The Berkeley Science Review recently organized its first major event as part of the Bay Area Science Festival. “Touch Me” featured late-show style interviews with researchers whose work focuses on the science of touch. The atmosphere was electric for the main event, as three speakers kept attendees—campus affiliates and community members alike—leaning forward in fascination. Who were these intrepid, engaging, and authoritative individuals? Were they Cal professors or LBL career scientists? Neither. In fact, all three were UC Berkeley or Stanford PhD candidates who captivated our audience with their knowledge, wit, and humor.
Across campus, graduate students are finding their wings. In our cover story Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Maria Alvarellos tells the tale of several grad-student-led grassroots organizations that have cropped up at UC Berkeley within the last year. These efforts have emerged in response to a dwindling academic job market and a surging realization among graduate students that they are among the brightest candidates for many career paths, whether the traditions of academia say so or not. Fortunately, university administrators and funding agencies, at Berkeley and nationwide, are showing signs that they are listening.
During my five-year tenure at Berkeley, this shifting identity has become increasingly more palpable and articulated amongst my peers and has now begun to coalesce into what feels like a bona-fide movement. In fact, a coalition of graduate students recently met one-on-one with the new UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks to discuss these very issues. I’m hopeful that this movement will foster new opportunities and partnerships between students and the administration, and will blossom to produce more actualized PhD cohorts that seamlessly transfer their passions and talents into careers that engage them, in academia and beyond. I’d like to dedicate Issue 25 to that idea and to the graduate students in pursuit of it.
Since its founding 12 ½ years ago, the Berkeley Science Review has itself been a demonstration of the immense talents of graduate students and postdocs at UC Berkeley. Peruse our archives and you’ll see that we’ve been producing engaging, accessible, and beautifully presented science journalism right from the start. I’m incredibly proud to have served the magazine and the BSR organization for three years and I have been blessed to work with some of the most impressive and passionate individuals I’ve ever met. We’ve had a lot of fun together.
I’d especially like to thank our Art Director, Asako Miyakawa and the design team for putting together another gorgeous issue, our Managing Editor Anna Vlasits for fundraising and keeping us on the rails, and our Webmasters Anna Goldstein and Chris Holdgraf for keeping the portal to most of our readers running so smoothly. I’d also like to thank Georgeann Sack for serving as our first Outreach Director this fall and helping us reach so many new people.
Starting with Issue 26, Alexis Fedorchak will take over my post as Editor in Chief. A PhD candidate in bioengineering and a veteran of the magazine, Alexis brings almost three years of experience as an editor to the job. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Alexis for the past five issues and I’m excited to see what her keen eye and great sense of humor will bring to the magazine in the issues to come.
Editor in Chief