My Core Class Experience in the College of Biological Sciences (First and Second Year)

For all majors in the College of Biological Science, there are some common preparatory major core classes that all students in CBS are required to take in the first two years of college. Regardless of your major, you will have to take calculus, chemistry, biology, physics, and statistics. These classes are important because they provide fundamental knowledge in the field of biological sciences. Before you start in-depth major classes, mastery in core classes gives you the essential tool kit.

I am currently a third year Genetics and Genomics major. In this blog post, I will talk about some core classes I took and my experiences in them.

MAT21AB: Calculus

Usually students in College of Biological Sciences take MAT17ABC to fulfill the math requirement. MAT17 is a year-long calculus class designed for biology students, featuring calculus applications in biology topics. MAT21AB, the first two classes of the MAT21 series, is an alternative option. Honestly, I chose to take MAT21A and MAT21B in my first year because I wanted to finish calculus in two quarters instead of three (which might not work for everyone). The two classes focused more on principles and theories, including solving proof questions and calculus equations. I took a light workload along with MAT21A and MAT21B, since I did not have much background in calculus.


The Calculus Room is a great place to get academic help besides the Student Academic Success Center and the Residence Hall tutoring hours.

BIS2ABC: Introduction to Biology

I really enjoyed the BIS2 series because the series includes everything from micro to macro. BIS2A is about cell organelles, photosynthesis, chemical bonds, and properties of bio-molecules. BIS2B is an introduction to ecology, evolution, and biodiversity. BIS2C focuses on phylogenies, the five kingdoms, and life cycles of fungus/plants/animals. Note that BIS2A and BIS2B can be taken in either sequence, but BIS2C has to be taken after BIS2B. In addition, it is recommended for students without a strong chemistry background to start with BIS2B.

Capture(My BIS2C study notes for the final)

CHE2ABC: General Chemistry

CHE2 lectures are always in big lecture halls with hundreds of people. It is one of the most commonly taken classes for first year students, since many majors have chemistry as a requirement. CHE2 series provided me a solid background in chemistry, which helped a lot in my upper division biochemistry classes. I also learned to use the titration apparatus, the pH meter, and other cool equipment in the labs. An alternative option for general chemistry is the CHE3 series (“Integrated General and Organic Chemistry intended for majors in the life sciences”), which incorporates water-based reactions and some organic chemistry. CHE3 is a relative new course, and only certain biology related majors accept it for major requirement. If you plan to switch majors, take CHE2 series for more flexibility!

Image result for titration memesGet ready for General Chemistry with your lab coat, goggles, and carbon notebook:)

CHE118ABC: Organic Chemistry for Health and Life Sciences

Students in the college can choose to take either CHE118 (a three quarter series) or CHE8 (a two quarter series). I took CHE118, since a year of organic chemistry is required for many medical schools. I personally think that organic chemistry (especially CHE118B) is one of the most difficult classes I have taken in UC Davis. The class is all about understanding how electrons transfer between molecules and memorizing different reaction mechanisms. It is like putting together pieces of a puzzle to get a full picture of chemistry – this class will definitely change your view of the subject on a molecular level. After all, organic chemistry is very different from general chemistry, since no calculation skills are required for the class. You might enjoy the class even if you are not a fan of gen chem!

Related image

Image result for aldol condensation

PHY7ABC: General Physics 

In PHY7 series, students spend 5 hours in Discussion Labs (DLs) and 1 hour in lecture every week. Most of the learning will happen in the discussion labs with your small group of classmates and TA. In the DLs, we did short experiments and discussed about the results with our small group. In PHY7A, I was tired with having two 2.5 hour labs every week, but as I moved towards 7B, and then 7C, I felt that the DLs gave me a better understanding on the lecture topics. I learned the best by solving questions, so the DLs matched with my learning style after I got used to it. Topics in PHY7 include: chemical bond energies and thermodynamics (7A), Newton’s Laws and circuits (7B), mirror/optical lenses and electromagnetic forces (7C).

STA100: Applied Statistics for Biological Sciences

STA100 is a very informative class, in which students are taught to analyze biology data with the statistics program R studio. In the first two weeks of class, the professor went over basic statistics including calculating the mean, medium, and standard deviation. Later, we learned more advanced concepts such as p values and the ANOVA table. There were two group projects in the quarter. We had to process a given data set (in my class it was about diabetes population) with methods learned in class and wrote two four-page reports. A few quarters after STA100, I joined a fish ecomorphology research, and our project was heavily based on data analysis. Thus, I really appreciated learning about R Studio in the class.


