Fall 2020 Welcome Message

Oct 16, 2020 | Faculty & Staff, From the Dean

To: All Divisional Faculty and Staff
From: Dean Paul Koch
Subject: Welcome

Dear Colleagues:

I am excited to welcome 1,486 new frosh and transfer students, 112 new graduate students, and 13 new faculty members to our division this year. They will be integral to our continued effort to support high-impact research and immersive student opportunities. Those experiences, especially in education, will be different this year, as fall instruction remains remote. Having myself taken up the challenge of online instruction to co-teach a course this fall, I’m awed by the creativity and determination of the faculty who pivoted to do this with a one-week notice in spring. When we are able to offer face-to-face instruction in the future, I’m confident that the innovations honed through our own immersion in 2020 will serve faculty and our students well. 

In the spirit of the new academic year, I want to share some changes happening in our division:


Join me in welcoming our new faculty members. Please introduce yourself and make them feel at home at UC Santa Cruz. They are a great asset to the division and campus—we are grateful they decided to join us.

Cluster hire in Global and Community Health to increase and accelerate diversity, research, and academic program building with the Social Science Division.

    • David Boyd (MCDB): Virology; PhD Univ. of Washington (starting July 2021)
    • Valerie Cortez (MCDB): Virology; MS Public Health Epidemiology & PhD Univ. of Washington (starting July 2021)
    • Sarah Loerch (Chem): Structural biology, cryo-EM; PhD Univ. of Rochester (started July 2020)
    • Michael Patnode (METX): Immunology, human microbial ecology; PhD UCSF (starting November 2020)
    • Laura Sanchez (Chem): Bioanalytical chemistry; PhD UCSC; Assoc. Prof. Univ. of Illinois, Chicago (starting January 2021)
    • Shaheen Sikander (MCDB): Stem cell biology; PhD UC Irvine (starting October 2020)

Target of Excellence hire

    • Carol Greider (MCDB): PhD UC Berkeley; Distinguished Prof., Johns Hopkins Univ., Nobel laureate (started July 2020)

Hires through our standard process

    • Guido Bordignon (MCDB): Teaching professor; PhD Univ. of Venice (started July 2020)
    • Kevin Bundy (Astro): Galactic evolution, instrumentation; PhD Caltech (started April 2020)
    • Giulia Gurun (MCDB): Teaching professor; PhD UCSC (started July 2020)
    • Nia Imara (Astro): Galactic evolution; PhD UC Berkeley (started July 2020)
    • Jesse Kass (Math): Algebraic geometry; PhD Harvard (starting July 2021)
    • Tamara Pico (EPS): Presidential Postdoc: Earth surface deformation; PhD Harvard (starting July 2021)


I want to acknowledge the deep contributions, hard work, and dedication of the faculty who retired in 2019-20. They have long been members of our community of scholars in the division. Join me in recognizing their service to the university and science, as well as the students they educated and empowered.

    • David Belanger, Physics
    • Jean Brodie, UCO/Astronomy
    • Michael Dine, Physics
    • Ólöf Einarsdóttir, Chemistry & Biochemistry
    • Howard Haber, Physics
    • Richard Montgomery, Mathematics
    • Michael Rexach, Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology


On September 8, we sent out a separate communication about new associate deans in our division. We also recognized the exceptional service of Professor Doug Kellogg and Professor Grant Hartzog as Associate Dean of Biomedical Sciences Research and Associate Dean of Academic Planning, respectively.

    • Lindsay Hinck, Associate Dean, Academic Planning
    • Christina Ravelo, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


We had many administrative transitions in the division this year. I especially want to offer my appreciation to the many dedicated staff members who retired or moved on to other positions after many years of service to the division.

Staff Retirements

    • Penny Ayers
    • Julie Barrett Heffington
    • Patti Schell
    • Paula Schneider
    • Jim Velzy

New Staff in Departments and Programs

    • Michael Brumm, Department Assistant, Mathematics
    • Brandon Day, Undergraduate Adviser, Physics
    • Lisa Stipanovich, Department Manager, Earth & Planetary Sciences
    • Sarah Thorne, Assistant Director, Fisheries Collaborative Program
    • Margaret Wuerth, Assistant Director, SCIPP

New Staff in the Dean’s Office/Business Offices

    • Sylvie Childess, Greenhouse Director
    • Jianna DeHoyos, Personnel/Payroll Specialist
    • Sergey Doronkin, Equipment Repair Technician supporting Science Hill
    • Rebecca Gartner, Personnel/Payroll Specialist
    • Emily Holmes, Personnel/Payroll Specialist
    • Joy Ishii, Divisional Curriculum Analyst
    • Margaret Mattson, Divisional Accountant
    • Isabella Porporato, Personnel/Payroll Specialist, SHR Liaison
    • Svitlana Ravnyago, Research Accountant
    • Scott Stalnaker, Executive Assistant to the Dean
    • Debbie Zenker, Assistant Manager, Research Accounting


In FY20, extramural awards totaled more than $82.0 million, an incremental increase over the previous year’s record of $81.8 million. The division received ~$25,350,600 in gifts (including some foundation and agency grants that overlap with the extramural awards total), including several significant gifts and myriad smaller gifts that supported departments, programs, and students across the division. 


In 2019-20, two new academic programs were approved. 

    • Mathematics Education B.A.
    • Mathematics B.S. 

Several degree programs will be submitted to the VPAA and Senate in fall.

    • Computational Mathematics B.S.
    • Five-year contiguous bachelor’s/master’s pathway in the Earth and Planetary Sciences M.S.
    • Materials Science and Engineering M.S. and Ph.D.

Currently, we are working on several academic program proposals. 

