Why UC Davis?

When I was admitted into UC Davis in 2015 as a Genetics and Genomics major, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew no much more than it was one of the top schools in California with the nation’s best animal science program. Besides, I went to high school in Taiwan, so I never had a chance to tour the campus before the actual orientation. My first impression of UC Davis was that it was a huge school with a flat landscape and bikes everywhere. It reminded me of a huge city park in Taipei (the bikes, squirrels, trees, and grass areas).quad.jpg
Now in my junior year, I will say that I really enjoy my experience in UC Davis. I love the place, the people, and my major. There are many opportunities in UC Davis to explore your passion and to develop yourself professionally and spiritually. Although there were definitely hard times in college, I was able to make through with the support of friends and community.
Here are some things that I love about UC Davis:

Nature 

– There are many animals on campus. One night, I saw an owl standing on my path when I was walking back to the dorms. My favorite animals are the cows next to Tercero and the lamas at the Vet Med Teaching Hospital.

– When I am tired from school and studying, the Arboretum is a great place to walk around and relax.
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– Enjoy stargazing in summer nights when the air is dry. (It is very safe to stay on campus at night. If you have late classes, Safe Ride can bring you home – on campus or off campus).

Academics and Career

– Besides classrooms equipped with visual and audio learning devices, UC Davis has one of the best plant facilities and animal facilities. Students can also spend a quarter or a summer to take marine biology courses at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory.

– UC Davis has a Health Professions Advising Center (HPA) for all pre-health students. I cannot count how many times I went there for creating timeline, for discovering internships, and for writing a personal statement. The advisors are all very welcoming and knowledgeable. Besides HPA, the Internship and Career Center is also a place that I visited a lot to get my resume reviewed. I also signed up for their email listserve to get weekly updates on new job and internship opportunities.

– UC Davis Medical Center has 8+ affiliated student run clinics. Undergraduate students can volunteer in the clinics, shadow doctors, and gain hands on health care experience. This is a very unique opportunity that not many other universities have. Currently, I am involved in Paul Home Asian Clinic, which provides health care mainly to underserved Asian community in Sacramento. By translating and accompanying the patients, I learned more about the health care barriers they faced, and how doctors could help them achieve better heath. Health Related Internships are also offered in the UC Davis Medical Center and Sutter Davis Hospital. The sign up for those internships is very simple, and there are always spots available every quarter.

– UC Davis is a research university. We have an Undergraduate Research Center, and an annual undergraduate research conference every April where students present their research projects. Many students in UC Davis participate in some kind of research, and I’m sure there will be something interesting for you!

Diversity and Involvement

– Joining a student organization definitely made my time in UC Davis much more fun. There are more than 800 student clubs on campus, and you can even found your own club.
– Check out Picnic Day and Whole Earth Festival in spring! I can’t even explain how much I love those events. You will have to experience the energy and enthusiasm yourself. As a student in UC Davis, you have the chance to take a step further and apply to be volunteers or even directors of these campus-wide events. At the Picnic Day of 2017, I volunteered at the chick petting room, and it was the one of the best days I had in UC Davis.

picnic chic.jpg   picnic day
– Discover something fun and unique for you! I joined the Global Ambassador Mentorship Program as a peer mentor in my second year. As a peer mentor, I worked with a group of 5 international students, guiding them in their first few quarters in Davis. In the three quarters I got to meet with so many amazing people from different backgrounds, and we still kept each other in contact until now. Here’s a picture of us at the Thanksgiving Dinner gathering in 2016.

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After all, congratulations on being accepted to UC Davis! Become an Aggie, and you will love it!

Linya Hu
BASC Peer Advisor
4th year, Genetics & Genomics Major

Why UC Davis?