Linya Hu
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year, Genetics and Genomics Major

A Letter to My First-Year Self

Dear First-Year Katie,

With graduation less than 5 months away, I, Fourth-Year Katie, have been a ball of anticipation, excitement, fear, and nostalgia. All of this nostalgia has made me think about all the things I’m so grateful that you (we? I’m not entirely sure how to address a hypothetical first year Katie, but for ease of writing, let’s go with “you.”) did and some of the things that I really wish you had done differently. Because as much as I try to live a #noregrets life, I’d be lying if I said there aren’t a few things that I would change if I could go back.

As you know, you are currently Undeclared. Even though you were only technically Undeclared for your first year, I think it would be more accurate if you were Undeclared your entire college experience. You tried so hard to figure everything out so quickly! And let’s be real, you mainly declared your major your first year because you felt scared of being Undeclared when seemingly everyone else around you have their life planned out and you just wanted a path – any path. That path just happened to be becoming a Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major.

That being said, you did do a lot of valuable things to help figure out what you wanted to do – you spoke to peer and major advisors, chatted with professors, and tried out all the online tools like the “Major Exploration Tool.” But, it felt like that was all taking too long and you weren’t feeling much clearer, so you chose the major that seemed like would be the “best” choice for going to medical school. Here’s a little insight into the future though, you are finally going to take your first NPB class your junior year and you are really going to hate it. The crazy thing is that this isn’t going to be like organic chemistry where everyone is complaining about the course, all the NPB majors looove this class.

Thus, begin our mid-college crisis. Feeling more unsure about your path now than ever, you delved into the major exploration during your third year that I wish you had done earlier. You experimented with taking Nutrition, Psychology, Biochemistry and Human Development classes. Getting the more hands-on experience with different subjects was what you needed to feel more clear about where your passions were. Unfortunately, already being 3 years into your college career, your options for changing your major were a bit limited given that you did not want to (and could not afford to) stay longer than 4 years.

Luckily, you did find a major, Biopsychology, that you felt excited about and that wasn’t too challenging to switch into late in the game. Because of that change, you’ll even learn about and get an amazing research internship at the UC Davis MIND Institute. So all and all, things didn’t work out too badly for you/us.

A couple other quick pieces of advice: 1. Don’t pull so many all nighters! Trust me, you will burn yourself out. 2. Join more clubs! Joining Vision Dance Troupe was undoubtedly one of your best decisions of college. But, during your first year, that’s all you were really involved in and you felt a bit lonely, so find other activities to do – maybe stick with the gymnastics club this time. You weren’t very good, but it really was fun. 3. Finally, and most importantly, try not too stress so much. Now that college is almost over and it feels like these four years blew by, I wish I had taken more time to have fun, relax, and appreciate this experience, instead of rush through it.

Good luck and much love,
Fourth Year Katie


Katie Galsterer
BASC Peer Advisor
Fourth Year: Biopsychology major

Campus Food

Boasting the largest of the UC campuses, one would think that UCD would be hard-pressed to provide adequate dining opportunities for its ever-expanding population and across its sprawling campus. Yet, as I will highlight in this article, UCD has many excellent dining choices, whether you are looking for a full meal, a quick snack between lectures, or a cup of coffee before your morning lab.

Residence Hall Dining Commons


This is the most familiar dining option for students who lived in the residence halls. The dining commons are all-you-can-eat cafeteria style buildings located in each of the three residents halls.  Each DC includes eight mini-restaurants, which each offer a couple of choices on any given day. Vegetarian and vegan options are always available. The menus change daily, and you can see the menus from each DC on the housing website. In addition to hot meals, the DC (almost) always stocks ice cream, cereal, and fruit. It has been a couple years since I have been there, but late night (~9PM-12AM) was always the most happening time at the DC, when fresh-baked cookies are available in addition to pizza and other late-night munchies.

For students without a meal plan or AggieCash: fear not! The DC accepts cash and card too.

