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May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Competition Heats up for UC San Diego's Graduate Student Recruitment

Graduate student Katrina Gooding Petersen spent a week with a grassroots group called the Louisiana Bucket Brigade studying how smartphones, GPS devices and other technology were used to collect and share information in the midst of a crisis. Now, she is working with the San Diego Red Cross to implement new disaster-mapping software so that they can better prepare for disaster response.

A Ph.D. student in communication and science studies, Petersen focuses on how information is used to provide the best maps and resources for dealing with disasters. Like many other UC San Diego scholars, she seamlessly merges high technology with a powerful sense of humanity.

"It is thrilling to watch as Katrina finds new ways of putting together areas of scholarship that usually are not drawn together," says David Serlin, associate professor and chair of the UC San Diego Department of Communication.

Graduate students are vital to the success of top-ranked institutions such as UC San Diego. They generate new knowledge that will benefit humanity, create new companies and jobs, and help solve 21st century global challenges.

Serlin notes that fellowship support is critical for UC San Diego to attract and retain top graduate students, like Petersen. "The only reason we lose top graduate students is financial. It's not for lack of faculty and programs, of which we have the highest caliber, or that we lack an extraordinarily rich intellectual graduate student culture. It's that we can't offer the kind of financial packages that our peer institutions can."

As state and federal government funding decreases, private support for students is becoming increasingly important to the strength of the institution. UC San Diego is challenged to compete for the best and the brightest graduate students when peer institutions can offer more generous financial packages. The campus loses outstanding graduate students to Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University and University of Southern California, among other institutions, because they can offer larger fellowships.

"To continue the campus' transformative impact as one of the top public universities in the nation, it is urgent that we grow the population of graduate students," says Kim Barrett, dean of Graduate Studies. "They are the lifeblood at UC San Diego."

To ensure that the University can continue to attract top minds, the campus is urgently focused on raising funds for graduate fellowships. For more information or to make a gift, please visit inventthefuture.ucsd.edu.