With my love for beaches and obsession with tacos, I’m definitely a socal girl through and through. I like giving freeways their intended articles and cringe at the word “hella.” So, why did I make the 500 mile move up to Davis, two hours away from the closest beach and with only two ‘Taco Tuesday” options in town? I didn’t know how to ride a bicycle, so I can’t say that I drawn in by being in “The Bicycle Capital of the World.” I didn’t know that it was a small town, so I can’t say that I was attracted to its close-knit community. And, I didn’t know that it was so environmentally friendly, so I can’t say that I was impressed by the organic beauty of the nature around me. What I did know was that I had an upperclassman friend already attending, it was definitely far from home, and part of the distinguished UC system. I can’t say that I had the strongest reasons for attending, but when the time came, I submitted my SIR to UC Davis and committed to spending the next four years of my life in norcal.  

I was unable to attend Decision Day, so my first encounter with Davis was  orientation. I remember driving through downtown Davis and stopping to walk onto campus. My first thought was, ‘Wow, there are so many trees.’ Coming from a suburban area with dislocated palm trees evenly spaced between street intersections, I was amazed by the sheer abundance of greenery and how whimsical all of the homes seemed. I fell in love with the tranquility and vastness of the campus. It probably helped that it was around one hundred degrees outside, and the shade provided was the only solace from the blistering heat, but I was awed. The heat never bothered me anyways.

Day one of the program, nothing could have prepared me for the nearly five hundred student filled lecture hall. Honestly, I shied away from the large group interactions and was a little intimidated by the thought of trying to pave my own path from the rest. But, as we we broke off into smaller groups, I was given the sense that students at Davis were very accepting, encouraging, and laid-back.

Two years later, I was back at orientation, not as an attendee but as an orientation leader. I really hadn’t given thought to how much I appreciated coming to Davis, until I saw the new, young faces and couldn’t help but feel so excited for their futures here at Davis. I was  eager for them to find their spaces and realize that they were in a place which would foster their growth, both socially and academically. As a STEM major, it’s an unfortunate, but common, stereotype that students are cutthroat and competitive; however, during my three years here, I have found so much support from both my peers and academic resources. It’s always been clear to me that my professors want me to succeed in their classes, and I might be biased, but I think that I’ve met the nicest people I’ve ever known here at Davis. I have been able to immerse myself in a variety of extracurricular activities, ranging from peer advising students to visiting the elderly to providing medical care for the homeless. There are so many opportunities available to students, free of prerequisites and open to all who are interested, including health related internships, study abroad programs, and numerous clubs and organizations.

Attending UC Davis has been one of the best decisions that I’ve made, and I can say with confidence that I have no regrets. College is a time where it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the transitions of life: to higher education, to adulthood, and to taking more responsibility. Being able to grow into who I am at UC Davis has given me the opportunity to pursue what I’m interested in while continuing to appreciate the little things in life. Surrounded by kindness of my peers and the simplicity of pausing to watch the beautiful sunset or taking a detour to amble through the weekly Farmer’s market, I have been able to take life at my own pace and, in that way, succeed. The beaches of socal will forever be near and dear to me, but Davis has shown me the quaint beauty of norcal.

Christina Duong
BASC Peer Advisor
Fourth Year: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major w/Spanish minor

Why UC Davis?

I am from Napa, just an hour West from Davis, so unlike many out of state and even SoCal students, I knew the town of Davis existed before applying to colleges. Additionally, my dad went to Davis, so the University was familiar to me as a good school with a strong biology program. Since I was sure that biology was what I wanted to study, Davis was an obvious option for me. I think that because of this, I was less than excited about going there. It seemed too predictable, safe, and not too much different from my hometown. According to the published freshman profile, I thought I would be a shoo-in based off my high school GPA and SAT scores. To my surprise, I was waitlisted – something I was not too happy about, but because Davis did not excite me too much to begin with, I shrugged off the unexpected “soft-denial” and focused on my out-of-state private school options. I had researched them thoroughly and applied to about 10 different schools across the country with good biology programs. My favorite was Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. I flew to their admitted freshman decision day event with my mom and had a wonderful experience. The campus was small, but beautiful, and I was impressed by the organization of the event and the city of San Antonio.