Residential Markets

Nearby each DC is a market that offers typical convenience store snacks and drinks, in addition to smoothies, caffeinated shakes, and grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, and more. The markets also stock basic first aid, personal care, and hygiene products if you are in need of something and on campus. The residential markets’ hours vary slightly depending on the residential area, and all hours can be found on the student housing website.

The Gunrock


Once named the Gunrock Pub, and the only place on campus to crack a cold one, “The Gunrock” is now a dry establishment, but it still has a mouth-watering menu. The Gunrock offers a sit-down restaurant environment with the convenience of being located centrally on campus in the Silo. The Gunrock accepts reservations, which is helpful for planning lunch with friends or making sure you make it to class on time.

The Silo


In addition to The Gunrock, the Silo is home to several other restaurants. Spokes Grill offers burgers, fries, and shakes. La Crepe offers authentic French crepes, and is run by the same owner of the Crepe Bistro, a very popular restaurant downtown that closed after suffering damages in a fire. Once famous for its french onion soup as well as crepes, Davis localwiki describes La Crepe as a “small rendition of what the Crepe Bistro used to be, minus the soup”. The Silo also houses a Peet’s coffee, and a selection of grab-n-go meals.


As all UCD students know, the construction and renovations on campus seem never-ending, but sometimes they result in new eateries that open under the radar of most of us. Most recently, the Silo Market opened, featuring a new made-to-order pizza place and a sandwich deli. The Silo Market otherwise is similar to the residential markets, offering soft drinks, candy, and snacks, although with more variety.

ASUCD Coffee House

Located on the North quad, the Coffee House is one of the most popular eating spaces on campus. It has a selection of student-staffed restaurants, including pizza, TexMex, bagels, sandwiches, and more. Of course coffee and baked goods are available.


In addition to the eponymous Coffee House, there are places to get coffee all over campus. There are Peet’s in the Silo, the ARC, and outside King Hall. My favorite coffee stop on campus, however, is Bio Brew. Bio Brew is located on the 1st floor in the Science Laboratory Building, just inside on the North side. Just next door, you will find BASC! Stop by and say hello to a peer advisor!

Scrubs cafe

If you find yourself hungry but you are all the way in the Health Sciences district, there is no need to walk 40 miles to the Silo for a sandwich. The Scrubs cafe is conveniently located on Garrod drive next to Vet Med Student Services, and serves coffee, breakfast, and lunch items.


Food Trucks

UC Davis is visited daily by a caravan of food trucks of different styles, which take up residence at various spots around campus. The most food trucks can be found lined up outside the Silo next to the Bike Barn. Other locations are between Science Lab Building and Storer Hall, outside the Mondavi center, and by Medical Sciences in the Health Science district. Shah’s Halal is a campus favorite, but I suggest trying them all. My personal favorite are the fish tacos from Azteca Street Tacos. Food truck schedules and locations can be found online.


Hopefully you are hungry now after reading this. Go out and try some new UCD cuisine!

Justin Waskowiak
BASC Peer Advisor
3rd Year: Evolution, Ecology, & Biodiversity major

What is My Degree and How Do I Use It?

Beginning Fall Quarter 2017, UC Davis began using My Degree, a streamlined online advising tool that can be used to track students’ progress towards degree completion and plan future quarters. Staff advisors can also use it to certify a student’s degree when graduation rolls around. Using My Degree, students see what the advisor sees, eliminating the degree progress obscurities of the not-so-distant past and allowing students to check their own degree progress any time, anywhere. However, only a staff advisor can input exceptions and class substitutions for degree requirements. Please note that My Degree is not an official degree check and it is not equivalent to seeing an advisor.

DISCLAIMER from the University Registrar: “My Degree is not a replacement for academic advising nor does it override any decisions made by academic advising units or Dean’s Offices. The My Degree audit is not an official confirmation of degree completion, and it is not an official transcript.”

Degree Audits

My Degree refreshes nightly with a new degree audit. An audit provides an estimate of the progress made towards degree completion and shows what courses and requirements are still needed for graduation. If any changes are made to your student record after the Last Audit, you can manually select “Process New” to update and include any new information. Using the “Format” dropdown box, you can also change the view mode to “Graduation Checklist” or “Registration Checklist,” which shows all your courses being used towards your major and the courses still remaining/needed for your major, respectively.

