Student Group Spotlight – CBGSA

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The Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Student Association acts as a voice for our graduate student population by representing and promoting their interests as well as bringing them together for social and service activities.

The group aims to better the department, the university, and the community through leadership and service. They bring graduate students together for social and service activities, encourage student participation in outreach programs, and provide students opportunities to explore postgraduate opportunities. Overall, their goal is to facilitate interaction between students, faculty, and staff, for the betterment of the department, by increasing graduate student involvement.

The group was formed in 2012 by Dr. Thomas Cahoon, Director of Graduate Programs and Initiatives for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

CBGSA members visited a local middle school to inspire budding scientists by demonstrating chemistry experiments.

“Given the size of our department, we were lacking a general student organization to handle career, academic, community service, and social needs for our graduate population.” Dr. Cahoon said. “I envisioned that the CBGSA would partner with our own Organization for Cultural Diversity in Science (OCDS) as well as the Math and Physical Sciences Council (MPSC) on pertinent topics related to graduate life at UCLA.”

“As well as this,” continued Dr. Cahoon, “I envisioned the group would serve as a voice for the students, partnering with the chair on graduate issues. What started as a brainstorming meeting in Fall 2012 has grown into a viable campus-recognized organization, promoting graduate education in the sciences. The organization consults with faculty on various events throughout the year and members serve as ambassadors for the department. “

The next CBGSA event, a Post Ph.D. Panel, will take place in March 2016. “Three to four post Ph.D. panelists from various walks of life, including chemistry and biochemistry faculty, participate in this informal seminar style Q&A session.” said Benjamin Lesel, CBGSA’s Academic Events Chair. “Graduate students have a chance to gain insight and direction by learning the whys and hows of the panelists’ career paths. This is our 3rd year holding the Post Ph.D. Panel and graduate students and panelists alike have said that the event is a rewarding experience.” The governing group of CBGSA is Jessica Grandner (Outreach Chair), Elizabeth Guenther (Administrative Chair), Andrea Hadjikyriacou (Inter-Organizational Chair), Benjamin Lesel (Academic Events Chair), Kristofer Marsh (Finance Chair) and Dan Pazo (Social Events Coordinator). Their administrative advisor is Dr. Cahoon, and faculty advisors are Department Chair and Professor Miguel Garcia-Garibay and Vice Chair of Graduate Education, Professor Neil Garg. CBGSA Eyu
Members worked with children at the CBGSA booth at the 2015 Explore Your University event on campus. CBGSA organizes many other exciting events including:

  • The 2015 Research Pitch Competition in which graduate students competed by giving five minute “pitches” about their research to win travel grants for conferences.
  • Visits to local elementary schools to demonstrate chemistry experiments to students.
  • Industry and Academia Panels – faculty and industry scientists are invited to speak about their experiences in academia, industry, and the collaborative ground between.
  • Outreach and Diversity Days – prospective students from diversity-sponsored programs are invited to campus to learn more about graduate student life at UCLA.
  • Hosting seminars by prestigious visiting faculty and scientists.
  • Hosting a booth at the Exploring Your Universe event on campus.
  • Hosting year-end holiday parties, including an ugly sweater contest!

All UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate students are invited to join the CBGSA.  

For more information visit the CBGSA Facebook page.