Shortly after coming home to Napa, I received my acceptance to UC Davis and now had another option to consider. This time I started to think more practically about Davis. On one hand, I was excited about the idea of living in a totally different state on my own, and I really connected with the atmosphere of San Antonio. However, the convenience of living an hour from home was undeniable, especially because I had a sizeable menagerie of exotic animals still living with my parents that I wanted to continue to care for. I would be able to go home for nearly every holiday, and while tuition was comparable, the cost of travelling to and from Texas a few times a year needed consideration. In the end, my decision to attend Davis was a combination of financial reasons, convenience, and some convincing by my high school friends who were attending Davis. While I was not unhappy with my decision, I was not excited about the university in particular.

My outlook on Davis changed dramatically once I started to get to know the school and the city better. The more time I spent exploring Davis, attending classes, and meeting new friends, the more I learned to love the school and the happier I became that I chose Davis over Trinity or any other school. This trend continued and in my 3 years at Davis I have never regretted choosing UCD. Not only do I appreciate the city of Davis more than I ever thought I could, but with more time I spend here, I also appreciate the time I get to spend with my parents in Napa. Like most graduating high schoolers, I was ready for a change in atmosphere and sought independence from my parents and from my hometown. Now that I have that independence, I value the time I get with my parents – the support, free meals, and of course being able to see my dog and cat way more than I ever would have living in a far-away state. The quality and diversity of courses, magnitude of on-campus research, and a wonderful girl I met in the dorms are all more reasons I am glad I chose Davis over other schools.

In summary, I was apprehensive and never sure of my decision until I got to Davis and started experiencing the Aggie experience, and since then I have never looked back.

Justin Waskowiak
BASC Peer Advisor
4th Year, Genetics and Genomics major

 

Peer Advising 101: Most Common Questions and How I Google Answers

Peer advisers receive a lot questions that could be answered if the many UC Davis websites were more easily navigable. Much of the peer adviser work comes in the form of knowing what to Google and how to navigate through UC Davis websites to find relevant information. Here are some of the most frequent reasons for visiting a peer adviser and what I will Google to help answer them.

Graduation check

In my experience, the most common reason for seeking BASC drop-in advising is for a graduation check. Graduation checks involve checking miscellaneous college and university requirements in addition to major and general education requirements. I usually find the above links with a Google search similar to this:

basc degree requirements

Seniors who are seeking a pre-graduation degree check will be referred to their major adviser due to the importance of such a check. However, peer advisers are happy to help students who have questions about their major requirements or GE progress. In the BASC office, we use a paper copy of the GE requirements as a visual reference for explaining the overlap rules and which requirements are satisfied by major courses. Degree requirement PDFs for each CBS major are available on their respective BASC website pages (Select Major > left sidebar > Major Requirements (B.S/A.B.)).

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Alternatively, you can find degree requirements on the general catalog.

I will also pull up the student’s OASIS and MyDegree.

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MyDegree provides a visualization of one’s progress in GE and major requirements as per their OASIS record. Ignore the “degree progress” bar at the top of MyDegree and focus on what it says about the completion of each requirement. Always compare MyDegree alongside OASIS in case MyDegree omits a class. Mistakes sometimes arise through MyDegree, so use the resource with caution and clarify any possible mistakes with a major adviser.

Schedule planning

The second most common reason for seeing a peer adviser seems to be to plan upcoming schedules. I will still bring up OASIS and MyDegree to keep track of what courses they have taken already. Schedule Builder is an obvious resource for planning schedules and checking course offerings for the following quarter. For planning more than one quarter ahead, I google two additional things:

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On the general catalog, I navigate to “Departments, Programs, & Degrees”. This brings up a full list of departments within the University. If planning the order to take upper division BIS courses, for example, select the Biological Sciences department and then navigate to the BIS courses tab in the upper right. This provides a full list of BIS courses, their descriptions, and prerequisites.