New Major vs. Old Major Requirements

Many majors in the College of Biological Sciences recently underwent major changes. For example, Biological Sciences no longer requires an emphasis, and Neurobiology, Physiology, & Behavior now has three separate tracks. My Degree may be set automatically to the major requirements from the catalog year that you entered with, but if you entered UC Davis before the changes to the major, you are entitled to the requirements of either the old major, or the new major. (Reminder: you must follow only one and cannot mix-and-match different requirements!)

For graduating seniors following different major requirements than what they started with, it can be a little panic-inducing to log onto My Degree one quarter before graduation as a last-minute check of degree completion and see that the progress bar shows only 70% complete. No worries! My Degree is likely set to an older catalog year. You can see your progress with more recent catalogs by using the “What If” function and selecting a different catalog year. Of course, it is still strongly recommended to make an appointment with your major advisor for a final, official degree check as you approach graduation.

Plan Ahead

When it comes time to choose new classes, you can input them into My Degree to see what requirements they fulfill in two ways: using the “Look Ahead” function, or using the “Choose Your Future Classes” option through the “What If” function. This is extremely helpful in creating plans for GE or major courses.

Again, keep in mind that My Degree is just a supplemental tool and is not intended to replace advising. Please still see your advisor for your final degree check. Otherwise, have fun playing around with this new, convenient tool!

For more information and tutorials on how to navigate My Degree:

Amanda Dao
BASC Peer Advisor
4th Year: Neurobiology, Physiology, & Behavior Major, Art History Minor

Students Perspectives – Studying Abroad

study abroad.jpg

As a study abroad returnee, I can honestly say that choosing to study abroad was one of the best decisions that I made during my undergraduate career here at UC Davis.

There are over 300 programs offered though UC Davis Quarter Abroad, UC Davis Summer Abroad, UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) and Independent Study Abroad. This blog will focus on the UC Davis Quarter Abroad and Summer Abroad programs. With so many programs offered, at first, the process of choosing a program may seem like a daunting task. It’s important to take the time to ask yourself why you want to study abroad and what you want to get out of the experience.

Below are a few fellow students’ perspectives on their study abroad experiences including why they chose to study abroad, reasons they picked their specific program, how their experience influenced the way that they see themselves/ the world and some of their favorite memories from their respective study abroad experiences.

UC Davis Quarter Abroad Programs:

Latinx Health Internship Program
Oaxaca, Mexico

IMG_5504Joanna Muñoz is a 5th year, Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and Chicanx Studies double major. During Fall Quarter of 2016, Joanna studied abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico. In the future, Joanna aspires to apply to medical school and become a physician that provides care to underserved communities. Below is a outline of her experiences.
“I chose to study abroad because I wanted to experience something different. Being a student in STEM can be often be very overwhelming so I sought to enhance my studies outside of the science classes I was taking on campus.

I had heard a lot of positive feedback from my friends who were previously enrolled in the Latin(x) Health Internship Program in Oaxaca. The way they talked about their experience abroad made me want to do the same program. Like my friends, I am interested in pursuing medical school after my undergraduate career and I wanted to become more culturally competent. I was eager to learn about the prominent transnational health issues and participate in clinical rotations in not only the clinics, but also the hospitals of Oaxaca.

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My time abroad changed my life. Studying abroad in Mexico –the motherland of my parents– strengthened my dedication for my community. Seeing a physician raise awareness about important healthcare issues and then facilitating presentations myself, made me want to become an advocate for underserved communities. Being confused for a doctor and being addressed as Dra. while studying abroad has motivated me to persist until I make my M.D. a reality. Furthermore, learning about the health disparities between Mexico and the United States motivated me to learn more about the history of Mexican-Americans in the United States. As a result, this past Spring Quarter I declared a double major in Chicanx Studies.
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Some of my favorite memories include walking along the streets of Oaxaca, alongside my friends who are now like my second family, running into the oh so popular calendas (parades) in front of Santo Domingo (one of the main churches in Oaxaca City), going to the mercado (market) for some hot chocolate, being able to watch a natural birth and a cesarean section, and singing “Adios Mosquito” to a class of elementary school students in an effort to teach them about the tropical disease of dengue.”

Italian Language & Culture in Florence       Florence, Italy


Carlotta Sainato is a 4th year Biotechnology and Italian double major. In the Fall of 2016, Carlotta studied abroad in Florence, Italy.

