom, academic integrity, continued professional development, understanding the academic career, and developing a personal teaching philosophy.

As a PFTF fellow I co-administered the Program in College Teaching, working with the 1999-2000 program participants as they developed their individual program activities, providing feedback on their teaching, conducting classroom visits, and co-facilitating 15 roundtable meetings on issues related to higher education. I also assisted the Teaching Resources Center in providing workshops and videotaping services to the general population of UC Davis Teaching Assistants.

I am grateful for the experience of working on the last full implementation of PCT. The program has attracted graduate students who see university-level teaching as a significant career goal. I sincerely hope that the Program finds a permanent home within the campus' academic infrastructure and will once again attract, cultivate, and prepare educators for the future.

An additional facet of my work as a PFTF fellow was the organization of a multi-campus workshop on the topic of learning communities in higher education. With the help of two PCT participants and faculty guests from California State University-Sacramento and the American River College presentations on student-initiated, curricular, and residential learning communities were given.