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The tabs next to BIS courses contain degree requirements for B.S. and A.B. in Biological Sciences.

My second google search:

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The course search tool allows us to look back in time at what courses were offered during past quarters. This can help give an idea of when courses are offered in the future. For example, if CHE 8A has been offered every Fall and Spring for the last three years, but never in Winter, we have good reason to believe it will continued to be offered in Fall and Spring but not Winter. Another way to check when courses might be offered in the future is through the OASIS academic plan tool (Forms and Petitions > Submit A New Form > Academic Plan). If you select a course on a quarter it is not typically offered, the academic plan will warn you with a small red warning next to that course.

ACADEMIC PLAN

Is it too late to drop a course?

Another very common type of question I get is “how do I add, drop, P/NP a course? / is it too late to drop, add, P/NP a course?” To answer the second question, I generally google:

ucd calendar google

The UC Davis academic calendar outlines important deadlines each quarter, including last day to add classes, drop classes, opt for P/NP, and add/drop with a PTA/PTD.

The question of how depends on what action they are trying to take. If adding, dropping, swapping sections, or electing P/NP before the relevant deadline, simply use schedule builder. Click Edit next to Letter Grading to change to P/NP, and click Actions to Swap sections or drop.

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Late adding a course is also done through schedule builder after receiving the PTA from the professor. Late dropping requires adviser approval, and the petition is initiated through OASIS.

Conclusion

Web searching may seem menial, but with these simple Google searches and knowing how to navigate the links I provide above, the majority of questions I get from other students seeking drop-in advising can be answered. The amount of information available spread across innumerable UCD websites can be daunting when trying to figure out (for example) “can I graduate?” Concise Google searches and knowing where first to look is how peer advisers answer those sort of questions for students every day.

Justin Waskowiak
BASC Peer Advisor
4th Year, Genetics and Genomics major

Pre-health Standardized Exams

When I say summer, you think… test prep!! Did I get that right? Wait, you were thinking of beaches and ice cream? Well, for some people, summer might be a nice break, but for many College of Biological Sciences students, summer is the perfect opportunity to gain experience in their intended field, take summer classes, or… prepare for dreaded exams. If you are trying to enter a health-related field after undergraduate education, the odds of needing to take a grueling multiple hour exam are high.  These exams will test your stamina, scientific knowledge, and critical thinking skills. But don’t worry, you’ve already started studying! Yup, by taking your major required courses, you’ve already begun the preparing yourself. So, props to you for taking the first step! The next thing to do is understand what exam you’ll be taking and how you can continue preparing for it. Depending on which field you wish to enter, there is a corresponding exam.

If you are interested in: Allopathic medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, or Podiatric medicine, you will take the Medical School Admissions test (MCAT) administered by the AAMC.

  1. The exam is 7.5 hours long (including breaks) and broken into 4 sections: Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior, and Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skill
  2. Some classes to take before the exam include: BIS 2ABC Introduction to Biology, CHE 2ABC General Chemistry, CHE 118ABC Organic Chemistry, PHY 7ABC General Physics, BIS 102 & 103 or 105 Biochemistry, NPB 101 Human Physiology, and PSC 1 General Psychology.
  3. If you find yourself with extra time, consider taking: BIS 104 Cell Biology, MIC 102 Microbiology, BIS 101 Genes & Gene Expression, EXB 106 Human Gross Anatomy, and PSC 41 Research Methods in Psychology.
  4. Other logistical information:
    1. Cost is: $315 (fee waivers available)
    2. Can be retaken: 3 times in a single testing year, 4 times in a two year period, and 7 times in a lifetime.

If you are interested in: Dentistry, you will take the Dental Admissions test (DAT) administered by the ADA.