“I decided to study abroad because I had heard incredible stories from friends and other students who had studied abroad, either in the program that I did or other programs. I knew studying abroad would help me develop my language and conversational skills and help me really experience and integrate Italian culture into my life. Also, it was an opportunity to live in a completely different part of the world and visit other countries that I’d never seen. IMG_1051

I chose my program (Italian Language and Culture in Florence, Semester Abroad) because I had been taking Italian classes at UC Davis and discovered how much I enjoyed learning the language and culture. I am half Italian, so I have always had an Italian identity, but really delving into the classes helped me strengthen that. I knew going to Italy for a semester would help me connect with my roots in a completely unique way.

IMG_2175My experiences gave me a lot of insight into what other countries were like and their cultures. I definitely feel like I have barely scratched the surface in terms of learning about other countries, it has opened my eyes to how beautiful and rich they are in culture, and it has inspired me to travel more and explore the world as much as I can.

Some of my favorite memories from studying abroad were when I was traveling, both in and out of Italy. Visiting an old friend in Copenhagen, exploring the Roman forums, and roaming throughout the Parisian streets were just some of those incredible memories. A few of my favorite memories were also the amazing people I got to meet and get to know through my program.”


UC Davis Summer Abroad Programs:

Genetics – The Global Language of Biology Austria, Czech Republic, UK, Sweden


Geoffrey Osgood is a 4th Year Animal Biology Major. In the summer of 2017, Geoffrey studied abroad in Austria, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

“I studied abroad because I wanted the opportunity to experience new cultures, make some new friends, and see what sort of options there were for a biology major outside of the United States.

I chose my particular program because it helped fulfill some of my major requirements, went to interesting countries, and went to multiple countries. Since my free time over the summer was limited, the last part turned out to be a major selling point because it allowed me to see a wide variety of cultures and locations in a short amount of time.

Studying abroad helped me learn that even though we might have cultural or language differences with other nations, at the end of the day we are really just people and have a lot more in common than it may first seem. It also helped foster a sense of self confidence because I saw that I could function by myself even when I didn’t know a language or was in unfamiliar surroundings.

There are so many fond memories I have of the trip, but I really enjoyed walking around the public gardens during the evening in Vienna, having a Great Hall dinner at Cambridge, and kayaking around Stockholm.”

Life Sciences
Kyoto, Japan

Carrie 2

Carrie Sun is a 4th year Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior major with a minor in Dramatic Arts. Carrie studied abroad in Kyoto, Japan during the Summer of 2016.

“My decision to study abroad primarily started with a Japanese travel food guide that my housemate had bought. They were  already enrolled in the Japanese summer abroad program! After glancing through the book once, I fell in love with the food and culture in Japan. At that moment, I was thinking wouldn’t it be great to travel and learn at the same time. As a result, I considered the summer abroad programs that were offered in Japan. Instantly, I found studying BIS 102 in Kyoto, Japan. I know this is going to be an amazing opportunity for me to go out and see the world.

There were two main reasons why I chose to study abroad in Kyoto, Japan. First,
BIS 102 was one of my major required classes to fulfill before I graduate.
Therefore, this would be an amazing opportunity to fulfill my upper division
requirements. Another reason was because of the food and culture in Kyoto, Japan.
Kyoto, within the Kansai area of Japan, is considered to be the capital of culture and tradition in Japan with so many different temples to explore. Carrie 3

The study abroad experience in Kyoto, Japan was phenomenal because not only was I able to explore the Japanese culture with my fellow classmates, but I was able to learn a lot from the Japanese students at Ritsumeikan University (private university in Kyoto, Japan where our classes were held). It was amazing how the thirty of us bonded within a few days into the program. Being abroad widened up my vision of the world. Often, we only vision the world through a single lens, either through television or the computer, but when you are physically there, you explore and learn from the environment around you. The world is full of different cultures, people, and background, so being able to be abroad for a month was an experience full of excitement. With this amazing study abroad experience, I am looking forward to traveling abroad to other countries.

