UCR Graduate Students Advocate for Research in Sacramento

Importance and impact of research the subject of meetings between students, deans and legislators

Graduate stude

Graduate students Gabrielle Goodman (left) and Adrienne Mora (right) met with California State Senator Bill Emmerson during Graduate Research Advocacy Day on March 14.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — A pair of University of California, Riverside graduate students were among 20 delegates who traveled to Sacramento on March 14 to lobby state legislators on the significance of the research conducted by graduate students during the third annual Graduate Research Advocacy Day.

UC Riverside graduate students Gabrielle Goodman and Adrienne Mora joined Graduate Dean Joseph Childers and met with a variety of state officials, including Senator Bill Emmerson, whose 37th district includes UC Riverside. Graduate students and deans from each of the 10 UC campuses attended the day-long event.

Dean Joseph Childers

Dean Joseph Childers

Childers said that the event was a key opportunity to show legislators the importance of graduate student research, not only to the future of the University of California, but to that of the state and the nation as well.

“Many of our state officials may have lost sight of what makes the University of California the premier university system in the world – the research aspect of our mission,” Childers said. “The training of graduate students, in everything from the visual arts to particle physics, is fundamental to UCR’s success as a research university, and it is vital that those who make decisions about how education is funded in our state understand the absolutely integral research role of graduate students in an institution like UCR.”

Childers said that Mora and Goodman were outstanding ambassadors for UCR.

“They were articulate, poised and impressive,” he said.

Goodman, a bioengineering student who works with Assistant Professor Masaru Rao, is working on an affordable and easy technology to deliver life-saving polio vaccine to people in developing countries. She presented her research, titled “Development of a Microfluidic Drug Delivery Device for the Intradermal Inoculation of the Poliovirus Vaccine” to officials in 11 different offices.

“I was excited and a bit anxious to present my work, but by the third or fourth meeting, I began to have fun discussing what I do on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “The legislators were very attentive and asked insightful questions. Some were unaware of just how involved graduate students are in shaping and changing the course of research that not only impacts the state, but also impacts the lives and environments of individuals worldwide.”

banner for Graduate Research Advocacy Day

Each of the 20 graduate students participating in Graduate Research Advocacy Day had a banner that detailed their research.

Mora said that she found the experience at the capitol to be “very inspiring.”

“I felt that a number of legislators really cared about research and education in California,” she said. “Several legislators were UC alumni and shared their own reflections on their education and the importance of preserving the UC system.”

Mora, who is finishing work on her Ph.D. in biology with a focus on parasite ecology and animal behavior with Professor Marlene Zuk, said legislators were attentive and asked many questions about her research following her presentation, “The Beneficial Role of Parasites in Coastal Ecosystems.”

“I was surprised about how engaged and friendly people were. They took time to listen to our message and responded well,” she said.

Goodman said that she also learned something from the experience, saying that the rapid-fire presentations were unlike the “15-minute PowerPoint presentations with visual aids” that she and her peers typically use.

“I had to think quickly on my feet to communicate my research in a concise and effective manner, using only my words and hands to make the point to policy makers who were often short on time,” she said. “Being able to persuade someone on the importance of your work and get their buy-in is critical. I’m glad to have had this first-hand experience at Graduate Research Advocacy Day.”

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