  1. The exam is 5 hours long (including breaks) and broken into 4 sections: Survey of Natural Sciences, Perceptual Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Quantitative Reasoning.
  2. Some classes to take before the exam include: BIS 2ABC Introduction to Biology, CHE 2ABC General Chemistry, CHE 118ABC Organic Chemistry, STA 100 Statistics, and NPB 101 Human Physiology.
  3. If you find yourself with extra time, consider taking: BIS 101 Genes & Gene Expression BIS 102 & 103 or 105 Biochemistry, BIS 104 Cell Biology, MIC 102 Microbiology, EXB 106 Human Gross Anatomy, and EVE 100 Introduction to Evolution.
  4. Other logistical information:
    1. Cost is: $475 (fee waivers available)
    2. Can be retaken: 3 times but must be 90 days apart; to take more than 3 times, candidates must submit a request.

If you are interested in: Pharmacy, you will take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) administered by Pearson Education.

  1. The exam is 4 hours long (including breaks) and broken into  sections: Writing, Biological Processes, Chemical Processes, Critical Reading, and quantitative reasoning.
  2. Some classes to take before the exam include: BIS 2ABC Introduction to Biology, CHE 2ABC General Chemistry, CHE 118ABC Organic Chemistry, PHY 7ABC General Physics, STA 100 Statistics, NPB 101 Systemic Physiology, BIS 102 & 103 or 105 Biochemistry, Calculus, and Statistics.
  3. If you find yourself with extra time, consider taking: MIC 102 Microbiology or EXB 106 Human Gross Anatomy.
  4. Other logistical information:
    1. Cost is: $210 (fee waivers available)
    2. Can be retaken: 5 times; to take more than 5 times, candidates must submit a request.

If you are interested in: Optometry, you will take the Optometry Admissions test (OAT) administered by the ASCO.

  1. The exam is about 5 hours long (including breaks) and broken into 4 sections: Survey of the Natural Sciences, Reading Comprehension, Physics, and Quantitative Reasoning.
  2. Some classes to take before the exam include: BIS 2ABC Introduction to Biology, CHE 2ABC General Chemistry, CHE 118ABC Organic Chemistry, PHY 7ABC General Physics, and NPB 101 Human Systemic Physiology.
  3. If you find yourself with extra time, consider taking: EXB 106 Human Gross Anatomy, BIS 101 Genes & Gene Expression, or BIS 102 & 103 or 105 Biochemistry.
  4. Other logistical information:
    1. Cost is: $465 (fee waivers available)
    2. Can be retaken: 3 times but must be 90 days apart; to take more than 3 times, candidates must submit a request.

 

If you are interested in: Veterinary Medicine, Physician’s Assistant, Dietetic Internships, Nursing (MSN), Physical Therapy, Genetic Counseling, or Occupational Therapy, you will take the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) administered by the ETS.

  1. The exam is 3.75 hours long (including breaks) and broken into 3 sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning.
  2. Unlike other pre-health standardized exams, the GRE is not content based. Test prep books may be most useful solidifying core concepts. However, other Arts and Humanities or Social Science courses which emphasize critical thinking and reasoning may help.
  3. Other logistical information:
    1. Cost is: $205 (fee waivers available)
    2. Can be retaken: 5 times but must be 21 days apart within any continuous 12-month period.

For more information about any of these exams, how to create a study plan, or what resources are available to you, please contact Health Professions Advising (HPA).

Christina Duong
BASC Peer Advisor
Fourth Year: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major w/Spanish minor

What I Would Have Done Differently: A Third Year’s Exploration of the Top 3 Things I Wish I Knew

When you start out at UC Davis, the experience is new, no matter who you are. Whether you are a first year fresh from high school near or far, a transfer student, or a returning student that took some time off, getting acclimated is a hardship that everybody struggles with. Now, for some, the period of hesitation before fully diving into what college has to offer can be a little on the longer side. That’s OK!! Getting your footing is not something to push too quickly. Take your time, and follow these quick tips for the best transition into the life of an Aggie.