Carrie 1.jpgSome of my favorite memories during the study abroad programs would have to be the field trips that we went on, the hangouts we had with the Ritsumeikan students, and the study sessions we had the day before the exams. One of my favorite field trips was when we had our first traditional Japanese bento box lunch. Within the bento box, there were a variety of different sashimi, vegetables, and mochi. Being able to try something new abroad was an amazing experience to gain. Next, one of my favorite hangouts with the Japanese students was when we went out for Okonomiyaki (Japanese Savory Pancake). Throughout dinner, we exchanged memorable stories and experiences we had in our lives as well as participated in cultural exchange. Lastly, the study sessions we had in our dorm before each exam was unforgettable. During each study session, the professor would come in with bags of Japanese snacks to feed our stomachs and, also feed our brains with all the information he wants us to remember. Being able to study together not only brought us closer, but also allowed us to ask questions whenever we were confused on a certain subject.”

Microbiology Lab in the Kingdom of Smiles                        Thailand


Cathy Tang is a 4th Year Animal Science major. In the future, she aspires to apply to nursing school. During the Summer of 2017, Cathy studied abroad in Thailand.

“Studying abroad started as a fun idea then a couple weeks into the quarter, it became a goal of mine to accomplish. I decided I wanted to get out my comfort zone. I hadn’t gone overseas for about a decade and everyone that has been abroad said that it was the best college experience they had. Ultimately, I chose to do it because I wanted to have fun and experience a new culture but still be on track academically so studying Microbiology in Thailand was the perfect route for me.

IMG_5502The program itself was relevant to my present and future. While Microbiology is a required course, visiting Thailand has always been on my list of places to travel to. And not only is it a course needed to graduate for my undergraduate studies, Microbiology is a course required for many of the Nursing programs I desire to apply to in the future. I looked more into the program and what sparked my biggest interest in the program was the opportunity to learn hands on laboratory techniques. During the time of my decision making, I just got accepted into working at the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and thought if I take this course prior to working in the lab, I would be more experienced.

IMG_5499I became more open minded and relaxed after studying abroad. Being in a country where you can’t speak its native language, you have to ask questions in order to get stuff done thus I greatly improve my communication skills. I normally stress very easily and make a big deal out of my insignificant problems but after my experience abroad I realized how small my problems actually are. While I stressed over exams and deadlines, some individuals I met in Thailand wished they had schoolwork to stress about. I became more humble and grateful for the life I have and not take things for granted.

IMG_5501My favorite memories abroad were actually the moments where my friends and I faced problems. I enjoyed solving it together and getting home in one piece. There has been countless time where we would be hours away from home and no taxis would take us back. The novelty of everyday was also something I find myself missing after my trip. My friends and I made it a goal to do something new everyday whether it’d be trying a new food spot or heading into the city to visit Chinatown, etc. Once I came back to California, I noticed how much more open I was to trying new things and thus feel more motivated about life in general.”

Public Health & Rural/Urban Medicine

Susie Leung is a 4th year Global Disease Biology and Environmental Science & Management double major. In the Summer 2017, Susie studied abroad in India.
“I chose to study abroad for a multiplicity of different reasons; personal development, learning a new culture, and education. I think the biggest factor that motivated me to study abroad was having the opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture, where I could experience and pursue my goals of public health outside the scope of the U.S.

Growing up watching Bollywood films and movies I was only able to view India through one lens. It was either portrayed as extremely impoverished or affluent, but it never captured the true beauty and culture of the country. So, I chose to go to India to experience not only it’s many attractions, but also to experience its rich and diverse cultures.

After going to India, I have a deeper appreciation for all the things Americans generally take for granted such as working roads, running water, and functioning infrastructure. I remember when I visited the slums families with nothing would offer me everything. With that being said, India has influenced me to be more thankful, positive, and selfless.
My favorite memories of India was interestingly visiting the slums and rural communities. Their selflessness and happiness always seemed to touch and surprise me. Of course I also enjoyed visiting the beautiful temples and architectural feats, such as the Taj Mahal.”


My Experience:

I am a 4th year Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior major with minors in Chicanx Studies and Spanish. I studied abroad in the Fall of 2017 in Oaxaca, Mexico.


In the Fall of 2016, I participated in the Latinx Health Internship Program in Oaxaca, Mexico.

During my first year mandatory advising appointment, I discussed with my academic advisor at the Biology Academic Success Center about my wanting to study abroad. After we discussed some of my interests such as Public Health, Medicine, Health Disparities and Spanish language, my advisor recommended the Latinx Health Internship Program in Oaxaca.