    • Astronomy B.S.
    • Global and Community Health B.S.
    • Microbiology B.S.

The Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL), in collaboration with the division of Physical and Biological Sciences, is excited to continue their support of STEM faculty through Teaching and Learning Community for STEM Gateway Courses (TLC-STEM). The TLC-STEM provides an opportunity for faculty teaching lower-division STEM gateway courses to think together about pedagogical practices that promote success and equity. In the given time of remote instruction, we anticipate this will include how to ensure inclusive pedagogical practices in remote platforms and how to design assessments that maximize student learning and support their academic integrity. The mission of the TLC-STEM program is to provide a sense of community and a place to both receive and give support for those who teach these challenging, large-enrollment, lower division or high barrier upper division courses. In recognition of the performance disparities in these STEM courses, we envision this learning community as a place where faculty can come together to discuss common challenges and solicit shared solutions that can be directly used in their courses.

Cal Teach provides K-12 school-based internships and complementary coursework for the science education major, the mathematics education major, the STEM education minor (Education), and STEM undergraduates who wish to explore teaching careers. The program also provides paid summer teaching and lab internships for prospective K-12 math and science teachers and, through NSF Noyce Teacher Scholars grants and private donor contributions, has funded over $2,250,000 in scholarships for more than 125 Cal Teach participants in UCSC’s M.A./teaching credential program since 2007. Over 1,000 undergraduates have participated in Cal Teach since the program began in 2006; over 30% of participants who have graduated have pursued K-12 teaching careers, and more than 30 Cal Teach student participants are currently teachers in Santa Cruz County schools, with many more teaching in Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, and other nearby counties. In summer 2020, twenty advanced students participated in virtual internships hosted by partners, which included the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Santa Cruz City Schools, Cabrillo College, Hartnell College, and San Jose City College. Cal Teach is eager to place future teachers in lab internships; interns have most recently been hosted by Professors Rita Mehta, Phoebe Lam, Beth Shapiro, and Grant Hartzog. In 2020-21, Cal Teach courses and internships will be virtual, with introductory CaT1 courses and internships offered in fall and winter, and advanced CaT2 and CaT3 courses and internships offered in winter and spring, as usual. 

The Academic Excellence (ACE) Program is designed to increase the diversity of students graduating with STEM bachelor’s degrees at UC Santa Cruz, and ACE serves its mission by offering supplemental active learning sessions, peer mentoring, and community building to students enrolled in a subset of STEM gateway courses. In 2019-20, ACE served more than 700 unique students and had more than 1,200 enrollments in problem solving and mentoring sessions. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ACE launched their first ever 100% virtual problem solving and peer mentoring sessions during spring 2020, and funding from the HSI SEMILLA Grant and CARES Act allowed ACE to support 10 virtual UC Santa Cruz summer session courses, which served 99 unique students. ACE also teamed up with faculty from across the science division to collaborate on developing digital engagement curriculum for remote learning in specific STEM courses this fall. Finally, ACE partnered with with student-facing and faculty-facing units across campus to help design and facilitate workshops on equitable, evidence-based pedagogy, including the New Faculty Institute, the CITL/HSI Inclusive Pedagogy Workshop, the GEOPATHS Virtual Facilitation workshop, the ACE Student Staff Training & Development, and the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology TA training. During this tumultuous year, ACE has provided a consistent and supportive space for community building, innovative curriculum development, and academic support. As fall quarter begins, ACE will continue to play this important role by supporting 15 high stakes STEM courses across PBSci and BSOE, including inaugural computer science sessions.

The mission of our STEM Diversity Office is to promote diversity in advanced degrees and to foster future leaders in STEM through paid research training opportunities, professional development, mentoring, and academic support. The STEM Diversity Offices provides holistic support, fostering a sense of belonging, helping to build community, and preparing students for graduate program admissions. We currently support 40 undergraduates, 6 postbaccalaureate, and 10 graduate students plus 100 undergraduate student affiliates and 30 graduate student affiliates. This academic year we look forward to recruiting diverse talent at SACNAS and ABRCMS virtual national conferences and supporting more than 50 students in conference travel. Additionally we will support the CAMP and UC LEADS UC-wide virtual symposiums in February and March respectively. We have been successful in fundraising $12,600 for our SACNAS student chapter and will fundraise this April for our “Plant the Seed for Big Dreamers” project that supports our undocumented students. Our hope would be to have an in-person STEM Diversity Alumni reunion but, if not possible, we will look into the possibility of hosting a virtual reunion this spring or summer.


We finished FY20 in a good financial position, however we will still be operating with a tight bottom line in FY21, especially in light of impending budget cuts. Faculty recruitment costs, IT infrastructure support costs, matching funds for research grants, and general operational expenses continue to be our largest outlays of flexible funding. We have been successful in partnering with the CP/EVC’s office and other central units to support recruitments and initiatives that will have positive impacts on our division for years to come. We plan to continue working closely with campus to achieve our long-term divisional goals and maintain the financial health of the division and departments.


This past year, the new divisional website employing our High Impact Science theme and our intranet (Toolkit) have grown, and work has begun on integrating departmental websites into the new format. We have also made gains in expanding our digital marketing and social media presence. Associate Director of Communication Ryan Kallabis has moved on to be director of communications for the Giant Magellan Telescope, so our progress will be slowed until we can replace him.

In closing, I wish you all a successful academic year and I again thank you for all the hard work you do to support the continued success of our people, our division, and UC Santa Cruz.


Paul L. Koch
Dean, Physical & Biological Sciences
Professor, Earth & Planetary Sciences

If you have any questions or comments, please contact dean.science@ucsc.edu