When I came to UC Davis as a freshman, I did not have any real role models for help when it came to applications, choosing classes, choosing a major, choosing roommates, etc. It was all new to me. My mother went to university in Spain where she is from, and my father received his degree so long ago that everything has changed too rapidly to get a grip on it. As the first of my siblings to give college a go, I was spearheading my own entrance in the college life. As a third year and a new Peer Advisor in the College of Biological Sciences, I am still constantly learning new things about what it means to be here, so I felt it best to use this platform to tell you a few things I wish I had known/done from the beginning.’

First: It is NEVER too early to make an academic plan.

Now, you may be thinking, what is an academic plan and how/where do I make one? And let me tell you, you are not alone. So much information is relayed during orientation, that it is almost impossible to catch it all. So, here is what you do.

Open your Oasis file at oasis.ucdavis.edu and sign in with your Kerberos ID and passphrase.

In another tab open up your specific College’s Majors page and find your major’s requirement list. (hint: another way to do this is by using the catalog.ucdavis.edu resource which allows you to select “Degrees and Programs” on the lower left of the home screen. Scroll to your Major by alphabet and boom! There you have it.
Use this as your guide for choosing classes, and always make an appointment with a Major Advisor or come see a Peer Advisor in your College office if you have questions

On Oasis, hit the “Forms and Petitions” tab in the top bar of your Oasis File

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Once here, hit the blue “Submit a New Form” button on the right and scroll to the “Academic Plan” option from the list of options.

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Now, you will have a blank canvas for you to input all of your major required courses, minor courses, GE’s etc, so that you can efficiently plan out your time. No more going into Pass Times blind! Just type in a course code and off you go!
*Don’t forget to save it when you are done so you can go back later!

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Ok now for the Second Tip: It is never too early to consider doing a Minor.

Something that I wish I had known early on, was that minors usually require around 20-25 upper division units for completion. This is super do-able! If you find something outside of your major, say a language or music, or another interest that you discover while at Davis, consider a minor! Take a look back at the catalog or at UC Davis’s Master List of Minors for more information (link: https://www.ucdavis.edu/minors )

If you find something you like, plan out the required classes in your Oasis plan! Often times, minors can fulfill some or most of your required GE credit as well so talk to a major advisor and consider your options!
Finally, we reach Top Tip #3: Go to the Involvement Fairs, Dorm Floor Dinners, and get involved with your Peers!

Often times, acclimating to a new environment is best accomplished through finding people with common interests. Find out what is available. Our campus has hundreds of student-run and community-sponsored organizations to be a part of.

Whether it is associated with your major, cultural identification, hobbies, minor, or something you have never thought about being involved in before, being a part of a club or other social system is always a good route to take.

Get to know your neighbors! When moving into the dorms or a new apartment, when starting a new quarter/class, or when signing up for a new club, meet the people around you. Making connections to other students and faculty is a major force in making UC Davis home.

To wrap this up, if you have kept with me to this point, I want to say that you can do it! Starting at a new university is difficult for so many people and for a variety of different reasons. Share your experiences with friends, family, other students, your neighbors, advisors, you name it!

Here at UC Davis, we are always looking to offer you as much as we can in order to make this the best campus possible for everyone. Let us help light the way for your most successful college experience!

Sandra McAteer
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior major

Founding Your Path: An Interview with Dr. Graham Coop

Welcome back, Aggies! Winter quarter is now in full swing, bringing tons of rain along with it. As we tend to spend a bit more time indoors in winter, it is often a great time for planning ahead and reflecting on the opportunities and paths before us. In our reflecting, it is likely that many of us will experience some frustration and uncertainty in  choosing career and life paths; whether it be about our academics, research, internships, or other long-term plans. While the internet might help in building a pros and cons list (the logical side of decision making), ultimately we have to choose our paths from our heart (what FEELS right). In order to shed some light on the prospect of choosing our own paths, I decided to interview Dr. Graham Coop, a Professor from the Center for Population Biology here at Davis. I chose to interview Dr. Coop in an attempt to capture the journey that led him to a career that he is clearly passionate about (If you have the opportunity to take one of his evolution/genetics classes, you’ll see what I mean).