During the 11 weeks in Mexico, I had the opportunity to take UC Davis classes on transnational (US-Mexico) health issues, Indigenous Healing and Biodiversity in Latin America, Latinx Health Issues, Medical Spanish Language classes and participate in 180 hours of clinical rotations primarily in governmental primary care clinics. The courses offered provided relevant cultural competencies trainings that are integral for future health care professionals.

Our Altar and Tapete

There were so many fond memories that I have of Oaxaca. One of the highlights was definitely celebrating Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Our group constructed a traditional altar and also made a tapete to honor those that have passed away before us. We also had the opportunity to visit local cemeteries and experience some of the traditions that different families have.

I also had a wonderful time with my host family. When I first arrived in Mexico, I experienced culture shock. It was my first time in Mexico and all of my Spanish language speaking experiences had only been in the academic setting. At first, I struggled with everyday, casual language. My host family created such a welcoming environment for me and would always correct my Spanish every time I made mistakes. I really valued this because it really helped me to improve my Spanish to a more conversational level.

IMG_3309I am also eternally grateful to the professors, Dra. Adela de la Torre, Dra. Yvette Flores and Dra. Queta Valdez for their guidance and support throughout the program as well as for all the friendships that I made with others on my program. Boarding my flight to Mexico, I was nervous because I did not know anyone on the program. This quickly went away at orientation and bonds and friendships were quickly formed. I think of many of the people that I met on my program to be some of my closest friends and while in Oaxaca, they became my second family. This experience that we all share is something that, even one year later, we talk about every time we see each other.

I hope that this blog gives you a better idea about study abroad as well as a more in-depth glimpse into some of the study abroad programs that UC Davis offers! Below are some links to different resources that can help answer some questions that you may have!

Studying Abroad Programs for Biological and Health Sciences

Misconceptions about Studying Abroad as a Biological Sciences Student

Grant Tominaga
BASC Peer Adviser
4th Year Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior Major

Resources for Undeclared Students

Three years ago, when I entered UC Davis as an Undeclared Life Sciences student, I had no idea what I wanted to major in, what career path I wanted to pursue, or what I wanted to do with my life in general. My interests were very widespread and all over the place. One week I would be inspired by an article I had read about a new, groundbreaking biomedical device and would “decide” that I would major in Biomedical Engineering and the next week I would have a meaningful interaction with an academic advisor and decide I wanted to go into higher education and counseling.

While I only officially changed my major twice (first from Undeclared Life Sciences to Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and then to Biopsychology), I changed my mind about a million other times. While this time of exploration was exciting and having so many options felt freeing, I also really struggled with figuring out how I should go about making this decision and finding resources to help me determine my passions. Many of my conversations with Undeclared students in advising appointments center around this idea – that having so many major and career options is overwhelming and they just don’t know where to start.

If you are in the same boat as so many of us at UC Davis and are unsure about your major or future career, here are some difference resources that you can utilize to help aid your decision.

Major Exploration Tool

The major exploration tool is an online program that asks you to designate different academic and career-related categories you are interested in. Based upon your answers, it then generates a lists of majors that could be a good fit, the major descriptions, and links to their websites.

Major Card Sort Tool

The major card sort tool is an online program that gives you descriptions of various majors and asks you if you are interested, possibly interested or not interested in each description. Once you have responded to all the cards, a list of majors you would most likely be interested in will populate and you can explore the tool’s suggestions.

What can I do with my major or degree?

The Internship and Career Center houses the “What can I do with my major or degree?” web page which has a huge amount of data about UC Davis, the four colleges, and all of the different majors. It includes links to employment and salary statistics for UC Davis graduates.

Career Exploration by Interest Area

The ICC also has a page dedicated to information on different interest areas like Health and Medicine, Food and Beverage, and Biological Sciences. Each interest area has extensive information on related fields and careers, campus organizations, and professional associations.

UC Davis majors

This link lists all of the majors at UC Davis and provides information such as real world outcomes for the major, the requirements, the department website, and major advisor’s email.

Advising Resources:

Student Portal: The Online Advising Student Information System (OASIS)

OASIS provides links for advising, advising resources, important quarterly calendar dates, as well as various forms and petitions, along with GPA calculators and tools., is your personal academic advising tool.

