Updated: Call for Self-Nomination – PBSci Undergraduate Work-Study Research Initiative

May 7, 2021 | Faculty & Staff, From the Dean

To: All Divisional Faculty
From: Dean's Office
Subject: Call for Self-Nominations

Physical and Biological Sciences


Call for Self-Nominations for Three Faculty Facilitators

The WSRI is a new program that will be launched this year. We seek three faculty facilitators to help run the WSRI. These appointments will begin Summer 2021 through Spring 2022. Summer commitment is minimal given that work-study jobs start Fall and remain active through spring. Each faculty facilitator will receive $2000/year.

Interested faculty should submit a self-nomination. Questions can be directed to Peter Weiss (pweiss@ucsc.edu) or Christina Ravelo (acr@ucsc.edu).

What is the WSRI?

The Divisional Science DEI Committee has initiated the WSRI to engage students with workstudy awards, in scientific research, integrate them into the STEM culture, and provide an opportunity to deepen their knowledge in their chosen discipline. The Committee recognizes that many low-income students at UCSC with work-study awards have declared a major in the Physical and Biological Sciences (PBS) division (830 in the year 2019). Yet, the number of opportunities for these students to have meaningful work in scientific research is much lower. Therefore, this initiative seeks to build support for faculty PIs to receive peer-to-peer mentorship training, hire and retain work-study students to have a meaningful research experience. In addition, the initiative supports students by creating a community of scientists for the students to facilitate their growth professionally and personally while earning money.

Program Elements

Student Mentorship
Besides creating meaningful research opportunities that can provide some financial stability, students must have a healthy support system. One way is through membership in the Research Affiliate for Diversity (RAD) program offered by STEM Diversity. Students who register for RAD will be provided with professional development workshops, networking, and tutoring. With access to these resources, not only will students grow as scientists but also as professionals.

Faculty Facilitators
An additional program element is faculty facilitators who will support both students in work-study positions and their faculty mentors (PIs). We envision three facilitators, one from each of these areas: Biomedical Sciences (MCD, METX, CHEM), Physical Sciences (PHYS, MATH, ASTR, CHEM, EPS), Environmental Sciences (EEB, OS, EPS, METX) who have had prior experience working with and mentoring work-study students in their labs. To help foster community among the work-study researchers, these facilitators will lead one meeting per quarter to bring together student researchers for socializing, community building activities, and mentoring.

Faculty facilitators will also organize meetings with PIs once per quarter to provide a peer-peer resource. There are several goals of these meetings. One is to answer questions for other PIs who are thinking about hiring work-study student(s). Another is to conduct mentorship training through CITL and talk about mentoring strategies, such as guiding students from lab assistants to senior thesis students. Mentorship is a key tool for success in creating a great lab environment for the PI and the student. These meetings will also seek to clarify graduate students’ roles in working with undergraduates in the lab to further encourage a good work environment. Finally, another aim of these meetings is to discuss opportunities for increased professional development and networking for students, for example, to attend undergraduate symposiums to share their research and experiences.

PBS DEI Committee
The PBS DEI committee’s role in the undergraduate work-study research initiative will be to select faculty facilitators annually based on a self-nomination process. The committee will also support the faculty facilitators by making recommendations and offering logistical support in its implementation. Support will include but is not limited to annual surveys to check programs’ progress and success. These surveys will allow the committee to make improvements and changes to the program deemed necessary. The PBS DEI Committee will conduct quarterly meetings with faculty facilitators to track progress, offer support, and address any concerns.


What PIs Need to Know
Work-Study is a program that allows employers to hire students with financial need at a reduced cost. The program pays one-half of a student’s wages, and the employer pays the remaining balance. The work-study program is a win-win for employers and students; it’s easy to navigate and has been shown to boost students’ retention. The program’s primary goal is to provide an incentive to employers to provide opportunities for students to obtain job experience in areas closely related to the student’s career or educational goals. The information on hiring work-study students is laid out nicely on the Career Center website Recruitment and Hiring. When a PI identifies a position they would like to fill and funding for the position, the PI creates an ER posting with a job description, emails their accountant to inform them, then selects a student from a list of applicants. The ER system website provides all the details in an easy to follow format ER System Help and Information. Many job postings are shown on the ER Website, which is good to look at before crafting a new job posting – see what is out there and how to advertise. Remember that the Career Center Team is available to help employers navigate through the system and help with all aspects of recruitment and hiring.

What Students Need to Know
Work-Study jobs are those that are partially subsidized for students with financial need. General information about the work-study program at UCSC can be found here: Work-study Employment Guide. Students that qualify for work-study can find information on the maximum amount of their award listed under “My Aid Award” on the FAFSA website. See this link for more details Work- Study/ Non-Work Study. The Career Center at UCSC keeps an updated list of work-study job listings: Work-study Job Listings. Keep in mind that just because a student has a work-study award does not mean they are guaranteed a job. Students have to apply, and sometimes the process is competitive. That is why it is essential to attend workshops on resume and cover letter writing, interviewing skills, networking, and meet with a career advisor. These are free services offered by the Career Center at UCSC.

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