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Dr. Graham Coop
https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/graham-coop

I asked Dr. Coop to start with his high school years, inquiring about what interests he had back then. To my surprise, Dr. Coop replied, “I didn’t particularly like what we’d call ‘secondary school’ in the UK. I wasn’t particularly good at it… and I wasn’t even totally sure I was going to go to university. I didn’t get particularly good grades and I barely made it into my safety school.” In the end however, he attended the University of Reading and decided to study physics.

 

In reflecting upon his undergraduate years and transition to college, Dr. Coop continued, “I think it was nice for me to be somewhere different … there are points in your life where you get to change the sort of groups of people you’re hanging out with, and you sort of move to a group of people who don’t know you and don’t have expectations of you … that was really important for me.” While the overall undergraduate experience seemed positive, Dr. Coop distinctly remembered struggling during his first year of his undergraduate experience.  At this point, he and I shared experiences regarding the difficulties that come along with the first year adjustment period. Around the end of his first year, he met with a faculty mentor, where he resolved to try working harder in his academics. In describing this first major turning point, Dr. Coop exclaimed,  “I don’t know what happened, but something clicked and I started to do better.” By graduation, he had one of the highest marks in his class.

During his undergraduate years, he had initially wanted to become a Physicist, though in hindsight, Coop admits to not fully realizing what all a career as a Physicist would entail. While doing some soul searching, he had a conversation about career paths with one of his physics professors. Coop expressed having interest in mathematics and computers, but he was not certain in which career path he could apply these skills to. It was in talking to his professor that Coop slightly changed course as he began considering the realm of biology. As a result of his aptitudes, the professor recommended that he look into mathematical biology, as there are so many complex problems within biology that require mathematical analysis in order to solve them.

That discussion with his physics professor had one of the most profound impacts on his career.  As Dr. Coop recalled, “That was just really wonderful advice and something which really changed the direction I was going in when I’d never really thought about it before.”  Having already been intrigued by biological concepts, such as evolution, Coop became excited to continue developing new skills and apply the knowledge he gained in his undergraduate studies. He went on to receive his PhD in Statistical Genetics at the University of Oxford; then he continued as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago in Human Genetics. From there, he was accepted as a professor here at UC Davis.

In reflecting upon his story, it was clear to see how some of the most important moments of growth occurred with the help of university faculty and professors. Coop expressed how important it was for him to talk with people who helped him see where he could apply his skills and interests. When I asked Dr. Coop what advice he had for students after reflecting back on his own experiences, he wanted to encourage students to “think broadly” about what they want to do, be open to different paths that come their way, and to take advantage of diverse or unexpected opportunities. People often get caught up with having a linear academic plan leading to a precise career, not wanting to stray from their intended path or explore other routes. Coop explained that there are numerous ways for people to create fulfilling journeys and exciting career opportunities to apply their diverse skills. Undoubtedly, having  an open mind was an integral component in each step of the way along his life journey.

When I asked for any final words of wisdom he had for Davis undergraduates, he paused for a moment and stated the following:

“Try to be brave about trying new things when you’re at university … It’s a good time to learn to push yourself and figure out where your limits are. You have the room to actually explore what you want to do … It’s a really valuable time to do that. You’ll probably find that your comfort zone is a lot broader than you think it is when you actually start stepping outside of it.”

One of the fundamental messages I took from my interview with Dr. Coop was about how nonlinear and nonconventional our paths truly are. I hope that this interview offers you a unique perspective, helps you to embrace some of the change and uncertainty of your college years, and inspires you to take chances as you establish your own path.

Petra Silverman
BASC Peer Advisor
4th Year – Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity + Spanish major