Biology Academic Success Center (BASC)

Location: 1023 Sciences Laboratory Building

Contact Information: (530) 752-0410 or

Schedule an appointment:

Undergraduate Advisor (located at the Biology Academic Success Center)

Undergraduate advisors can evaluate draft study plans for proper course sequences and workload, perform degree checks, and provide information on university and college rules and regulations. Go to to schedule an appointment one of the undeclared program advisors.

Peer Advisors

As BASC peer advisors, we are all currently enrolled  in one of the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) Majors. We can help you with questions regarding courses and scheduling, filling out petitions, general education requirements, getting involved on-campus, and on-campus resources.

During the academic year, we are available daily for drop-in advising at the BASC from 9am-12pm and 1pm-5pm Monday through Thursday and 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm on Fridays. We are also available in the Academic Advising Centers in the Residence Halls for drop-in advising.

UC Davis General Catalog:

The catalog contains course descriptions from every department as well as important general academic information, college and graduation requirements, student rights and responsibilities and much more! The University publishes the catalog online: – familiarize yourself with it as much as possible.

Good luck with your decision! My biggest pieces of advice are to give yourself time and freedom to explore and to not get discouraged when you don’t like a class or major you thought you would. Knowing what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you do like.

Katie Galsterer
BASC Peer Advisor
4th Year: Biopsychology Major, Nutrition Science Minor

Plant Facilities of UC Davis

I am an Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity major and a huge biology nerd with a special passion for herpetology, but before going through the BIS 2C labs – tracing plant evolution from bryophytes through monocots, and studying the adaptations of the miraculous plant world – I had never bothered giving plants much thought. My eyes were opened as a 2nd year when I took BIS 2C. I am now a plant enthusiast almost as much as I am a snake enthusiast, and I credit UC Davis and our incredible plant facilities and collections on campus to sparking my interest. Here are a few of the many plant facilities that UC Davis has to offer.

The Arboretum

Probably the most popular plant exhibit on campus – the Arboretum is a long stretch of gardens, plant collections, and paved walkways along the pond where the North fork of Putah Creek historically flowed. Among their plant collections include the Shields Oak Grove on the West side of the Arboretum, with an astounding diversity of large oak species, and the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove, a perfect spot for a nicely shaded picnic near the Southeast side of campus. The Arboretum is lined with plant collections from around the world, including South American, Mediterranean, South West U.S.A./Mexican, East Asian, and California foothill collections. The Arboretum is open to the public all day, all week, and all year and seasonally holds plant sales. Last year I bought my first carnivorous plant at the Arboretum plant sales!

Plant Conservatory

Most of us are probably aware of the greenhouse on top of the Science Laboratory Building, but have you been inside? Did you know that the Science Lab greenhouse is just the start of what the UC Davis Plant Conservatory has to offer? The Plant Conservatory runs a lot of the campus’s plant propagation needs, including preparing divisions for the Arboretum plant sales. In addition to the Science Lab Building greenhouse, the Conservatory operates several greenhouses with an astounding collection of tropical and arid plants located behind Storer Hall. The greenhouses operated by the Plant Conservatory are open to the public for drop in hours during the day as well as guided tours – check the Center for Plant Diversity website for more information.

Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium

In addition to the Plant Conservatory greenhouses, the Center for Plant Diversity provides a great resource for researchers, amateur plant biologists, or anyone with a curiosity for plant identification. The Herbarium is a repository of over 300,000 preserved plant samples and lengthy species keys managed by UC Davis resident plant identification experts. You can take samples to the Herbarium for accurate identification, free of charge for the first 5 times each year. The Herbarium is now located in the Science Laboratory Building on the first floor, right next to the Biology Academic Success Center!

Other plant resources

The CAES greenhouses, west of campus by the stadium, are available to rent space through a simple google form.

The Plant Conservatory’s controlled environment facilities serve as an incredibly helpful research tool to plant, agriculture, and environmental sciences among others. These state-of-the-art climate controlled chambers are available to rent monthly.

Hopefully attending a school with such a strong reputation in agriculture and plant biology will instill in you an interest for plants like it did me. It’s a great time to start learn how to garden or pick up some interesting house plants. Here are my indoor plants I’ve collected since taking BIS 2C:

Justin Waskowiak
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year: Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity